Sector coupling of renewable energy in an experimental setting
Findings from a smart energy pilot project in Austria
AbstractThe integration of previously unconnected sectors of the energy system is considered one of the most important strategies for reducing CO2 emissions. Many studies on technological innovations that deal with the transition to a sustainable energy system focus on innovation niches as a favorable environment within which new solutions can be tested and made ready for the market. This paper examines how protection in such a niche, in combination with organizational path dependency, supports the integration of renewable energy in residential buildings. The results presented are based on a case study on the integration of the electricity, heat, and gas sectors in a housing pilot project, in which local energy needs are met and electricity is fed into the grid in a flexible way. Our findings indicate that favorable conditions for inter-sectoral innovation can be achieved through niche protection, complemented by path dependency in organizational routines and culture.
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