The paper explores the implications of the liberalization of electricity markets in Europe and North America for policy means and mechanisms to enhance the market penetration of renewables. Applying a (co-) evolutionary approach, the argument highlights the need for policy intervention to help producers and consumers move out of technological trajectories favoring non-renewable electricity. On the production side, energy generation is locked into the central power station system deriving from more than a hundred years of technological development along a specific system trajectory. On the consumption side, the locked-in effect results from a similarly long experience with electricity provision by monopoly suppliers and the associated lack of consumer choice and responsibility for product differentiation. As the analysis shows, policy strategies targeting both the production and consumption sides of the electricity market are needed for effective intervention. Furthermore, policy strategies should draw on a clear analysis of the inertia and dynamism underlying the production and consumption of electricity. In the light of such evolutionary dynamics, the analysis demonstrates the insufficiency of the policy approaches currently employed to foster the market share of renewables based electricity. Instead, the authors suggest a reflexive policy approach to initiate and support a reorientation towards green electricity, emphasizing the need for learning and communication between and among societal actors.
- Renewable energy
- Evolutionary theory