Implementing the EU Renewable Energy Directive in Norway: from Tailwind to Headwind

Environmental Politics, published online 17.05.2022, 22 p. DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2022.2075153

Following the 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED), Norway has overachieved its national renewables target and taken the European lead in new wind power. This seems puzzling as Norway had a surplus of renewable energy and the government opposed the EU-induced national target. Employing a dynamic approach to implementation and its consequences, we examine three explanations. From an EU adaptation-pressure perspective, the RED enabled joint implementation, which Norway utilized through its flexible certificate system with Sweden. From a domestic politics perspective, internal pressures led to favourable depreciation rules that stimulated pro-windpower interests. Third, from a policy feedback perspective, protests from municipalities resulted in a reform of the licensing system. These explanations proved complementary, and more persuasive than the main alternative explanation of drastic cost reductions in windpower technology. Our findings speak to the energy democracy, energy policy and implementation literatures.