© 1996 – Routledge
Published in association with The Royal Institute of International Affairs Renewable energy has been hailed by some as the foundation of future energy supplies, while others have voiced profound scepticism. In recent years, this sharp division has weakened: outright rejection has been tempered as the technologies have improved, but the contribution of renewable energy remains small. This report examines the basis for renewable energy policy in Europe: the intellectual and political driving forces; the projections and current initiatives; the energy-economic and socio-political context for renewable energy policies within the EU; and the lessons that can be drawn from history. The report argues that there are indeed valid and diverse reasons for supporting renewable energy. But the issues, policies and options cannot be understood solely in terns of the energy sector. Renewables depend upon developments in other sectors (such as agriculture) and on broader sustainability and structural policies in Europe, at many different political levels. Experience shows that policies can make a big difference but also carry the danger of costly errors: appropriate policies and their impact will vary radically according to different national circumstances.