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 10: Conclusion: Energy Path Dependence and the Promotion of RES-E in Europe

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

Extract

William M. Lafferty and Audun Ruud THE NEED FOR A MORE CONTEXT-SENSITIVE ENERGY POLICY As indicated in the introductory chapter, the project on ‘Promoting sustainable electricity in Europe’ (SUSTEN) was conceived as a focus project for studying how European states work with the challenge of governing/ governance for sustainable development. The essential idea of the project has been to choose a specific initiative at the level of the European Union, an initiative that all Member States and associated states of the Union are committed to implementing. The initiative chosen is the so-called ‘RES-E Directive’: the Directive on ‘the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market’, referred to here as the ‘RES-E Directive’ (OJEC 2001). The most general analytic level of the project is thus the status of the RES-E Directive as a specific initiative for promoting the sustainable development ‘agenda’ in Europe. As further pointed out in the introduction, however, the Directive has also been viewed by the EU itself (most particularly the EU Commission) as an essential part of the ‘Lisbon agenda’ for achieving a more ‘competitive Europe’ through the promotion of innovation, technological competence and employment. Any assessment of the implementation of the RES-E Directive must, therefore, be seen in the light of the alternative values of the two agendas. Further, as we have increasingly understood throughout the study itself, this implies a more critical focus on the monitoring and assessment role of the European Commission. We return to...

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