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Applying institutional theory to the analysis of energy transitions: From local agency to multi-scale configurations in Australia and Germany

Jehling, M., Hitzeroth, M. and Brueckner, M. (2019) Applying institutional theory to the analysis of energy transitions: From local agency to multi-scale configurations in Australia and Germany. Energy Research & Social Science, 53 . pp. 110-120.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2019.01.018
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Abstract

While new institutionalism has received considerable attention in recent years to conceptualise socio-technical dynamics in energy transitions, challenges remain in its application to context-specific inter-country comparisons. In this paper, we propose for purpose of such a comparison the application of an institutional framework to the analysis of actors’ agency in renewable energy development occurring within the institutional configuration of two countries’ respective energy systems. For the analysis, institutional configurations are seen as being structured through institutional modes and through multiple regulatory scales from the local to the national. The approach is applied to wind and photovoltaic projects in two local case studies considered to be at the vanguard of climate protection policy in Germany and (Western) Australia. While in the German case, institutional configurations bring about a consistency across institutions at local, state and national scales, enabling the realisation of most RE projects, the Australian case exhibits in-consistencies between the scales, serving to both explicitly and implicitly constrain local actors. The analysis offers insights into how institutions combine to shape local contexts, influence local actor agency and thus affect energy transition. The approach presented here enables the comparison of system-specific configurations and dynamics and sheds light on how actors can gain agency within these. The results indicate that the inclusion of modes and scales in institutional frameworks helps to nuance and refine comparative research on energy transitions.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2019 Elsevier Ltd.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/48202
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