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Look to Sweden: The making of a new renewable energy support scheme in Norway

Anne Therese Gullberg, Guri Bang

Two renewable energy support schemes have spread across Europe: green certificate schemes (GCSs) and feed-in tariffs (FITs). After a decade-long policy-making process, Norwegian decision makers decided in 2011 to adopt a GCS compatible with the already existing one in Sweden and thereby establish a joint Norwegian-Swedish GCS. The article explores this process of policy transfer, and asks to what extent competition and policy learning contributed to Norway's choice of a GCS. It finds that competition was a barrier to a joint Norwegian-Swedish GCS rather than (as predicted by some scholars) a driver of policy transfer. In terms of policy learning, it finds that Norwegian bureaucrats systematically were searching for information about renewable energy policy instruments in a process characterised by rational learning. However, this information was not taken into account by elected policy makers, whose learning was unsystematic and almost exclusively influenced by Sweden – making it a process of bounded learning. Finally, domestic factors that facilitated and constrained the policy transfer process are identified in the article. A reluctant bureaucracy defending the status quo policies constrained the policy transfer process. GCS as a market-based instrument independent of yearly allocations over the annual national budgets facilitated the process by securing strong support in a broad coalition of stakeholder groups and thereby cross-partisan support. The latter finding may contribute to the literature by underscoring the importance of domestic political factors.

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