Emerging energy transitions: PV uptake beyond subsidies

Rebecca Ford, Sara Walton, Janet Stephenson, David Rees, Michelle Scott, Geoff King, John Williams, Ben Wooliscroft

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53 Citations (Scopus)
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In the past decade there has been a substantial increase in the uptake of residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems globally, which is starting to impact upon traditional electricity systems. An emerging energy transition is being driven by actions taken by actors at the grassroots level, and enabled by declining technology costs and new niche business models. However, to date, most work exploring change in energy systems has tended to focus on technological innovation and economic processes, leaving social aspects and daily activities under-addressed. Similarly, most theories that consider individual behaviour have tended to neglect the wider system of change. This paper presents an approach for simultaneously exploring behavioural and systemic change and demonstrates its use in a case study of PV uptake in New Zealand. The Energy Cultures framework is used alongside the Multi-Level Perspective of socio-technical transitions to examine the broad range of factors driving, shaping, and constraining PV uptake, and the interactions between global and national landscapes, the socio-technical regime within which users are taking action, and the niche opportunities emerging. Taking an integrating approach allows these perspectives to be brought together, providing valuable insights as to how adoption might be promoted or constrained, and the implications this may have for the future management of electricity grids.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-150
Number of pages13
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date23 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2017


  • socio-technical transition
  • behaviour change
  • grassroots innovation
  • energy culture
  • social practice
  • photovoltaic (PV) uptake


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  • Renewable Energy and the Smart Grid

    Ford, R., Stephenson, J., Miller, A., Wood, A., Nair, N., Watson, N. & Williams, J.


    Project: Projects from Previous Employment

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