Promoting Sustainable Electricity in Europe

Promoting Sustainable Electricity in Europe

Challenging the Path Dependence of Dominant Energy Systems

Edited by William M. Lafferty and Audun Ruud

This is a timely and comparative assessment of initiatives to promote renewable electricity sources (RES-E) in eight European countries. Carried out by the ProSus research programme at the University of Oslo in cooperation with leading research institutions in each country, the book focuses on the promotional schemes used to foster RES-E in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden. The book is unique in that it monitors progress on implementing the EU RES-E Directive in relation to the impact of the ‘dominant energy systems’ in each country. Employing notions of ‘path dependency/path creation’, the analysis demonstrates that crucial lessons for promoting RES-E are to be found in the contextual conditions of national and regional settings; conditions that qualify the effects of more general, market-oriented schemes. The conclusions reached are of direct relevance for the ongoing debate as to the most effective policy instruments for achieving sustainable energy and climate policies in Europe.

Chapter 1: Introduction: Promoting Green Electricity in Europe: The Challenge of Integrating Contextual Factors

William M. Lafferty and Audun Ruud

Subjects: business and management, management and sustainability, environment, climate change, energy policy and regulation, environmental management, environmental politics and policy, management natural resources, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


William M. Lafferty and Audun Ruud Energy is what makes Europe tick. It is essential, then, for the European Union (EU) to address the major energy challenges facing us today, i.e. climate change, our increasing dependence on imports, the strain on energy resources and access for all users to affordable, secure energy. The EU is putting in place an ambitious energy policy – covering the full range of energy sources from fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) to nuclear energy and renewables (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro-electric and tidal) – in a bid to spark a new industrial revolution that will deliver a low-energy economy, whilst making the energy we do consume more secure, competitive and sustainable. (Activities of the European Union: Summaries of legislation, EC 2007) PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT THROUGH GREEN ELECTRICITY The goal of pursuing sustainable development (SD) in Europe has been given top priority by the decision-making bodies of the European Union. At the highest level of political generalization, the task is viewed as a question of balance between the so-called Gothenburg and Lisbon agendas. While the former enunciates values, principles and policies designed to achieve a radically new form of development – a path where both economic and social aspirations are accommodated to environmental concerns – the latter aims to make Europe a more competitive, flexible and knowledge-based economy. The difference between the two paths was highlighted by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, with an analogy to the family. Defending his particular emphasis...