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Heat Pumps: A Comparative Assessment of Innovation and Diffusion Policies in Sweden and Switzerland

  • Bernadett Kiss
  • Lena Neij
  • Martin Jakob
  • Arnulf Grübler
  • Charlie Wilson
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 118-132
Publication/Series: Energy Technology Innovation - Learning from Historical Successes and Failures
Document type: Book chapter
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Abstract english

The development and introduction of heat pumps provides an interesting illustration of policy influence and effectiveness in relation to energy technology innovation. Heat pumps have been supported by several countries since the 1970s as a strategy to improve energy efficiency, support energy security, reduce environmental degradation, and combat climate change. Sweden and Switzerland have been essential to the development and commercialization of heat pumps in Europe. In both countries, numerous policy incentives have lined the path of technology and market development. Early policy initiatives were poorly coordinated but supported technology development, entrepreneurial experimentation, knowledge development, and the involvement of important actors in networks and organisations. The market collapse in the mid 1980s could have resulted in a total failure ‐ but did not. The research programmes continued in the 1980s, and a new set of stakeholders formed ‐ both publicly and privately funded researchers, authorities, and institutions ‐ and provided an important platform for

further development. In the 1990s and 2000s, Sweden and Switzerland introduced more coordinated and strategic policy incentives for the development of heat pumps. The approaches were flexible and adjusted over time. The policy interventions in both countries supported learning, successful development and diffusion processes, and cost reductions. This assessment of innovation and diffusion policies for heat pump systems can be used to generalise some insights for energy technology innovation policy.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • innovation
  • policy
  • heat pumps


  • ISBN: 978-1-107-02322-2
Lena Neij
E-mail: lena [dot] neij [at] iiiee [dot] lu [dot] se

International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE)

Lund University P.O. Box 196, 22100 Lund, Sweden
Visiting Address: Tegnérsplatsen 4,Lund

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