Analyzing the Influence of Environmental and Sectoral Context Conditions on Technology Development and Diffusion: A Comparative Case Study of Residential Heat Pumps in European Countries
Werdt, T. de
MetadataShow full item record
Although widely used for analyzing renewable energy technologies, critics argue that technological innovation systems are lacking in their incorporation of influences that lie outside system boundaries, here referred to as context conditions. Without sufficient recognition of these influences, a technological innovation system analysis is not capable of fully understanding why a certain technology’s performance is at a certain level or why it has certain system dynamics. The present research aims to contribute by assessing the influence of environmental and sectoral context conditions on the performance of residential heat pumps in Europe for the period 2005-2014. Performance was segregated into two dependent variables, with technology diffusion being measured as heat pump installations and technology development as patents. Temperature and relative humidity, population density and urbanization are included as environmental context. Energy labels, installation sector firm size, electricity prices and electricity grid reliability are included as sectoral context. A mixed method approach has been applied in order to supply statistical results with exegeses from interviews and desk-research. Results suggest that the perceived positive effect on diffusion of increased HP efficiency with higher temperatures is overestimated since the quantitative results show a negative correlation between temperature and diffusion, likely due to a lower heating demand at higher temperatures. Relative humidity was found to have little to no effect on both diffusion and development. High levels of urbanization were found to be slightly more problematic for diffusion than high population densities, although developments such as noise reductions have allowed further diffusion in these areas in the last decades, to the point that the focus on developing noise reductions has now faded. The relationship between development and diffusion has been found to be inversely related in several other instances as well. In short, it is likely that further assessment of context conditions is bound to deliver a greater understanding of what drives technological innovation system performance.