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

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  • Marfuga Iskandarova, University of Sussex
  • ,
  • Agata Dembek, Kozminski University
  • ,
  • Maria Fraaije, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • ,
  • William Matthews, University of Sussex
  • ,
  • Agata Stasik, Kozminski University
  • ,
  • Julia M. Wittmayer, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • ,
  • Benjamin K. Sovacool

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
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

    Research areas

  • Energy finance, Financial mechanisms, Institutionalization of financial mechanisms, Marketisation, Renewable energy, Subsidies

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