Energy Regime Change and Institutionalism: Understanding Developments in Carbon Capture and Storage

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 12:45 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Arho TOIKKA , University of Helsinki, Helsingin yliopisto, Finland
Many analyses of energy technology development disregard the importance of institutions and the interdependence of economic, technological, political and societal concerns and events. I propose a dynamic institutional systems framework to integrate the various concerns into a simultaneous analysis and demonstrate the frame with case analyses on the budding developments of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies in Europe.


The framework integrates cognitive institutionalism, Socio-Ecological Systems (SES) and socio-technical transitions theory. Institutions are the rules of the game in a society shaping human interactions; both formal rules, such as laws and regulations, but also informal institutions through traditions, practices and beliefs. Individual but shared beliefs about energy regimes shape how the systems develop, leading to issues of technology lock-ins, incremental change, institutional inertia and path dependency.

This paper focuses on self-referentiality in the mental models of stakeholders as a factor that shapes these issues. The institutions held by the actors are seen to organize in a nested mental model: the three levels of socio-technical landscape, socio-technical regimes and the innovative niche (Geels 2002) are seen nested holons or SESs.

This paper is based on case studies in Finland. The case studies are focused along two projects: one cancelled retrofit of a coal power plant and one case of technology in development, mineral carbonation. These two projects are deeply embedded in a national and international context, and the aim of this paper is to establish how stakeholder’s institutional self-referentiality affected the developments in the projects and what these project issues tell us about CCS and energy regime change in general.