Electrification as a multi-system transition: Insights from electrification of construction, transport and industry in Norway.
Lunch box seminar Wednesday 9 November: Hilde Andrea Nykamp, post doc at TIK. Nykamp work with the electrification and transition and has a PHD in green housing projects and the transition within the construction industry
Low-carbon electrification of end-use sectors is widely seen as a central net-zero decarbonization strategy (IEA, 2021). This strategy implies not only transitions in these sectors (organized around new electric end-use technologies), but also major expansion and reconfiguration of low-carbon electricity production and distribution systems to create new interfaces with end-use sectors. We will therefore analyze electrification as a multi-system transition.
To guide our analysis, we will use the Multi-Level Perspective from the socio-technical transitions literature, which focuses on struggles between niche-innovations and existing regimes in the context of broader landscape developments (Geels & Turnheim, 2022). But since most MLP studies focus on single systems, we draw on recent multi-system interaction research within that literature (Andersen & Geels, 2022; McMeekin, Geels, & Hodson, 2019; Rosenbloom, 2020) to conceptualize electrification as involving multiple niche-innovations and multiple systems that need to be aligned.
We expect that these alignment processes are challenging and contested because there are likely to be misalignments and tensions between actors, institutions, and technologies in different socio-technical systems (Rosenbloom, 2019). Since electrification involves new interactions between power supply, distribution, and multiple user-systems, we advance the literature on multi-system interactions by investigating how diverse system properties influence multi-system interaction in electrification.
Using the extended Multi-Level Perspective, we will empirically investigate electrification in Norway, which is a global frontrunner. We make a comparative analysis of maritime transport, construction, and heavy industry systems in the period 2015-2021, which differ substantially in degrees of electrification. We will explain these differences by analysing how the actors, technologies and institutions in each system shaped both the diffusion of electric end-use technologies and the tensions with the electricity distribution systems. The analysis uses data from a mixed-method research design, including document analysis and 50+ interviews across the three cases.
Tomas Moe Skjølsvold, Vice Director NTRANS