The political economy of research and innovation in organic photovoltaics (OPV) in different world regions

Serdar Turkeli & René Kemp


Purpose: In this paper, we examine the status, prospects and organization of OPV research, innovation and governance in three major world regions: Northern America, Western Europe and East Asia through our constructed evolutionary cognitive-institutional framework of reference.

Method: We gathered data from a 65-question internet-based survey conducted from February 2013 to April 2013 with OPV researchers and research managers around the world. A multi-method (investigative/exploratory, descriptive statistics) approach is used for analyses and discussions.

Results: Overall findings show that the organization of OPV research, innovation and governance in Northern America, Western Europe and East Asia reflect similar aspects, patterns with their political economies surveyed in the literature: Northern America's neo-liberal market and finance orientation, Western Europe's orientation to sustainable development and policy-driven research, coordinated-regulatory inspirations and research-driven system, and East Asia's neo-developmental state view with international trade, technology-export orientation. Commercialization prospects in China are lowest and highest in the US but even there expectations of market sales are low. As a disruptive technology which is competing with older generations of PV and other energy technologies, OPV requires a coordinated effort involving international cooperation, the use of public and private money. Positive elements of the three world regions (availability of venture capital in the US, the meritocratic research system and ambitious goals for renewable energy in the EU, and the willingness of the Chinese government to back sunrise industries) could be usefully exploited.

Keywords: Political Economy, Emerging Energy Technology, Research, Innovation, Governance, Organic Photovoltaics

JEL Classification: P16, P51, O38, Q55

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