More ‘Creative’ Than ‘Destructive’? Synthesizing Schumpeterian and Developmental State Perspectives

Abstract

We develop a new way of analysing the state’s strategic role in the clean energy shift. We do so by synthesizing Schumpeterian understandings of ‘creative destruction’ and techno-economic change with cutting-edge developmental state theorizing centred on ‘developmental environmentalism’. Our approach allows us to explain South Korea’s mixed results in the clean energy shift over the 2008–2020 period by focussing on varying degrees of alignment between the state’s ‘creative’ and ‘destructive’ ambitions and capabilities. Following a period of misalignment characterized by a creative emphasis (2008–2015), we have seen growing alignment between the state’s ‘creative’ and ‘destructive’ endeavours (2015–present). On the basis of our analysis, we anticipate that Korea’s hitherto mixed results are likely to give way to more consistent strides towards greening the national economy. Beyond Korea, our fresh analytical approach may be applied to other national contexts, helping to advance broader debates about the state’s strategic role in the clean energy shift.
 

Keywords:

South Korea, clean energy shift, developmental environmentalism, Schumpeter, creative destruction, hydrogen, fuel-cell electric vehicles

Overcoming Incumbent Resistance to the Clean Energy Shift: How local governments act as change agent

Abstract

Phasing out the use of coal for power generation is an important concern for energy policy in the context of green transition. Despite the efforts of other nations, the role of China in the global phase-out of coal power remains crucial. Our study with a sub-national focus sheds important new light on the drivers and decision-making dynamics of exiting of coal power use in China. Based on a case study of closures of coal power plants in China's Guangdong province, we find that under certain circumstances, governments - especially those in the provincial and city levels - can and do act as change agents when it comes to retirement of coal fired power stations. Our study reveals a number of push and pull mechanisms that governments have utilized to overcome the resistance of incumbent power generation companies, primarily based on developmental considerations. By identifying the drivers and enabling mechanisms of phasing out the use of coal power in a significant sub-national region in China, our study contributes to both of the sustainability transition literature and the energy policy literature.

 

Keywords:

Industry destabilization, Coal exit, Industry upgrading, Coal power plant retirement, Creative destruction, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater bay area, Developmental State