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Martina Fromhold-Eisebith and Ulrich Dewald

The focus of this chapter is on socio-technical niches and adoption of photovoltaics (PV) technology, presenting Germany as a case study. By taking a mainly institutional approach and by paying attention to different market segments, the bias in favour of urban areas in sustainability transition studies is avoided. Using eight dimensions, for example topographical nature, building and settlement features, economic structure, socio-economic entrepreneurship and policy agency, it is concluded that both urban and rural areas may enhance PV technology adoption, albeit in different ways. For example, rural areas can act as large-scale providers of ‘greenfield’ installations due to topographical/settlement characteristics. In the segment of civic corporate solar systems, as cooperatives, small-scale opportunities are provided for shareholder funding and local use of solar energy. A third segment, the small-scale roof-mounted systems, with home-owners and local installers as the main actors involved, is found in rural areas, medium-sized cities and in the fringes of larger cities.

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Ulrich Dewald and Bernhard Truffer

The recent emergence of renewable energy and other cleantech industries has attracted considerable attention in innovation studies. These have emphasized the core role of processes such as entrepreneurial activities, knowledge generation and regulatory support for research and development. Processes of market formation have either been neglected or considered in aggregate terms only. We therefore propose to analyze such market formation dynamics in more detail, drawing on the technological innovation systems framework. The conceptual approach is applied to the rapid expansion of photovoltaic markets in Germany over the past twenty years.