Research Article

The innovation system for diffusion of small wind in Kenya: Strong, weak or absent? A technological innovation system analysis


Abstract

Kenya is currently seeking to promote rural electrification through a decentralized approach for deploying renewable energy. This article asks whether an innovation system is in place to support the diffusion of small wind which could complement rural electrification using solar photovoltaics. In order to do this, the technological innovation systems framework is drawn upon using a qualitative approach to assess the performance of the small wind turbine sector in Kenya, along the seven innovation system functions. The study is the first to apply this framework to the diffusion of small wind turbine technology. The findings indicate the existence of a nascent and very weak technological innovation system, despite the relatively long history of small wind turbines in Kenya. Weaknesses established in the functions of mobilization of financial resources, guidance of the search for appropriate models and solutions and creation of legitimacy of the technology are all inhibiting the progress of diffusing small wind turbine technology in Kenya. The functions of knowledge development, entrepreneurial activities, networks and market formation were established to be supporting diffusion, although not very strongly. The analysis and conclusions point to the need for enhanced policy attention to target setting, skills enhancement and overall innovation system building.

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