RENEWABLE ENERGY POLICY TRANSITIONS: UK & IRELAND 1995-2015
Citation:O'Cinneide, Alex, RENEWABLE ENERGY POLICY TRANSITIONS: UK & IRELAND 1995-2015, Trinity College Dublin.School of Natural Sciences, 2021
RENEWABLE_ENERGY_POLICY_TRANSITIONS_THESIS.pdf (Thesis) 12.56Mb
A radical departure from existing socio-technical pathways is required across the world’s energy systems if we are to achieve sustainability and low-carbon goals. This transformation is being driven by the world’s need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid the most profound consequences of climate change. Motivations also include national security risks associated with the dependence on hydrocarbon-based energy sources and a wish to increase the competitive position of renewable energy generation in the energy system. The search for an ambitious energy system transformation has highlighted the significant implementation gap between sustainability objectives and present unsustainable paths. This transition presents a systemic challenge to our societies, encompassing complex and overlapping socio-technical, economic, and cultural processes, but it is increasingly framed as a policy challenge. Over the last 30 years, the European Union (EU) and its member states have been engaged in that challenge by implementing policies to increase renewable energy use as a power-generation source. Understanding what policies have been most effective in advancing renewable energy is critically important in designing new schemes, yet a comprehensive contextual and comparative analysis of policies has not been completed to date. In response, this thesis analyses renewable energy policies' effectiveness in encouraging renewable energy generation across the EU from 1995 to 2015, with a comparative perspective involving two case study countries of contrasting contexts: Ireland and the UK, focusing on solar and wind power. It utilises the framework of the multi-level perspective to examine the policy outcomes by assessing how those policies have performed and who benefited from them. Qualitative studies that use interviews with policy makers to explore their decision- making process and hoped-for results are surprisingly hard to find and represent a significant gap in energy policy literature. To close this gap, a series of interviews were carried out with many of the key actors in Ireland, the UK, and Europe to shed light on policy formulation and implementation from industry, NGO, finance, and government perspectives. An analysis of the policy documents produced by policy makers was also undertaken. This thesis highlights that policy makers have been too focused on the power of the markets to implement change, that Ireland has been slow to use of key mechanisms such as auctions and that the power of incumbents, such as utilities, needs to be more carefully considered when designing policy and attempting to change pathways.
Author: O'Cinneide, Alex
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Natural Sciences. Discipline of Geography
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available