New Dawn for Electricity? EU Policy and the Changing Decision Space for Electricity Production in Sweden

FNI Report 11/2009. Lysaker, FNI, 2009, 32 p.

The European Union has taken an increasing interest in governing the energy sector in its Member States. However, EU still competes with national-level policies as well as sectoral organizational fields with sticky institutions, norms and knowledge. Therefore, despite its high ambitions in the electricity field, for instance in the promotion of renewable sources and market reform, it is not clear whether the EU really exerts a strong influence, and if there is such an influence, the processes of influence and “filtering” through to national political and industrial structures are not well understood. This paper examines a recent strategic change amongst national actors in Sweden in the energy sector; the decision space for investment in electricity. It examines the influence of European policy change, national energy-political change and organizational field-level developments in enhancing this decision space. It finds that European policy has rarely been very coercive, partly because Sweden has been a forerunner both on electricity market reform and renewable energy promotion, but that its influence is notable both on the market mechanism, directly through its emissions trading directive and more indirectly through signalling its intentions and long-term goals. Still, it appears that domestic developments, both in the cognitive and normative perceptions of actors in the organizational field, and in the national political context remain more instrumental determinants of the changed decision space.