Policies aiming to address societal challenges associated with the energy sector often intend to influence the speed and direction of technological change by addressing market failures. However, empirical research suggests that interactive learning has been a key determinant of the success or failure of innovation systems for several energy technologies. But how and why does the importance of interactive learning vary across energy technologies? And how can policies be designed to reflect these differences?
To answer these questions, we use concepts from the literatures on technology life-cycles and sectoral systems of innovation to analyze how and why the patterns of interactive learning differ between three energy technologies – solar photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries. By doing so, we show how sectoral differences can be better integrated into analyses of technological innovation systems. Further, we help reconcile the differences in empirical literature regarding importance of interactive learning between actors in technological innovation systems, and we discuss the implications for technology policy.