My research combines ideas and approaches from innovation studies and policy studies/political science to investigate the politics and governance of innovation for low carbon energy systems and sustainability transitions more generally. The research can be clustered into three themes:


1. The politics of socio-technical transitions towards sustainability

I am interested in the way political processes influence transitions towards sustainability. Recently I have been working on an ESRC-NWO funded project led by Dr Adrian Smith and Dr Rob Raven on 'The Politics of Low Carbon Innovation: Towards a Theory of Niche Protection' which was studying the development of PV, offshore wind and carbon capture and storage in the Netherlands and the UK. Also my PhD research on 'The politics of governing system innovations towards sustainable sustainable electricity systems' (Oct 2005-Sept 2009) analysed two policy initiatives which try to foster transitions towards sustainable energy systems in the UK and the Netherlands. In an recently completed FP7 project on accelerating sustainability transitions (ARTS) I led the analysis of local, bottum-up transition initiatives in the city of Brighton and Hove. I am also interested in the broader political economy aspects of socio-technical transitions.

Raven, R., Kern, F., Verhees, B., & Smith, A. (2016). Niche construction and empowerment through socio-political work. A meta-analysis of six low-carbon technology cases. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 18, 164-180.
Kern, F., & Markard, J. (2016). Analysing energy transitions: combining insights from transition studies and international political economy. In The Palgrave Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy (pp. 291-318). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Kern, F., Gaede, J., Meadowcroft, J., & Watson, J. (2016). The political economy of carbon capture and storage: An analysis of two demonstration projects. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 102, 250-260.
Kern, F. (2015). Engaging with the politics, agency and structures in the technological innovation systems approach. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 16, 67-69.

Hoggett, R., R. Bolton, C. Candelise, F. Kern et al. (2014). Supply chains and energy security in a low carbon transition. Applied Energy 123(0): 292-295.

Kern, Florian (2012) An international perspective on the energy transition project. In: Governing the energy transition: reality, illusion or necessity? Routledge Studies in Sustainability Transitions . Routledge, UK, pp. 277-295.

Kern, Florian (2012) The discursive politics of governing transitions towards sustainability: an analysis of the Carbon Trust in the UK. International Journal of Sustainable Development, 15 (1/2). pp. 90-106. ISSN 0960-1406



2. Low carbon innovation processes and innovation policy

I am interested in the processes of low carbon innovation, e.g. actor strategies, government policies and how these shape ongoing dynamics. An example of this work is the NERC funded UKERC project led by Dr. Jim Watson on 'Carbon Capture and Storage: realising the potential?'. I have also recently analysed the development of PV, offshore wind and carbon capture and storage technologies in the UK and the Netherlands as part of the ESRC-NWO project described above.

Geels, F. W., Kern, F., et al. (2016). The enactment of socio-technical transition pathways: A reformulated typology and a comparative multi-level analysis of the German and UK low-carbon electricity transitions (1990–2014). Research Policy, 45(4), 896-913.

Kern, F., A. Smith, et al. (2014). "From laggard to leader: Explaining offshore wind developments in the UK." Energy Policy 69(0): 635-646.

Watson, Jim, Kern, Florian and Markusson, Nils (2014) Resolving or managing uncertainties for carbon capture and storage: lessons from historical analogues. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 81. pp. 192–204.

Smith, Adrian, Kern, Florian, Raven, Rob and Verhees, Bram (2013) Spaces for sustainable innovation: solar photovoltaic electricity in the UK. Technological Forecasting & Social Change. ISSN 0040-1625

Verhees, Bram, Raven, Rob, Veraart, Frank, Smith, Adrian and Kern, Florian (2013) The development of solar PV in the Netherlands: a case of survival in unfriendly contexts. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 19. pp. 275-289.

Chalmers, Hannah, Gibbins, Jon, Gross, Rob, Haszeldine, Stuart, Heptonstall, Phil, Kern, Florian, Markusson, Nils, Pearson, Peter, Watson, Jim and Winskel, Mark (2013) Analysing uncertainties for CCS: from historical analogues to future deployment pathways in the UK. Energy Procedia, 37. pp. 7668-7679.

Markusson, Nils, Kern, Florian, Watson, Jim, Arapostathis, Stathis, Chalmers, Hannah, Ghaleigh, Navraj, Heptonstall, Philip, Pearson, Peter, Rossati, David and Russell, Stewart (2012) A socio-technical framework for assessing the viability of carbon capture and storage technology. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 79 (5). pp. 903-918.

Kern, Florian (2012) Using the multi-level perspective on socio-technical transitions to assess innovation policy. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 79 (2). pp. 298-310.


3. Energy (innovation) policy and policy processes

I am also interested in the ways in which energy policy shapes developments in energy systems. For example work with Catherine Mitchell and Caroline Kuzemko has looked at the way the UK energy policy paradigm shapes current developments. I am also interested in the way policy mixes emerge and develop over time (and how they interact with socio-technical systems) and currently lead a cross-cutting project on policy mixes for low-energy innovation as part of the Centre for Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED).

Kern, F., Kivimaa, P., & Martiskainen, M. (2017). Policy packaging or policy patching? The development of complex energy efficiency policy mixes. Energy Research & Social Science, 23, 11-25.
Kivimaa, P., & Kern, F. (2016). Creative destruction or mere niche support? Innovation policy mixes for sustainability transitions. Research Policy, 45(1), 205-217.
Kern, F (2016). Policy mixes in stimulating energy transitions: the case of UK energy efficiency policy, in: R. Heffon and G. Little: Delivering Energy Law and Policy in the EU and the US, Edinburgh University Press.

Kern, Florian, Kuzemko, Caroline and Mitchell, Catherine (2014) Measuring and explaining policy paradigm change: the case of UK energy policy. Policy & Politics, 42(2). pp. 513-530.

Kern, Florian (2011) Ideas, institutions, and interests: explaining policy divergence in fostering 'system innovations' towards sustainability. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 29 (6). pp. 1117-1134.

Kern, Florian and Howlett, Michael (2009) Implementing transition management as policy reforms: a case study of the Dutch energy sector. Policy Sciences, 42 (4). pp. 391-408.

Smith, Adrian and Kern, Florian (2009) The transitions storyline in Dutch environmental policy. Environmental Politics, 18 (1). pp. 78-98. ISSN 0964-4016

Kern, Florian and Smith, Adrian (2008) Restructuring energy systems for sustainability? Energy transition policy in the Netherlands. Energy Policy, 36 (11). pp. 4093-4103.