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Technological learning in offshore wind energy: Different roles of the government

By T. Smit, M. Junginger and R.E.H.M. Smits


Offshore wind energy is a promising source of renewable electricity, even though its current costs prevent large-scale implementation. Technological learning has improved the technology and its economic performance already, and could result in significant further improvements. This study investigates how technological learning takes place in offshore wind energy and how technological learning is related to different policy regimes. Offshore wind energy developments in Denmark and the United Kingdom have been analysed with a technology-specific innovation systems approach. The results reveal that the dominant forms of learning are learning by doing and learning by using. At the same time, learning by interacting is crucial to achieve the necessary binding elements in the technology-specific innovation system. Generally, most learning processes were performed by self-organizing entities. However, sometimes cultural and technical barriers occurred, excluding component suppliers and knowledge institutes from the innovation system. Danish policies successfully anticipated these barriers and removed them; therefore, the Danish policies can be characterized as pro-active. British policies shaped stable conditions for learning only; therefore, they can be characterized as active. In the future, barriers could hinder learning by interacting between the oil and gas industry, the offshore wind industry and academia. Based on this study, we suggest national and international policy makers to design long-term policies to anticipate these barriers, in order to contribute to technological learning

Year: 2007
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