Multi-level analysis of energy transitions in the EU
Since the surge of renewable energies provides new opportunities for area-based energy solutions, there is growing recognition of the need to focus more attention on the climate policies of regional and local levels of government. At these levels, energy systems are indeed complex networks of technology, markets and regulations that are initiated at the EU and at the national level with different implementation strategies at the local and regional level across Europe. Thus, the research deals with energy system governance, technology options, market structures and the link between energy transition and industrial development. It aims at understanding how local and regional authorities implement strategies related to renewables expansion (mainly wind, solar and biomass) and to energy efficiency in the context of legally binding targets set at the EU level. How local authorities navigate between conflicting priorities (for example between pulp and paper industry on one hand and biomass on the other hand) is also investigated as well as conflicts linked to a lack of social acceptance. One of the underlying assumptions is that sustainable energy concepts will find broader support if they can be justified by proven regional economic benefits. Hence the focus put on local value chains that are established, for example in coastal cities for onshore and offshore wind. From the governance point of view, the research aims at understanding how institutional settings matter and how interconnections between different levels (EU, national, local) work. Hence the reference to different theoretical frameworks (such as multi-level governance or multi-level analysis of socio-technical regimes) to provide an insight on the social, institutional, economic factors that inhibit or accelerate energy transformations at the local and regional level.