Socio-technical barriers to the use of energy-efficient timber drying technology in New Zealand
Bell, Martha; Carrington, Gerry; Lawson, Rob; Stephenson, Janet
This study of industrial energy behaviours identifies barriers to the use of energy-efficient drying technology in the New Zealand timber industry, and explores these barriers through the “energy cultures” lens. Vented kiln dryers were preferred by larger firms and heat pump kiln dryers were used by smaller firms. Although few firms could specify all their costs, we found no significant differences in the average operating costs, drying costs or commercial success of the larger and smaller firms. We found that socio-technical barriers create “energy cultures” at the level of both the firm and the sector, supporting the dominance of vented kiln dryers. The prevailing technologies, practices and norms at the sector level strongly support vented kilns, the status quo being embedded in the socio-technical context, hindering technological learning, improved energy efficiency and innovation. Influential stakeholders in the industry were thus part of, and locked into, the industry-wide energy culture, and were not in a position to effect change. We conclude that actors external to the prevailing industry energy culture need to leverage change in the industry norms, practices and/or technologies in order to reap the advantages of energy-efficient drying technology, assist its continued evolution and avoid the risks of path-dependency.
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Keywords: Energy efficiency; Socio-technical barrier; Energy culture; New Zealand
Research Type: Journal Article