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Experimenting for Sustainability in India and Thailand: A transitions perspective on sustainable electricity and mobility initiatives (W 01.65.330.00)

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Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects,
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

One of the greatest challenges for global sustainability is the nature of development in rapidly-growing Asian countries. It is recognised, not least in these countries themselves, that a 'greener' model of growth is needed, taking account of rising scarcity and prices of key inputs like energy, as well as limits imposed by regional and global environmental systems, including climate. Finding and pursuing this alternative growth model is not something to wait for when incomes are higher, because the problems of scarcity and environmental limits are being felt now and because of the risk of locking into unsustainable pathways.


New more sustainable technologies will be fundamental to new models of growth. But the key question is: where do these technologies emerge and how do they come to be widely adopted? Much literature on technology and development argues that through a process of 'catch up' technological capabilities and innovation systems are built-up, enabling the absorption and innovation of new technologies. This suggests that the innovation of sustainable technologies will also occur primarily in advanced countries, and subsequently adopted in less developed economies.

This research programme takes a different perspective. We believe that the urgent demand for sustainable solutions, the increasing globalisation of knowledge and technology, and the need to respond to complex social and market conditions, means that innovation of sustainable technologies can and does take place in less-developed contexts. We also observe that there is much innovative activity in projects we call 'sustainability experiments' (defined as highly-novel, practice-oriented projects aiming to develop sustainable technologies) in rapidly developing Asian countries. This research aims to provide the first systematic attempt to inventory and understand the contribution of these sustainability experiments. The project will build upon recent system innovation studies and development studies literature. The empirical focus will be on electricity and mobility experiments in India and Thailand. The main outputs of the programme will be a validated framework for inventorying and studying sustainability experiments in rapidly-developing countries; a comparative analysis of experiments and their potential role in broader development processes in India and Thailand; and policy perspectives to strengthen this role.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Research agency
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)
Funding Source


Scientific articles

  1. R.P.J.M. Raven, J Tiwari, A Mirza, P.K. Sinha, A Kar, I.H. Rehman, D Singh, R J.H.A.(2010): Rural energy transitions in developing countries: a case of ?Uttam Urja? initiative in India Environmental Science and Policy pp. 303 - 311
  2. R.P.J.M. Raven, I. Visser, H Romijn(2010): Biomass experiments in rural India: insights from learning-based approaches and lessons Strategic Niche Management Environmental Science and Policy pp. 326 - 338
  3. R.P.J.M. Raven, G.P.J. Verbong, A Balkema, W Christiaens(2010): Strategic Niche Management in emerging economies: experimenting for sustainability in India Environmental Science and Policy pp. 272 - 281
  4. X Bai, G.P.J. Verbong, A Wieczorek, R.P.J.M. Raven, F Berkhout, Lebel L(2010): Sustainability experiments in Asia: niches influencing alternative development pathways? Environmental Science and Policy pp. 261 - 271
  5. G.P.J. Verbong, M Patankar, A Patwardhan(2011): A promising niche: waste to energy project in the Indian dairy sector Environmental Science and Policy pp. 282 - 290
  6. F Berkhout(2011): Eco-innovation: reflections on an evolving research agenda International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management pp. 191 - 197
  7. Verbong G.P.J., A.F. Kirkels(2011): Biomass gasification: Still promising? A 30-year global overview Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews pp. 471 - 481
  8. Caniëls MCJ, HA Romijn(2011): Pathways of technological change for developing countries: Review and new agenda Development Policy Review pp. 359 - 379
  9. R.P.J.M. Raven, F.G.H. Berkhout, A.J. Wieczorek(2011): Avoiding environmental convergence: a possible role for sustainability experiments in latecomer countries?International Journal of Institutions and Economics pp. 367 - 385
  10. F Berkhout, P Marcotullio, T Hanaoka(2012): Understanding energy transitions Sustainability Science pp. 109 - 111
  11. J Markard, RPJM Raven, Truffer B(2012): Towards a research agenda on sustainability transitions. Introduction paper to special section on sustainability transitions Research Policy pp. 955 - 967
  12. A Gadgil, J Roy, S Addy, A Das, S Miller, A Dutta, A Debsarkar(2012): Addressing Arsenic Poisoning in South Asia Solutions pp. 40 - 45
  13. S Jolly, RPJM Raven, H Romijn(2012): Upscaling of business model experiments in off-grid PV solar energy in IndiaSustainability Science pp. 199 - 212
  14. rpjm Raven, JW Schot, F Berkhout(2012): Space and scale in socio-technical transitions Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions pp. 63 - 78
  15. S Sangawongse, F Sengers, RPJM Raven(2012): The Multi-level Perspective and the Scope for Sustainable Land use Planning in Chiang Mai City Environment and Natural Resources Journal pp. 1 - 11
  16. S Dasgupta, J Roy, B Amit, S Asha, P Pushkar(2012): Growth Accounting for Six Energy Intensive Industries in India Journal of Industrial Statistics pp. 1 - 15
  17. A Smits, RPJM Raven(2012): Towards a theory of niche protection in transitions to sustainability Research Policy pp. 1025 - 1036
  18. J Farla, J Markard, RPJM Raven, L Coenen(2012): Sustainability transitions in the making: A closer look at actors, strategies and resources. Introduction to special issue. Technological Forecasting & Social Change pp. 991 - 998
  19. GPJ Verbong, S Beemsterboer, F Sengers(2013): Smart Grids or Smart Users?: Involving users in developing a low carbon electricity economy Energy Policy pp. 117 - 125
  20. J Roy, D Ghosh, A Ghosh, S Dasgupta(2013): Fiscal instruments: crucial role in financing low carbon transition in energy systems Current Opinion on Environmental Sustainability pp. 261 - 269
  21. F Sengers(2014): Metering motorbike mobility: informal transport in transition? Technology Analysis & Strategic Management pp. 453 - 468
  22. D Ghosh, S Dasgupta, Ghosh Ghosh, A Ghosh(2014): Energy Consumption in the Manufacturing Sector in Odisha: Complexities for Transition due to Size-MixThe Journal of Industrial Statistics pp. 0 - 0
  23. RPJM Raven, F Berkhout, A Wieczorek(2015): Transnational linkages in sustainability experiments: A typology and the case of solar photovoltaic energy in India. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions pp. 149 - 165
  24. RPJM Raven, J Murphy, B Truffer(2015): The geography of transitions. Contours of an emerging theme. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions pp. 63 - 72
  25. F Sengers, RPJM Raven(2015): Toward a spatial perspective on niche development: the case of Bus Rapid Transit. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions pp. 166 - 182
  26. S Sangawongse, V Ruangrit(2015): Towards a GIS-based Urban lnformation System to Plan a Smarter Chiang Mai. Nakhara Journal of Environmental Planning and Design pp. 1 - 8
  27. S Jolly, RPJM Raven(2015): Collective institutional entrepreneurship and contestations in wind energy in India Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews pp. 999 - 1011
  28. RPJM Raven, S Jolly(2016): Field configuring events shaping sustainability transitions? The case of solar PV in India. Technological Forecasting & Social Change pp. 1 - 10

Chapter in book

  1. B Huijben, E van der Vleuten, RPJM Raven, GPJ Verbong(2012): Energy from the Desert Volume 4 pp. 209 - 218 , Paris
  2. A Patwardhan, I Azevedo, T Foran, M Patankar, A Rao, RPJM Raven, C Samaras, A Smith, GPJ Verbong, R Walawalkar(2012): Global Energy Assessment: Toward a Sustainable Future. pp. 1173 - 1201 , New York
  3. M Fischedick, J Roy, A Abdel-Aziz, A Acquaye, JM Allwood, J.P. Ceron, Y Geng, H Kheshgi, A Lanza, D Perczyk, L Price, E Santalla, C Sheinbaum, K Tanaka(2014): Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. pp. 739 - 810 , New York
  4. B Ghosh, A Wieczorek, J Roy, F Sengers, RPJM Raven, D Ghosh(2016): The Experimental City pp. 0 - 0
  5. A Wieczorek, RPJM Raven, A Karvonen, RPJM Raven, F Berkhout, F Sengers, J Evans(2016): The Experimental City pp. 0 - 0

Book or monography

  • GPJ Verbong, D Loorbach(2012): Governing the Energy Transition: reality, illusion, or necessity , New York
  • A Karvonen, J Evans, RPJM Raven(2016): The Experimental City

Publication meant for a broad audience

Professional publication

  1. J. Roy, B. Roy, S. Dasgupta, D. Chakravarty(2011): Business Model to Promote Energy Efficiency: Use of Electrical Appliances in Domestic Sector in West Bengal: A Baseline Study.
  2. J. Roy, D. Ghosh, S. Sarkar, S. Chatterjee(2012): Sustainability Transition in Transportation Sector in Qatar: 2013 - 2030
  3. J. Roy, D. Ghosh, A. Ghosh, G. Ghosh(2012): Fiscal Instruments for Climate Friendly Industrial Development in West Bengal and Odisha
  4. D Ghosh, D Chakravarty, J Roy, RPJM Raven(2014): CNG/LPG Fueled Private Cars in India: Promise of Transition?
  5. D Ghosh, J Roy, RPJM Raven, S Saha(2014): Motorization of Cycle Rickshaws (vans) in India: Analysis of a few experiments
  6. J Wittmayer, K Holscher, N Frantzeskaki, D Loorbach, H Shiroyama, K Ohta, PJ Beers, B Bos, E Cuppen, S Hotta, S Kajiki, M Matsuura, S Mizugushi, A Mori, RPJM Raven, Y Yamaguchi, M Yarame(2014): Studying sustainability transitions in welfare states. A research agenda for Japan and the Netherlands
  7. D Ghosh, J Roy, RPJM Raven(2014): Bio-diesel in the mobility regime of India: The niche under the lens of SNM
  8. RPJM Raven, A Wieczorek(2015): Experimenting for Sustainability.


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Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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