Who finances renewable energy in Europe? Examining temporality, authority and contestation in solar and wind subsidies in Poland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

Marfuga Iskandarova, Agata Dembek, Maria Fraaije, William Matthews, Agata Stasik, Julia M. Wittmayer, Benjamin K. Sovacool*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper, we explore the development of financing and subsidies for renewable energy in three fossil-fuelled European countries: Poland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Financing for renewable energy is an existing arena involving multi-actor activities and practices that develop and implement (innovative) financial instruments to facilitate investments in renewable energy. This means that the paper focuses on different financial mechanisms – such as grants, awards, subsidies, crowdfunding, community bonds, ventures, social investment, as long as these funding instruments finance sustainable energy infrastructure and activities. The extent to which this is changing social relations and comes with new ways of doing, thinking and/or organizing is an empirical topic explicitly examined in the study. We first briefly define and conceptualize financial mechanisms and subsidies before explicating our mixed methods research design consisting of scoping, document analysis, 22 original expert interviews, and observational data from eight meetings and events. We then compare the recent history of solar and wind energy financing and subsidies in our three countries. These comparative cases reveal the temporality of subsidization, indicating fundamental changes in the patterns and logics of financing over the past two decades. They reveal shifts in authority and an expansion of actors involved in financing. They lastly reveal tensions and contestations in financing, including gaps in coverage and conflicts among stakeholder groups. We conclude with future insights for renewable energy diffusion, innovation, and policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100730
JournalEnergy Strategy Reviews
Volume38
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837498 (SONNET - Social Innovation in Energy Transitions). We thank Alicja Dańkowska for her contribution as a research assistant to Poland's case study, and Naomi Schrandt and Sarah Rach for their contributions on the research on the Dutch case study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

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