Levidow et al.: Innovation Priorities for UK Bioenergy: Technological Expectations within Path Dependence

  • Les Levidow
  • Theo Papaioannou
  • Alexander Borda-Rodriguez
Keywords: Technological expectations, path dependence, energy infrastructure

Abstract

UK bioenergy innovation pathways have been locked into current energy infrastructure through technological expectations, especially the reciprocal requirements of state bodies and industry. Over the past decade UK policy has given bioenergy an increasingly important role for decarbonising the energy system; technoscientific innovation has been expected to expand the range of biomass that can be sustainably converted to energy. Needing industry investment to fulfil its policy aims, the UK government has faced requirements to provide long-term support measures. Innovation priorities have been shaped by policy arrangements closely involving industry with state bodies. Their expectations for future benefits have mobilised resources for bioenergy innovation mainly as input-substitutes within current energy infrastructural patterns; novel path creation lies within a path dependence. Although technical progress has encountered difficulties and long delays, expectations for economic and environmental benefits have built support, while conflating national benefits with private-sector interests. Through such expectations, innovation priorities wishfully enact some desired futures from among those which had been advocated in policy documents.