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 2: The Netherlands: Muddling Through in the Dutch Delta

Maarten J. Arentsen


Maarten J. Arentsen INTRODUCTION The Dutch thermal-based electricity system is still a patent example of a ‘central-station’ electricity system developed by Thomas Edison and his successors during the 1920s. It consists of relatively homogeneous, large power plants interconnected by a system of high- and low-voltage cables transmitting the (transformed) electricity directly to consumers. In the last 20 years, however, two developments have changed the profile of the system. First, electricity production and consumption have been associated with a steadily growing focus on sustainable development. Second, liberalization, deregulation and privatization have transformed the organization and outlook of the electricity system. Both developments are a function of political objectives. Sustainable development added a new dimension in the form of environmental concerns, and paved the way for the emergence of renewable energy sources. Parallel to this liberalization of the electricity market have followed EU initiatives to harmonize the European energy market. The Dutch electricity market is now fully liberalized and renewables are part of the resource portfolio of electricity production. ‘Cost-effective’, ‘clean’ and ‘reliable’ are all terms applied to the major goals of today’s national electricity policy, with an open price-based electricity market and continued official support for renewables as major instruments. Although the share is still modest, renewable energy sources for electricity (RES-E) are considered a necessary part of the national electricity resource portfolio. The current chapter tells the story of RES-E implementation in the Netherlands. In the following sections we shall: (1) sketch the transition of the dominant...

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