The transition of energy intensive processing industries towards Deep decarbonization: Characteristics and implications for future research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Energy-intensive processing industries (EPIs) produce iron and steel, aluminum, chemicals, cement, glass, and paper and pulp and are responsible for a large share of global greenhouse gas emissions. To meet 2050 emission targets, an accelerated transition towards deep decarbonization is required in these industries. Insights from sociotechnical and innovation systems perspectives are needed to better understand how to steer and facilitate this transition process. The transitions literature has so far, however, not featured EPIs. This paper positions EPIs within the transitions literature by characterizing their sociotechnical and innovation systems in terms of industry structure, innovation strategies, networks, markets and governmental interventions. We subsequently explore how these characteristics may influence the transition to deep decarbonization and identify gaps in the literature from which we formulate an agenda for further transitions research on EPIs and consider policy implications. Furthering this research field would not only enrich discussions on policy for achieving deep decarbonization, but would also develop transitions theory since the distinctive EPI characteristics are likely to yield new patterns in transition dynamics.


External organisations
  • Utrecht University
  • University of Melbourne
  • Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Engineering and Technology


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303 - 1313
Number of pages10
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Issue numberNovember
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Nov 1
Publication categoryResearch