This article analyses long-term innovation policies and development trajectories of four renewable energy technologies: wind energy, biomass, fuel cells and hydrogen, and photovoltaics. These trajectories and policies are characterised by many costly failures, setbacks, hype-disappointment cycles, tensions, and struggles. Although setbacks and non-linearities are a normal part of innovation journeys, a comparative analysis of four cases shows the recurrence of particular problems. Using Strategic Niche Management as analytical approach, we conclude that major problems exist with regard to learning processes (too much technology-push, focused on R&D), social networks (supply side oriented, narrow, closed) and expectations (hype-disappointment cycles, limited competence to assess promises).
- Innovation journey
- Innovation policy
- Renewable energy technologies
- Strategic Niche Management