Energy Sovereignty or Regulatory Competition? North East Asian Renewable Energy Regulation in the Post Global Financial Crisis Era

Oil, Gas and Energy Law, Vol. 5, 2013

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 13/94

36 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2014

See all articles by Penelope Crossley

Penelope Crossley

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: December 15, 2013


Over the past five years, the renewable energy sector has experienced an unprecedented boom in terms of investment and technological development, due to growing recognition of the role it will play in combating climate change, ensuring energy security and sustainably meeting rising energy demands. Over this period, there has been technological convergence around the renewable energy technologies being supported by regulation and the formation of an increasingly globalised market. However, this growth has also come at a time when governments are increasingly concerned about the capacity of the energy market to self-regulate in an effective and reliable manner, especially in the period following the Global Financial Crisis.

This article will argue that a schism has emerged between the regulation of renewable energy in Europe and North East Asia. While European nations such as the United Kingdom have seemingly continued on the slow path towards harmonisation of energy regulation with physical interconnection and shared regulatory institutions and markets, in North East Asia this has not occurred with nations adopting a policy of energy sovereignty. Unlike the outward looking engagement within the sector in the European region, in North East Asia a more protectionist approach has been adopted to support the domestic industry due to energy security concerns. This approach has been exemplified by the recent introduction by the Chinese Government of a solar subsidy to underwrite the globally dominant Chinese solar industry following the collapse of demand in their traditional European markets. A further feature of the North East Asian energy markets is the sense of distrust that pervades the regulatory attitudes of some of the largest economies in the region due to the legacy of historical tensions such as those between China and South Korea, South Korea and Japan, China and Japan, and China and Taiwan. This distrust has further fueled concerns around energy security and energy sovereignty, with significant flow on effects on the regulation of renewable energy.

This article will explore the interrelationship between the state, the market and societal interventions into regulatory design in the renewable energy sector in China, South Korea and Japan. It will also examine through comparative analysis of the objectives and design of the Chinese and Japanese photovoltaic solar feed-in tariffs, whether the regulatory shift towards energy sovereignty should really just be conceived as the re-emergence of regulatory competition in a limited investment market? The article concludes with an assessment of some of the benefits that could be derived from greater regulatory cooperation within the region.

Keywords: Law, renewable energy, energy policy, energy security, sovereignty, energy law, Global Financial Crisis, WTO, protectionism, tariffs, electricity, China, Japan, Korea, international law, comparative law

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Crossley, Penelope, Energy Sovereignty or Regulatory Competition? North East Asian Renewable Energy Regulation in the Post Global Financial Crisis Era (December 15, 2013). Oil, Gas and Energy Law, Vol. 5, 2013; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 13/94. Available at SSRN:

Penelope Crossley (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

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The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

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