Towards alternative trajectories? Reconfigurations in the Dutch electricity regime

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In the early 2000s Dutch electricity companies are increasingly investing in technologies that enable them to replace coal with biomass. Replacing large amounts of coal (up to 40%) requires the companies to invest in technological trajectories alternative to the ones they have supported over the past decades. This paper aims to understand why these incumbent firms in the Dutch electricity regime are developing alternatives. The second aim of the paper is to provide a way for assessing the potential of innovations. The paper does so by bringing together insights from literature on (socio-) technical regimes and insights from literature on technological and market niches (strategic niche management). The main conclusion is that both niche processes (at the level of experimenting with alternatives) and changes in the incumbent regime are necessary for understanding the innovation journey of a new technology. A two-by-two matrix is developed that can be used for both analysis and governance purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-595
Number of pages15
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomass
  • Socio-technical regime
  • Strategic niche management
  • Technological trajectories

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