Inderscience Publishers

Sustainable development, global innovation and advanced technologies: the case of fuel cells

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This paper examines the innovation requirements of the sustainable development thesis. Focusing on the related concept of ecological modernisation, a critique is presented, which suggests that a more informed analysis of technological innovation must be taken into account in discussions about the future direction of industrial society. Proponents of ecological modernisation suggest that reform of existing institutions and policy processes together with introduction of new, clean technologies can solve the environmental crisis while leaving existing social structures intact. It is argued here that this thesis does not adequately take into account innovation processes involved in the emergence of radical technologies. A case study of fuel cell development is presented to illustrate the complex nature of such technologies, the time necessary to reach the point of commercialisation, and the continued dependence on the creativity and ingenuity of the scientific and engineering community.

Keywords: clean technologies, ecological modernisation, fuel cells, sustainable development

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