The European Commission (EC) has been active in setting European policy and driving forward penetration of renewable energy (RE) across Member States (MS). Recent challenging economic conditions, increases in electricity price for most European consumers, an entrenched company oligopoly and the lightening of RE subsidies have all shifted the EC to a new realism for energy and climate policy. The 2014 EC Communication on climate and energy 2020–2030 removes MS-level RE targets in favour of a single EU-wide target (27% RE supply) and phasing out of subsidies for mature RE by 2020–2030. The purpose of this research is to determine if the recent policy moves by the EC are concomitant with what RE actors need in terms of EU policy reform. A questionnaire was implemented with expert professional energy actors across all MS of the EU in order to determine priority factors limiting RE penetration, key issues for RE in the EU and the specific policy areas which needed reform by the EC. The questionnaire was implemented just before production of the aforementioned 2014 Communication and included 108 respondents. Respondents replied to questions related to the significance RE implementation issues, impact of the economic crisis on RE implementation, need for further EU/national policy on RE. The main areas to target EC reform were identified, as well as the policy areas the most wanted by RE actors. Conclusions include (i) the lack of engagement of the sample of RE actors with EU-level policy with more of a focus on national and global agendas, (ii) a relatively coherent view in actors of the differential role of EC and MS governments and (iii) a failure in recent EC policy to deal with the most important perceived policy challenges in the RE sector, clarity and stability of subsidies and financial instruments.
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews / Vol. 64, pp.716-726