Workshop on Incumbent-Challenger Dynamics in Energy Transitions


Incumbent-challenger dynamics in energy transitions: Governmental challenges and policy needs in Germany, Great Britain and Nordic countries

An energy transition process requires complex socio-technical changes. Removal of existing lock-in mechanisms, shifts in behaviour of producers and consumers, and technological, political as well as social innovations are some of the changes that will be necessary. To push the energy transition forward new players must become active and new strategies are required that challenge established patterns of energy policy interaction with experimentation and innovations.

The workshop addressed dynamics between innovative and new entrants that try to change the energy field (‘challenger actors’) and established actors (‘incumbents’) and the role of governments in the recent energy transition efforts in Europe in a comparative perspective. Many governments in Europe are striving for low carbon energy transitions. Investigating incumbent-challenger dynamics can show which policy intervention is required to keep the process of transformation going.

Working on policy recommendations for how to govern transition processes and to learn from various approaches in Europe, the workshop posed questions such as:

  • How are incumbent actors and challengers influenced by governmental policies for energy transitions?
  • What factors support the persistence of incumbent pattern and lock-ins in the field of energy policy-making?
  • What drives actors to change their position, e.g. from incumbent to challenger?
  • What are the strategies of governments to overcome the incumbent paradigms – or, are they part of the incumbent regime?



The workshop was held by the Freie Universität Berlin’s Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU) and the Norwegian institute CICERO as part of the Helmholtz Alliance ENERGY-TRANS project. http://www.fu-berlin.de/ffu, http://www.energy-trans.de/

It was supported by the Helmholtz Association and the Norwegian-German Willy Brandt Foundation.


For further information, please contact:
Prof. Dr. Miranda Schreurs, Dr. Dörte Ohlhorst, Dr. Kerstin Tews, Dr. Sibyl Steuwer, Environmental Policy Research Centre, Telefon 030-838-55098/ -56689, Email:ohlhorst@zedat.fu-berlin.de, ktews@zedat.fu-berlin.de, sibyl.steuwer@fu-berlin.de