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On the crest of a wave: The variety of place configurations around an emerging energy technology in Europe (1992-2019)

Margarida Fontes, Hélder Santos, Teresa Sá Marques


The study investigates the variety in place configurations around a sustainable technology, in its early phase of development. Adopting a systemic and multi-scalar approach to technology development, this article proposes that the spatially distributed nature of technology emergence leads to the formation of different place configurations of actors and networks around the technology, which can contribute in different ways to its development. Using the case of wave energy technology and a methodology that permits to encompass and compare emergent processes unfolding across Europe, the research uncovers five place profiles, which denote different positions in the emerging system and thus need to be jointly considered to fully understand the process of new system development. The article adds to knowledge on the multi-place and multi-scale systemic processes that are at work in the early phases of technology development, contributing to a better understanding of global system construction around a new sustainable technology.

Keywords: Place configurations; sustainable technology early phase; multi-scalar interactions; global system construction; wave energy technology.

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