Book review: Renewable Energy Policy Convergence in the EU

12th December 2012

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Renewable Energy Policy Convergence in the EU

David Jacobs / Ashgate / Hardback £50 / ISBN 978-1-4094-3909-7

As a politician in the 1970s, I spoke out in favour of renewable energy. Wind, wave and solar power together seemed to offer an alternative to the official enthusiasm for all things nuclear, but it’s taken 40 years for renewables to start to play a significant part in the energy mix.

A 20% by 2020 target has been set at the European level, and member states are force-feeding the development of renewables by throwing subsidies at them. Feed-in tariffs (FITs) have become the instrument of choice and this book explains how they were designed and how they have evolved in Germany, Spain and France.

Despite the absence of a legal obligation for governments to meet EU policy objectives in a particular way, a great deal of cross-border policy coordination has developed. Jacobs shows how the different schemes have converged, stimulated in part by European Commission reporting procedures.

Jacobs says his book will be of interest to academics and renewable energy experts. More superficial politicians wanting a quick, best-practice guide to FITs will prefer the information distilled into a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation.

Now if only Jacobs had identified a way of keeping costs down...

Chris Davies is the Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson in the European parliament

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