Fostering the delivery of wind power: an evaluation of the performance of policy instruments in three European Union member states.
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Worldwide energy policies are built on three pillars: ‘cost competitiveness’, ‘security of energy supply’, and ‘environmental responsibility.’ This has brought about the integration of renewable energy sources into national systems with the deployment of policy instruments to make renewable energy sources electricity (RES-E) capable of nearly competing on a commercial basis with traditional forms of electricity generation. At the national level within the EU, there has been much experimentation with different policy instruments with varying levels of success. Nevertheless the EU as a whole will not meet its stipulated renewable energy target. This study challenges the theoretical and abstract evaluation presented in the literature about EU wind power delivery systems and has developed an integrative evaluation framework. This evaluation framework is used in this study to present the views of key stakeholders on their experiences with the performance of key policy instruments (feed-in tariff, and renewables obligation) implemented in three EU Member States namely: Germany, The Netherlands, and United Kingdom. It also challenges the EU-wide harmonised renewable energy policy agenda as proposed in Directive 2001/77/EC. The concept of path dependency of the historical institutional approach was adopted in order to explore the diversity of the wind power industry across the three country cases. An indepth semi-structured interview with fifty-five senior wind power policy makers and experts was conducted to explore the historical emergence, the architect, and the outcome of the support and implementation of the policy instruments. Findings showed that the approach to wind power deployment in the three country cases differs significantly and this has affected the pattern of each country’s wind power policy instrument. Also, the role and contribution of the stakeholder groups to the success of the wind power policy instruments differ significantly in each of the country cases. This helps to explain the performance of the different policy instruments adopted. Concerning the harmonisation of EU renewable energy policy instruments which have received much attention in recent times, this study found that harmonisation based on a single policy instrument is not feasible and may ultimately inhibit the growth of the European wind power market. A harmonised system may cause uncertainties amongst willing investors, thereby causing a withdrawal of further investment in the wind power market. If this happens, Europe may also lose its position as the world leader in the wind power market. Furthermore, national histories demonstrates that Member States have different culture, stakeholder groups, political, and business practices that will influence policy instruments and the likelihood of any policy succeeding. Thus, rather than promoting harmonisation and political market for wind power, it is important that Member States adopt and implement, stable, flexible, and transparent policy instruments that enable wind power and other renewable energy sources to emerge, develop, and go through the R&D stage to a point of maturity where they can compete with other energy sources with limited financial support.