Promoting Sustainable Electricity in Europe
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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.
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Chapter 4: Ireland: Putting the Wind up the Political System

Gerard Mullally and Jillian Murphy


Gerard Mullally and Jillian Murphy* INTRODUCTION Ireland is now recognized as one of the most globalized societies in the Western world. The Irish economy underwent a period of unprecedented economic growth in the 1990s, earning the country the label of the ‘Celtic Tiger’. The central role of foreign direct investment, largely from US multinational companies, in the Irish economy has meant that Irish development has tended to be perceived as a European example of ‘dependent development’. A significant element of this dependence, highlighted in the oil crises of the 1970s, was the extent to which Ireland is dependent on the importation of fuel. This dependence created a political context in which proposals to introduce nuclear power into the Irish energy system were both advanced and subsequently rejected following the mobilization of a widespread antinuclear movement (Baker 1990). The opposition to the proposal to construct a nuclear power facility at Carnsore Point, County Wexford is widely regarded as the nursery of Irish environmentalism, and the context in which demand for ‘soft-path’ energy technologies was fostered. The 2007 government White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland, has recently reasserted the statutory prohibition on the nuclear generation of electricity in Ireland (DCMNR 2007: 25), and identifies a central role for renewable sources for electricity generation (RES-E) to 2020. While much of the EU has adequate or even surplus generation capacity, there will be continuing need for new capacity over the coming decade. Fuel for electricity generation in Ireland now...

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