Explaining Government Choices for Promoting Renewable Energy

Energy Policy 68: 15–27.

Posted: 5 Dec 2017 Last revised: 12 Dec 2017

Date Written: May 1, 2014


Many advanced industrialized countries have, in recent years, experienced a significant expansion of electricity production from renewables. Yet we know quite little about the dynamics of the underlying policy choices in this area. Using new data on adoptions and changes in feed-in tariff and green certificate schemes in 26 advanced industrialized countries over 20 years, we examine both domestic driving forces as well as international determinants. The findings suggest that three factors play a particularly important role in pushing countries towards market-based support systems: characteristics of the existing energy supply system, a federalist structure of the political system, and EU membership. Particularly noteworthy is the finding that higher shares of fossil and nuclear energy in the national energy supply as well as higher CO2 intensity of the economy do not, as we had expected, stand in the way of policies for supporting renewables in electricity production. To the contrary, they increase the likelihood of a country adopting such policies. We also find, however, that higher economic growth and higher growth in solar and wind energy capacity tend to reduce the political appetite for reforms of existing schemes.

Keywords: Renewable energy policy, Feed-in tariffs, Green certificate system

Suggested Citation

Schaffer, Lena M. and Bernauer, Thomas, Explaining Government Choices for Promoting Renewable Energy (May 1, 2014). Energy Policy 68: 15–27., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3080288

Lena M. Schaffer (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich ( email )

Haldeneggsteig 4
Zürich, 8092

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
Building IFW, office 45.1, Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich 8092, 8092
+41 44 632 6466 (Phone)
+41 44 632 1289 (Fax)

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