What lessons have been learned in reforming the Renewables Obligation? An analysis of internal and external failures in UK renewable energy policy

Geoffrey Wood, Stephen Dow

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    43 Citations (Scopus)


    Despite operating a delivery programme for RES-E since 1990, UK targets and policy goals have not been achieved. In response, the Government reformed the RO. This article re-examines UK renewable energy policy by analysing the internal and external failures of the various mechanisms to determine if Government has learnt from previous experience in reforming the RO. Government did not learn from their own actions during the NFFO/RO transition, evidenced by high-levels of similarity in internal/external failures. The reformed-RD is expected to significantly increase deployment, has provided a 'renewables package' by comprehensively addressing both internal/external failures but major internal failures (price/financial risk) still remain, resulting in contiguous failures over two decades and two mechanism changes (NFFO, RO, RO/reformed-RO). Success will again be heavily dependent on a select few technologies and new/untested measures to combat external failures. Mechanism-extension to 2037 is probably the single most important factor underlying potential deployment increases. However, introducing a FIT-like system via the sheer number of 'bolt-on' reforms to counter policy failures indicates loss of direction and clarity. Overall, although Government appears to have learnt some of its lessons from the past two-decades, significant doubt remains whether renewable energy policy objectives will be met via the latest mechanism change. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2228-2244
    Number of pages17
    JournalEnergy Policy
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2011


    • RO reform
    • Internal and external failures
    • UK renewable energy policy

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