This chapter focuses on capacities and capacity development for energy transitions. The transitions put forward in GEA require a transformation of energy systems that demand significant changes in the way energy is supplied and used today, irrespective of whether the technologies involved are new to the world or to a country, its producers or users.
Energy transitions are, by definition, long-term, socially embedded processes in the course of which capacities at the individual, organizational, and systems levels, as well as the policies for capacity development themselves, will inevitably change. From this perspective, capacity development can no longer be seen as a simple aggregation of individual skills and competences or the introduction of a new “technology.” Rather, it is a broad process of change in production and consumption patterns, knowledge, skills, organizational forms, and – most importantly – in the established practices and norms of the actors involved, or what are called informal institutions. In other words, a host of new and enhanced capacities will be needed over time. Informal institutions are reflected in a range of beliefs and boundaries that shape choices about new energy technologies. These can include engineering beliefs about what is feasible or worth attempting and boundaries that shape the processes of choice, such as lines of research to pursue, kinds of products to produce, or practices of consultation and dialogue. They also emerge as “path dependence” in contexts where earlier investments result in high sunk costs, habits and practices are entrenched, and “expert views” are shaped by earlier thinking that narrows the range of choices to established technologies and evaluation techniques.