The Emergence of the Norwegian Solar Photovoltaic Industry in a Regional Perspective
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Norway has built up a remarkable solar photovoltaic (PV) industry over the last 15 years with central industrial players such as the Renewable Energy Corporation Group and Elkem. Norwegian companies are mainly active in manufacturing materials for solar cells, but also other elements of the value chain for solar PVs, such as manufacturing of solar cells, recycling of silicone and of solar cells have become a business target. Analyses of industry and innovation dynamics in renewable energy technology have been dominated by the technological innovation systems (TISs) approach. This paper seeks to complement existing TIS analyses by drawing explicitly on the regional innovation system approach to analyse the spatially differentiated development of solar PV industry in Norway. The historical account of the Norwegian PV industry and network analyses of its knowledge dynamics display a marked spatial pattern of both intra- and inter-regional industrial development. With its origin in Oslo-based Elkem, an industrial branching process took place which partly reinforced the Oslo region as a localized cluster for the PV industry and partly initiated the built-up of industrial activities in other regions. The latter process illustrates how PV industry emergence drew on knowledge spillovers from incumbent process industries through related variety. In contrast, the former drew to a great extent on urbanization advantages because of the regional knowledge infrastructure in and around Oslo. While this spatial unevenness perhaps has facilitated the built-up of industry, it also poses considerable limitations and challenges in the longer term.