Finland in energy transition - The interplay between actors and institutions and the application of climate abatement technologies

Laura Kainiemi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


A significant gap remains between the goals set in the Paris Agreement and the emission reduction measures that have been implemented since. One of the reasons for this policy gap lies in technological trajectories and institutions which have formed to support existing technologies. This dissertation explores the interactions between actors and institutions in order to determine the influences on the deployment of climate abatement technologies and the direction of the energy transition. Institutional environments, which vary from one country to another, are comprised of formal rules and regulations, as well as informal practices, beliefs, and expectations. Countries with centralized energy production tend to have relatively stable institutional environments, which are more resistant to change. This dissertation is focused on Finland, which has a relatively centralized energy sector with well-established institutions. A technological innovation systems (TIS) analysis is performed to determine the level of institutional support for sustainable technologies and to evaluate the level of destabilization policies. Institutions can be altered through collective, often conflicting actions, performed by various actors in the energy sector. Actors can influence their institutional environment through strategic institutional work, or through their framings of energy issues. These influences could be reflected in the direction of the energy transition and the adoption of climate mitigation technologies. Actors' influences are mapped using documentary material and three interview sets, where actors include representatives from industry, research, and academia; policymakers, ENGOs, and citizen activists. Interviewed actors include energy policy actors and CCGS and CO2 mineralization experts. The results demonstrate that the level of destabilization policies in Finland is low, and existing institutions present obstacles for climate change abatement technologies, such as CO2 mineralization and sustainable energy. Dominant framings have defined the observed technologies as having a marginal role in the energy sector, and this has also become cemented into formal institutions, creating obstacles for these technologies. Actors' choices of the activities they engage in are limited by surrounding institutions because actions that do not fit into the institutional environment are more likely to be rejected by others. The collective result of actors' conflicting strategic actions is affected by their positions in the sector, which means that traditional actors, who have strong, institutionally defined positions in the energy system, have more influence over institutional development. The results of this dissertation highlight the complex and interlinked nature of the interactions between actors and institutions and do not support a significant transition. They indicate that, while the energy sector is developing towards carbon neutrality, this development is taking place within existing technological trajectories.
Translated title of the contributionSuomi energiamurroksessa - Toimijoiden ja instituutioiden välinen vuorovaikutus ja ilmastonmuutosta torjuvien teknologioiden käyttöönotto
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Järvinen, Mika, Supervising Professor
  • Eloneva, Sanni, Thesis Advisor
  • Levänen, Jarkko, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0161-4
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0162-1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • energy transition
  • institutions
  • actors
  • climate abatement
  • technology deployment

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