Prof. Dr. Miranda Schreurs Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Udo E. Simonis
The dissertation deals with political intervention into the renewable energy sector, namely geothermal power generation. Making use of the systems of innovation perspective and utilizing a variant of the event history analysis, patterns of system evolution are identified and the political role in these processes is systematically analysed. The comparison of three countries in case studies reveals recurrent and unique phases of development and political initiation or response strategies. The empirical merit of this work lies first and foremost in the fact that it appears to be the first in-depth analysis of the initiation and development of geothermal power generation. Although being more or less ignored in the social science literature while other renewable energy sources are under heavy investigation, geothermal posits an interesting case in many respects. For instance, it diverts from energy sources like solar or wind in producing base-load heat and power, requiring high upfront costs, facing high technology and resource risks and showing unusually strong vertical dependencies. On a theoretical level the thesis aims to test a recently proposed theory about the evolution of innovation systems. Looking at innovation systems from a functional perspective this theory identifies phases in the system development and put them in sequential order. The dissertation will try to prove its validity and further intends to be theory-generative, enlarging the theory with a notion on political relevance and possible political triggers. This would bring the innovation-system idea a further step towards being a theory rather than a framework. Given both the theoretical and the empirical merit, the dissertation aims to help guiding political decision makers willing to promote renewable energies.