Document Type



Author's Final Manuscript

Publication Title

Review of Policy Research



Publication Date



Our article explores the contribution of local initiatives to the creation of path dependencies for energy transition in Germany and Japan in the face of resistance from entrenched incumbents at the national level. We use a process-tracing methodology based partly on interviews with local participants. In particular, we explore the role of local initiatives in securing "socio-political space" for the expansion of renewable energy (RE) and in embedding themselves in "ecosystems" of public and private institutions. German energy activists were more successful than their Japanese counterparts in expanding this space and creating positive feedback in part because they were able to build horizontal networks that anchored the energy transition firmly in local communities. Although problems with grid technology have led to retrenchment in both cases, Japanese activists' reliance on vertical networks has limited their ability to weather a backlash from national government and utility actors. Our study demonstrates the interaction of political, economic/technological, and legitimation paths to energy transition and highlights the importance of the latter two.