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:
to

In order to meet its long-term climate targets, the European Union has decided to reduce its power sector carbon emissions by 93-99% by 2050. This means that Europe aims to transition to a largely - or fully - renewable power system. This is, however, only one of many energy policy goals in Europe. Others include:

  • increased energy efficiency and a reduction in energy demand;
  • liberalisation of the power markets and exposure of renewables to competition;
  • the Europeanisation of renewable energy policy, power grids, and the creation of an internal European power market.

In the TRIPOD project, researchers investigate how all of these policies interact and affect the prospects and costs of a transition to a renewable power system; how the 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 test these hypotheses and explore policy synergies and antagonisms by investigating hitherto under-researched interactions, including:

  • how progress towards the other aims influences the transition dynamics;
  • how key actors may alter their behaviour as a result of such developments;
  • and how achieving the other policy aims would impact on the technical stability and cost of a fully renewable European power system.

The project team adopts an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on, among other things, transition research, 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.