• Research and development problems
• Institutional resistance to change
• The need for ‘follow through’
The development of new technologies is never easy. This chapter looks at the difficulties experienced by renewable energy technologies in trying to get funding for research, using the UK wave power programme as an example. It also looks at the way in which wind power has been developed around the world, highlighting the different research and development strategies that were adopted. Finally it looks at the technical problems experienced by the UK geothermal energy programme, highlighting how prone novel projects can be to initial failures.
New technologies face a whole range of technical, economic and institutional hurdles as they try to get started on the long process of development and deployment. These constraints have been particularly apparent in the case of sustainable energy technology and they may well shape the extent to which these new energy technologies can play a role in supporting a move towards a sustainable energy future—or at least they may influence the pace at which this transition occurs.
The focus in this chapter is on the early stage of the research and development process and, as a consequence, the emphasis is on renewables since, in the main, this is where most R&D effort is needed. Energy conservation techniques are relatively well established, the main problem is to get support for deployment. We shall be looking at