Drawing renewables globally: policy support instruments for a sustainable energy future
There are different policy support methods or instruments that foster deployment of renewables; although all of them have concrete advantages as well as disadvantages over each other[d], renewable energy support instruments certainly help renewables developing plainly.
Different instruments usually produce different results. In fact, as policy instruments depends on many factors[e], no single instrument is a replica of another. For any policy instrument to successfully support renewables deployment, not only has to be effective, efficient, equitable and institutionally feasible on its own, but also on the basis of its interactions with other policies and regulatory mechanisms.
Renewable energy policy support instruments can roughly be categorized as direct or indirect. Generally speaking, direct policy support to renewables aims to encouraging the immediate deployment of renewable energy technologies (e.g. fiscal incentives and public finance, see Table 1), whereas indirect support focus on improving long-term framework conditions for these technologies to be widespread (e.g. regulations, see Table 2).
By 2013, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) has identified renewable energy policy targets in at least 138 countries. Furthermore, today, there are over 127 countries with renewable power support policies in place (two-thirds of these in developing and emerging economies); roughly 20 countries have specific renewable heating/cooling policies; at least 49 countries have implemented policies supporting renewable fuels in transport; and, thousands of cities and towns around the world have active plans and policies to advance renewable energy .
In a market economy, the success of a given policy depends upon the impact it creates over investors. Renewable energy investments have increased since 2004 to about $250 billion in 2013[f]. As more countries provides policy certainty through the adoption of supporting schemes for renewables, it is foreseeable that higher level of investments will be attracted by these countries. In fact, global renewable energy sector is expected to keep rising in the oncoming future; to a large extent, it will be up to national governments to create the conditions for investments to come sooner or later.