Abstract for: The Renewable Energy Industry in Massachusetts as a Complex System

An abstract model of a local photovoltaic market was developed from a model-based field study. The system described by informants displays features of distributed and embedded agency: actors have the ability to take meaningful action, but that action and its effects are limited by the complexity of the system and by the actions of other actors. The structures necessary for dynamic growth are present, as expected in an industry that has had the growth of the PV market so far. Under several reasonable conditions, growth can be halted before reaching its potential: if reinforcing feedback processes saturate; if industry capacity grows too slowly; or if goals are too low or if they erode. Coordinated action - multiple small interventions - are more effective than isolated large actions as a policy for market growth.