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How the process of transitions shapes the politics of decarbonization: Tracing policy feedback effects across phases of the energy transition

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Policy feedback has been applied as a theoretical concept in exploring the political dynamics of domestic energy transitions. However, theory-oriented work is needed to apply the concept to studies of technological change processes. This article explores two technology feedback effects – technology maturity and socio-technical fit – that add external pressure for policy adaption. These are theorized as enabling a correction mechanism through learning that can partly counter positive policy feedback effects. Thus, the co-evolution process between renewable energy policy instruments and technologies is conceptualized as involving increasing return processes leading to sticky policies, balanced by correction mechanisms that support a more plastic view on policies. This argument is explored through a longitudinal case study of the co-evolution of policy instruments and solar photovoltaics in California.