Sustainable transitions in energy and water systems

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Burkhard, Caroline
Thomas, Valerie M.
Brown, Marilyn A.
Georgakakos, Aristidis P.
Norton, Bryan G.
Clark, Jennifer
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A Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) of Sustainable Transitions is applied to five case studies of technological and policy innovation in energy and water systems. The MLP framework analysis is supported by the policy and engineering literatures of participatory democracy, policy entrepreneurs, and system analysis. Each case study focuses on the subsystems of actors, policy institutions, and public participation in a sustainable transition. In three of the case studies, I develop system and econometric models to evaluate the value of distributed resources and their opportunities for deployment. When evaluating the actions on niche and intermediary actors and their strategies for sustainable transitions, this research suggests that scale may play a bigger role in the development of niche innovations and policies than simply an exploratory space to analyze the success of actors’ strategies. When evaluating the role of policy institutions, this research suggests that strong user preferences, supportive niche policies, and favorable economic landscapes can be insufficient to facilitate a regime change without qualitative changes to the regulatory models. When evaluating the role of the public, this research suggests that neither the niche nor the regime actors are consistently incorporating public participation. Combined, this dissertation speaks to the need for rigorous analytical work, the expansion of the definition of ‘value’ for these niche technologies, as well as the institutions and regulations which dictate how value is determined.
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