The focus of this project was on the past and future role of renewable sources of energy in the strategy of European electricity companies. The project team comprised energy researchers and electricity utilities from six European countries: Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and the U.K.. The surveys were based on specialist journals, interviews and workshops with representatives of the industry, the governments, and experts, as well as on current pieces of news.

One development is that many of the former monopolistic businesses have launched 'green' energy offers on the newly created competitive electricity markets as their first brand-name products. Apparently, green energy has been recognised as an image instrument and niche product. But besides this rather small 'voluntary' market, commercial chances and risks that come with the generation of renewable electricity are tightly interwoven with both the European and national regulatory frameworks. We could observe that the postponing of a harmonising European directive on access of electricity from renewable energy sources has repeatedly slowed the dynamics of this sector. The prevailing conditions in Germany have made renewable energy more a burden for the electric utilities, instead of an attractive market branch. In the Netherlands, Denmark and Great Britain, the instruments for the penetration of renewable energy into the market are being reformed and made more conform to the competitive market, so that, in the future, established energy businesses will also have a strong incentive to invest.

The project team came to the following conclusions for the European Union:

  • There is a necessity of a harmonising directive on the part of the EU.
  • The EU member states should, as with climate policy, be obliged to meet binding goals, so that the EU's 12% (23.5%) goal by 2010 can be reached.
  • The EU-wide standardised certification of green energy is the base element to making cross-border trade possible.

Selected Publications

Monographs, Contributions to Edited Volumes

Discussion and Working Papers

Kühn, Isabel (1999), Renewable Electricity in the Liberalising German Market, Final Report of the German Case Study, Oct. 1999, ZEW, Mannheim.

The REALM Research Group (Ed.), ...., Isabel Kühn and al. (1999), Renewable Electricity and Liberalising Markets. Inception Report, ECN-C--99-007, March 1999, Netherlands Energy Research Foundation (ECN), Petten.

Kühn, Isabel, G. J. Schaeffer, M. Voogt and C. Crookall-Fallon (1999), How to improve the framework and design of national policies for the promotion of renewable electricity. Observations on Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, Final Paper of REALM Working Group III, Oct. 1999, Mannheim Petten Neston. Download


Europäische Kommission, Generaldirektion Forschung , Brüssel , BE

Project duration

01.05.1998 - 31.10.1999

Project members

Isabel Kühn

Cooperation partner

Association of Electricity Producers, London, UK
Draukraft, Klagenfurt, AT
National Technical University of Athens, Institute of Communication and Computer Systems, Athen, GR
Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, Petten, NL
Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, DK
Verbundplan GmbH, Wien, AT
Energy for Sustainable Development, Bath, UK
Preussenelektra AG, Hannover, DE
Enersys GmbH, Donaueschingen, DE