Multiple Regime Interactions, Conversion, and South Africa’s Liquefied Natural Gas
33 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 2019
Increasingly it is recognised that regimes in transitions can promote niches rather than resist them. Using a combination of the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) and institutional theory, this paper contributes to the transitions literature on multiple regime interactions, by providing a more nuanced understanding of why and how regimes interact over time. Using semistructured interviews, the case study explored South Africa's development of its Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for power generation and industrial use together considered as the niche. The two regimes were the coal-based electricity and liquid fuels. This case study revealed the co-evolutionary nature of multiple regime interactions, through repurposing existing institutions in response to increasing landscape pressures and regime tension over time. However, repurposing of existing rules was neither spontaneous nor automatic but required a series of cohesive efforts for linkages between the two regimes. These efforts involved the ongoing interface between a broad base community with interests for the LNG niche, which over time provided a supportive environment in which to complement shared resources. Understanding multiple regime interactions, has potential implications on ‘acceleration’ of niche development, whereby new institutions are not necessarily created, but rather repurpose existing ones to serve new goals or interests. The paper also reflects on temporal policy overlaps aimed at sustainability transitions, whereby a policy instrument initially used for renewables could be co-opted by more powerful actors in a direction that may strengthen a fossil fuel based system. Thus, special attention is needed on the relationship between the flexibility of some policy instruments and the dominant groups, which may leverage them for its own interests.
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