Feed Laws

Renewable Energy & Other Topics

December 21, 2020
Paul Gipe

Major New Study Criticizes Auctions: Recommends More Equitable Policies to Spur Rapid Renewable Energy Development

In a sign that Feed-in Tariffs as a policy mechanism for the rapid—and equitable—development of renewable energy are not dead and that their proponents have not given up the hope of a brighter post Covid-19 future, the Energy Watch Group has released a major new report.

The 106-page report, The Case for a Wider Energy Policy Mix in Line with the Objectives of the Paris Agreement: Shortcomings of Renewable Energy Auctions Based on World-wide Empirical Observations, is a take down of the policy dominance of auctions as a means to determine who gets contracts to build renewable energy projects.

Long criticized by proponents of community ownership of renewables as a discriminatory way to award contracts, auctions have led to a growing concentration of the renewables industry, increasing backlash against projects, and the haphazard growth of renewables they were intended to aid.

The authors, a who’s who of prominent European renewable energy policy wonks, recommend the use of feed-in tariffs for small to medium-size projects as well as policies for self consumption.

An executive summary encapsulates the report's main findings.

The report’s release is timely as countries grapple with how to stimulate their economies post the Covid-19 pandemic. Though written primarily for the European market (the more than half-dozen foundations sponsoring the report are all based in Europe), the report may have resonance in the new Biden administration in the USA.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Energy Watch Group and campaigned—unsuccessfully--for feed-in tariffs in Michigan as well as in other states.

President-elect Biden has nominated Jennifer Granholm as his Secretary of Energy. Granholm, the two-term former governor of Michigan has spoken glowingly of Germany’s success with feed-in tariffs and at one time engaged her administration in exploring Michigan’s use of feed-in tariffs. The World Future Council, one of the report’s sponsors, provided technical support to a grass-roots campaign in Michigan to bring feed-in tariffs to the state in the mid 2000s. With the rise of the Tea Party movement in the USA and Republican Party domination of the Michigan legislature, the campaign was quashed.

David Jacobs, one of the report’s authors, is an internationally-recognized authority on feed-in tariffs. He’s also the author of Renewable Energy Policy Convergence in the EU - The Evolution of Feed-in Tariffs in Germany, Spain and France.

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