Role of demonstration projects in innovation: transition to sustainable energy and transport

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Role of demonstration projects in innovation: transition to sustainable energy and transport



Transition towards more sustainability has been on the agenda of politicians, researchers, industry and concerned societal actors for a number of years. The oil crisis in the 1970s, environmental concerns related to decreasing biodiversity, depleted natural resources, cities polluted by emissions from road transport, and climate changes caused by greenhouse gas emissions, all these crises have contributed to a sense of urgency in political statements on the need for transition towards a sustainable society. Politicians have developed different types of instruments to achieve a development towards more sustainability. However, the design and proper mix of such instruments is still to be better developed, as is the knowledge on possible effects of these instruments. This applies also on demonstration projects and programmes.<br/>This paper attempts to review two important strands on literature relevant for our understanding of demonstration projects and trials for the transition towards more sustainability: Firstly, the literature on demonstration projects and trials, applying rather different conceptual frameworks, among others technological innovation systems, and secondly, the broad literature on socio-technical systems and strategic niche management. The analysis of the first shows a focus on technological solutions and to a much lesser degree a focus on institutional embeddedness and societal changes induced by such projects. To prevent such one-sided shift of focus we conclude our review with a short but to our mind relevant account of transition theory.<br/>Our literature review is guided by the research questions for the InnoDemo project:<br/>1. What are the main contributions of Scandinavian demonstration and trial projects and programmes to sustainable energy and transport transitions?<br/>2. How should the governance of such projects and programmes be developed to further support their contribution?<br/>Therefore, we look both at possible outcomes of such projects and at the organisation and governance of the programmes supporting such projects. This paper will serve as a conceptual guidance for compiling a comprehensive database over all relevant demonstration projects and programmes in the three Scandinavian countries, a survey of the identified projects and programmes and interviews with involved stakeholders.<br/>

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