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Intermediaries in the energy transition: The invisible work of creating markets for sustainable energy solutions (TRIPOD)

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Basic project information


TRIPOD is a consortium project led by Aalto University, with SYKE and the Consumer Society Research Centre (CSRC) of the University of Helsinki as partners.

TRIPOD will empirically analyze innovation intermediaries and specify the concepts and analytical tools relevant for intermediation in the context of the ongoing energy transition, i.e., the shift to low-energy and distributed renewable-based energy systems.


  • Identify and assess the role of intermediaries in creating, channeling and coordinating market and broader societal demand for new low carbon technologies and services and in adapting these technologies to local contexts;

  • Establish the influence of different intermediary organizations and forms of work on different types of energy innovation and energy transition processes;

  • Examine how energy transition intermediaries come into being, establish their functional roles, evolve, and gain legitimacy

  • Compare intermediation in different contexts (between government and citizens, energy and technology providers and users) and in different actor configurations (including or excluding certain market/societal actors) and organizational settings, and

  • Distinguish between generic features of intermediation in energy transitions, and features that are specific to particular contexts or configurations.


The research design builds on comparative case study research to capture the role of intermediaries in different contexts and actor configurations. It examines established and emerging intermediaries, as well as cases of their absence examining different geographical and technological scales. Case studies build on mixed method analysis of qualitative data, including interviews, observation and written documents.

SYKEs role

SYKE will focus on public and systemic intermediaries in energy governance, paying attention to the evolution, forms, role, functions and effects of these intermediaries in energy system disruption.

  • What intermediary functions and roles do public sector and close-to-policy intermediaries carry in energy transition in residential energy transition?

  • How do particularly influential systemic intermediaries bridge actors and interests and advance sustainable energy choices in ongoing in different types of residential areas?

  • How do different actors perceive public and civil society intermediaries and their role in conditioning energy choices?

  • How have systemic energy transition intermediaries evolved and gained legitimacy?


  • Kivimaa, P. & Martiskainen, M. (2018). Innovation, low energy buildings and intermediaries in Europe: systematic case study review. Energy Efficiency 11: 31.

  • Kivimaa, Paula; Boon, Wouter; Antikainen, Riina (2016). Commercialising university inventions for sustainability - a case study of (non-)intermediating 'cleantech' at Aalto University. Science and Public Policy, accepted.

  • Kivimaa, Paula; Boon, Wouter; Hyysalo, Sampsa; Klerkx, Laurens (2016). From systematic review to a dynamic typology of intermediaries in transitions. Paper presented at SPRU Anniversary Conference, 7-9 September 2016, Brighton.

 SYKE team

Published 2015-09-23 at 15:32, updated 2018-07-23 at 12:28

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