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


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?


  • Heiskanen, E., Apajalahti, E. L., Matschoss, K., & Lovio, R. (2018). Incumbent energy companies navigating the energy transitions: Strategic action or bricolage?. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 28, 57-69.

  • Heiskanen, E., & Matschoss, K. (2017). Understanding the uneven diffusion of building-scale renewable energy systems: A review of household, local and country level factors in diverse European countries. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 75, 580-591.

  • Hyysalo, S., Juntunen, J. K., & Martiskainen, M. (2018). Energy Internet forums as acceleration phase transition intermediaries. Research Policy47(5), 872-885.

  • Hyysalo, S., Johnson, M., Juntunen, J.K. (2016). The diffusion of consumer innovation in sustainable energy technologies.

  • Hyysalo, S., Pollock, N. & Williams, R. (2019 available online) Method Matters in the Social Study of Technology: Investigating the Biographies of Artifacts and Practices. Science & Technology Studies.

  • Jalas, Mikko, Sampsa Hyysalo, Eva Heiskanen, Raimo Lovio, Ari Nissinen, Maija Mattinen, Jenny Rinkinen, Jouni K. Juntunen, Pasi Tainio, and Heli Nissilä. (2017). “Everyday Experimentation in Energy Transition: A Practice-Theoretical View.” Journal of Cleaner Production. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.03.034.

  • Kahma, N., & Matschoss, K. (2017). The rejection of innovations? Rethinking technology diffusion and the non-use of smart energy services in Finland. Energy research & social science, 34, 27-36.

  • Kivimaa, Paula; Boon, Wouter; Hyysalo, Sampsa; Klerkx, Laurens (2018). Towards a typology of intermediaries in sustainability transitions: a systematic review and a research agenda. Research Policy, accepted. 

  • Kivimaa, Paula, Primmer, Eeva, Lukkarinen, Jani (2020) Intermediating policy for transitions towards net-zero energy buildings. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. ISSN 2210-4224

  • Kivimaa, Paula; Hyysalo, Sampsa; Boon, Wouter; Klerkx, Laurens; Martiskainen, Mari; Schot, Johan (2018). How do intermediaries advance sustainability transitions? Conceptual insights on intermediary action in different transition phases. The 9th International Sustainability Transitions Conference, Manchester, 11-14 July 2018.

  • Kivimaa, Paula; Boon, Wouter; Antikainen, Riina (2017). Commercialising university inventions for sustainability – a case study of (non-)intermediating ‘cleantech’ at Aalto University. Science and Public Policy, 44(5): 631-644.

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

  • Kivimaa, P., Boon, W., & Antikainen, R. (2017). Commercialising university inventions for sustainability—a case study of (non-) intermediating ‘cleantech’at Aalto University. Science and Public Policy44(5), 631-644.

  • Lukkarinen, J., Berg, A., Salo, M., Tainio, P., Alhola, K., & Antikainen, R. (2018). An intermediary approach to technological innovation systems (TIS)—The case of the cleantech sector in Finland. Environmental innovation and societal transitions26, 136-146.

  • Martiskainen, M., Kivimaa, P. (2018). Creating innovative zero carbon homes in the United Kingdom – intermediaries and champions in building projects. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 26: 15-31.

  • Matschoss, K., & Heiskanen, E. (2018). Innovation intermediary challenging the energy incumbent: enactment of local socio-technical transition pathways by destabilisation of regime rules. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 1-15.

  • Matschoss, K., & Heiskanen, E. (2017). Making it experimental in several ways: The work of intermediaries in raising the ambition level in local climate initiatives. Journal of Cleaner Production, 169, 85-93.


  • Moilanen, Fanni (2019). Institutions in strategic niche management – The case of low temperature two-way district heating innovation of Skanssi. Master’s thesis. University of Helsinki.

  • Purcell, Kelly (2019). Trigger point adoption: Ownership change as a factor in the adoption of ground source heat pumps in residential buildings. Aalto University

  • Seppälä, Antti (2018). Bridge over troubled water–The role of intermediaries in diffusing solar power in Finland.

  • Smiley, Kira (2018). Forming and Informing Perceptions of Controversial Environmental Topics “How do local landholders in the Finnish Archipelago form and inform their perceptions of wind turbines and their impacts on the white-tailed eagle?”. Program in Earth Systems In Partial Fulfillment of the Honors Requirement, School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences, University of Stanford.



 SYKE team

Published 2015-09-23 at 15:32, updated 2020-02-20 at 9:37

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