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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

The Nordic welfare model providing energy transition? A political geography approach to the EU RES directive

Westholm, Erik; Beland Lindahl, Karin;

Abstract

The EU Renewable Energy Strategy (RES) Directive requires that each member state obtain 20% of its energy supply from renewable sources by 2020. If fully implemented, this implies major changes in institutions, infrastructure, land use, and natural resource flows. This study applies a political geography perspective to explore the transition to renewable energy use in the heating and cooling segment of the Swedish energy system, 1980–2010. The Nordic welfare model, which developed mainly after the Second World War, required relatively uniform, standardized local and regional authorities functioning as implementation agents for national politics. Since 1980, the welfare orientation has gradually been complemented by competition politics promoting technological change, innovation, and entrepreneurship. This combination of welfare state organization and competition politics provided the dynamics necessary for energy transition, which occurred in a semi-public sphere of actors at various geographical scales. However, our analysis, suggest that this was partly an unintended policy outcome, since it was based on a welfare model with no significant energy aims. Our case study suggests that state organization plays a significant role, and that the EU RES Directive implementation will be uneven across Europe, reflecting various welfare models with different institutional pre-requisites for energy transition.

Published in

Energy Policy

2012, volume: 50, pages: 328-335

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Beland Lindahl, Karin
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

Associated SLU-program

SLU Future Forests

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG7 Affordable and clean energy
SDG9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

UKÄ Subject classification

Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Forest Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2012.07.027

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/43540