New Directions of Legal Reform for Renewable Energy in Europe: From Single-Plant Support to Whole-of-System Approaches

In: Climate Law
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  • 1 RMIT University, Australia

As the proportion of renewable energy in the electricity system increases, a new suite of barriers becomes apparent. These include the unsuitability of traditional network configurations for often remote renewable resources, and the need to develop a diverse range of renewable-energy sources to ensure electricity system stability and security. Substantial legal reform will be necessary to develop an electricity system that can accommodate high volumes of renewable energy. This paper analyses recent legal reforms for renewable energy in the United Kingdom and Germany to illuminate a regulatory shift away from single-plant support to whole-of-system approaches to electricity system development. Regulatory attention has shifted to reform regulatory frameworks for electricity networks to be more accommodating of renewable energy, rather than simply providing financial support for renewable sources. These changes have been supported by a high-level commitment to develop an electricity system that is both efficient and sustainable.

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     See, e.g., Volkmar Lauber, Switching to Renewable Power: A Framework for the 21st Century (London: Earthscan, 2005); David Toke, ‘Trading schemes, risks, and costs: the cases of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme and the Renewables Obligation’, 26(5) ­Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy (2008) 938; A. Held, M. Ragwits and R. Haas, ‘On the Success of Policy Strategies for the Promotion of Electricity from ­Renewable Energy Sources in the eu’, 17(6) Energy and Environment (2006) 849; Marc Ringel, ‘Fostering the Use of Renewable Energies in the European Union: The Race between Feed-in Tariffs and Green Certificates’, 31 Renewable Energy (2006) 1.

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  • 69

    Gunther Kühne, ‘Regulating the Extension of Electricity Networks: A German Perspective’, in Energy Networks and the Law, edited by Martha M. Roggenkamp et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 371, at 391–2.

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  • 75

    Aileen McHarg, ‘The Political Economy of Regulation: Developments in British Energy Regulation under Labour’, in Regulating Energy and Natural Resources, edited by Barry Barton, Alastair R Lucas, Lila K. Barrera-Hernandez, and Anita Rønne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 149, at 150; see also Ronan Bolton and Adam Hawkes, ‘Infrastructure, Investment and the Low Carbon Transition’, in New Challenges in Energy Security: The uk in a Multipolar World, edited by Catherine Mitchell, Jim Watson, and Jessica ­Whiting (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013), 137, at 146, with further sources.

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