Looking back at the future: Dynamics of collective expectations about photovoltaic technology in Germany and Spain

Abstract

The widespread diffusion of new technologies is often preceded by hypes, that is periods of a strong rise and subsequent fall in collective expectations, which are usually followed by disappointment. In this study, we focused on the multilevel nature of collective technological expectations and analysed the dynamics of expectations about photovoltaic technology in Germany and Spain over the period of 1992�2015 by conducting a media analysis. Our results indicate that a hype and subsequent phase of disappointment with regard to photovoltaic technology occurred in both countries. However, the results also suggest that these, and particularly the phase of disappointment, were associated with different levels of expectations: while the Spanish hype was followed by a period of pessimism with regard to the profitability of the technology, the disappointment in Germany was dominated by the fear that the technology would negatively affect the economy as a whole. Furthermore, the results allow researchers to gain a better understanding of the interactions among technological expectations and policies, and suggest that, in both countries, national policies played a key role in supporting the formation of positive as well as negative expectations.

Publication
Technological Forecasting and Social Change, (129), pp. 76–87, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2017.12.003