Europe is transitioning towards a renewable energy supply. Identifying trade-offs with other political goals and developing solutions is crucial to the success of this transformation.
Europe is transitioning towards a renewable energy supply. Identifying trade-offs with other political goals and developing solutions is crucial to the success of this transformation. IASS/Norbert Michalke

Headline: The transition to a renewable electricity system and its interactions with other policy aims (TRIPOD)

Duration:
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In order to meet its long-term climate targets the European Union has decided to reduce carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 93-99% by 2050. In other words, Europe is aiming to transition to a largely, or fully, renewable power system. This is, however, only one of many energy policy goals in Europe, which include increased energy efficiency and a reduction in energy demand; the liberalisation of electricity markets and exposure of renewables to competition; the Europeanisation of renewable energy policy and electricity grids, and the creation of an internal European power market.

Investigating how these various energy policy goals interact and affect the transition to a renewable energy system is the aim of the TRIPOD project. The researchers engaged in this project are investigating how these aims and policies to advance them interact; how these interactions affect the prospects and costs of a transition to a renewable electricity system; how other aims limit the options for renewables; and how policy conflicts can be resolved. In current policy discourse these policy aims tend to be treated as either independent or synergistic. They are, however, far from independent: policies for demand reduction, liberalisation, and Europeanisation strongly influence the transition to renewables, and the different aims may be partially antagonistic. The purpose of the project is to explore policy synergies and antagonisms by investigating hitherto under-researched interactions, including:

  • how progress towards other aims influences the transition dynamics;
  • how key actors may alter their behaviour as a result of such developments;
  • how policy instruments interact in practice;
  • and how achieving other policy aims would impact the design and cost of a fully renewable European electricity system.

The project team takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on, among other things, transition studies, engineering, political science, and economics, with each perspective adding a new piece to the puzzle. The results will contribute to both disciplinary and problem-driven renewable energy policy research and help policymakers develop more coherent policies in support of a European transition to renewables.

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 715132.