User innovation, niche construction and regime destabilization in heat pump transitions

Domestic heating systems require a rapid shift to low-carbon options to meet global climate targets. We analyse a heat pump transition in two contrasting case studies: Finland and the United Kingdom, utilizing original data from interviews, document analysis, and archival online data. Finland has an almost completed transition, while the United Kingdom can be considered a stalled one. Building on previous research that has highlighted the importance of context, policy and users in transitions, we explore various user roles within low-carbon transitions, and how they shape processes of niche construction and regime destabilisation. Our findings show that the role of users is one key explanatory element of the different heat pump transitions. We also find that specific characteristics of a transition context can influence the types of users that emerge. We conclude that instead of just providing incentives, policy should also aim to mobilise users.

Written by Mari Martiskainen, Johan Schot and Benjamin Sovacool.

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