Panel Paper: Iimplementing the European Union's Energy Policy Targets: Case Evidence from the Renewable Energy Sector in Bulgaria

Saturday, November 8, 2014 : 2:05 PM
Enchantment Ballroom C (Hyatt)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Tatyana Ruseva, Appalachian State University and Maria Petrova, Harvard University
Climate change is a complex global problem which requires a fundamental transformation in the energy sector of nation states around the world. Since 2007, European Union (EU) member states have been working towards a common energy policy with the goal of mitigating the effects of climate change.  A common target for the year 2020 is that renewable energy accounts for 20% of the EU’s total energy consumption. To meet this goal, each EU member state has agreed to binding, country-specific targets to increase the share of its renewable energy usage. This paper examines the barriers to and opportunities for achieving these targets in a recent EU member state, Bulgaria. 

More specifically, the paper seeks to: 1) investigate the relationship among formal institutions (e.g. EU regulations, national laws), informal institutions (e.g. regular social behavior, norms), and organizational-level motivations for renewable energy usage; and 2) understand the factors shaping the behaviors and activities of government, industry, and civil society organizations in the renewable energy sector. In organizing our inquiry, we apply the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework. Data sources include national and supranational (EU) laws and regulations, official documents, news reports, and in-depth interviews with elites representing government, industry, and nongovernment organizations in Bulgaria’s energy sector. Early findings indicate several challenges in the implementation process related to lack of consistent policies, protectionism of coal-based energy production, political unpredictability, and an inadequate level of collaborations among administrative units and organizations.

While this case study does not allow extrapolation of findings, it calls attention to the importance of institutional design, political factors, and inconsistencies between formal and informal institutions. Bulgaria is selected as a representative case example of Southeastern Europe. It is a recent member state of the EU, which has been a strong driver of policy change in Southeastern Europe, and Bulgaria’s size and resource endowments (biomass, solar, wind) are similar to those of other countries in the region. Given the strong trend for policy diffusion in Southeastern Europe, Bulgaria’s implementation of the EU’s renewable energy targets can provide lessons for other nations in the region and nations with comparable political history. The proposed paper has broad relevance for climate change mitigation strategies, and more specifically for efforts that support energy security, the green economy, and multi-scale policy implementation.