Chapter 12: Hitting the target but missing the point: failing and succeeding in the Bulgarian renewable energy sector
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Despite reaching its EU 2020 renewable energy target by 2012, domestic support for renewable energy sources (RES) in Bulgaria has been steadily declining, while numerous retroactive measures have left RES capacities stranded and many RES projects in limbo. On the other hand, Bulgaria is facing a significant reduction in its electricity capacities by 2030 with the closure of coal power plants and its nuclear power plant. Furthermore, as one of the newest members of the European Union (EU), Bulgaria has had access to a wide range of funding for renewable energy projects. This chapter considers what factors drove the development and subsequent stagnation of the Bulgarian RES sector and why Bulgaria seems to be a reluctant overachiever. The research aims to explain national policy change in two areas: the promotion of renewable electricity, and biofuels in the transport sector. The main research question is to what extent Europeanization mechanisms – the result of EU accession and pre-accession conditionality – explain the growth and stagnation of the renewable energy market. In conclusion it is argued that top-down Europeanization was a highly influential process in determining renewable sector developments. However, instead of acting as a catalyst for the growth of a sustainable RES industry, EU pressure resulted only in a temporary change in investment opportunities, failing to effect long-term change in the beliefs and expectations of key domestic actors in the energy sector. Keywords: biofuels policy, Bulgaria, Europeanization, policy resistance, renewable electricity policy, renewable energy policy

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