The sectoral interdependencies of low-carbon innovations in sustainability transitions
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Sectoral interdependencies of low-carbon technologies arguably become increasingly important as sustainability transitions accelerate. Nevertheless, few conceptual and empirical studies examine how the formation of interdependencies with various sectors, providing key inputs or applications within and across value chains of low-carbon technologies, affect acceleration. We provide novel insights on these topics by developing a multi-sectoral and multi-technological perspective on low-carbon innovation. Empirically, we apply the framework to Norwegian coastal shipping, and study how sectoral interdependencies across the value chains (raw materials, production, distribution and use) of battery-electric, hydrogen and liquefied biogas technologies affect innovation in these technologies in the formation and acceleration phases. We find the implications of interdependencies for acceleration to depend on sector characteristics. Low user sector adaptability (e.g. due to sunk costs), and interdependencies with input sectors with low scalability, constituted negative feedbacks for hydrogen and liquified biogas technologies. Meanwhile, battery-electric vessels' interdependencies with scalable input sectors created positive feedback loops, supporting acceleration. We conclude by noting that to foster acceleration, transition research and policy may need to address the sectoral interdependencies of low-carbon technologies already in the early phase of innovations.