Renewable energy policies

The first half of this class discusses policies covering renewable energy in generic terms. We will discuss market failures (externalities) as a justification for policy intervention and different types of policy instruments (pollution taxes, emission trading, feed-in tariffs, tax credits). We will address questions like: should renewables receive dedicated support? If so, why? And how should such support policies be designed?

The second half of the class will be case studies of policies in specific jurisdictions as well as the politics and political economy of renewable energy in certain political systems, with a certain focus on emerging economies. Case studies cover Brazil, Chile, South Africa, China, California, Germany, and India. Students are invited to suggest further case studies. International institutions and initiatives for renewable energy (IEA, IRENA, G7) will be reviewed as well.

In selected sessions of the class, a few external speakers will share their expertise and practical experience. We will have the chance to discuss with senior experts from international organizations (such as IEA, IRENA), governments (BMWi, DG ENER), policy advisors (Ecofys, Takon), renewable energy industry (Enertrag, Siemens), or think tanks (Agora Energiewende). Needless to say, this is an excellent opportunity for students to extend their professional network.

The fundamentals of electricity technologies, systems, and markets are discussed in another class, "Electricity & energy economics." Students are welcome but not obliged to participate in both classes in parallel.

This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.


  • Lion Hirth , Assistant Professor of Governance of Digitalisation and Energy Policy