PerspectivesCritical perspectives on disruptive innovation and energy transformation

Research paper by CharlieWilsona, DavidTyfieldb

Indexed on: 20 Nov '17Published on: 01 Nov '17Published in: Energy Research & Social Science


What are ‘disruption’ and ‘disruptive innovation’? And what relevance do they have for energy transformation? Ten critical perspectives offer ten contrasting responses to these questions. The relevance of Christensen’s canonical definition of disruptive innovation is highly contested in its applicability to energy and climate challenges, as is the usefulness of analysing discrete business models or technologies rather than socio-technical systems. Further research on disruptive innovation and energy transformation needs to tackle: (i) the social, systemic and emissions impact of widespread adoption; (ii) how to mitigate the adverse distributional consequences of disruption; (iii) the consumer appeal of ‘good enough’ products for users marginalised or excluded from mainstream markets; (iv) the role of incumbents in system transformation; and (v) the reasons for geographic variation in disruption processes currently underway.