Susanne Agterbosch: Empowering wind power. On social and institutional conditions affecting the performance of entrepreneurs in the wind power supply market in the Netherlands. Utrecht 2006 (Nederlandse Geografische Studies 351). 246 S.
Since the 1990s, the European Union intends to liberalise the national electricity supply sectors in its member states. Hence, intensified competition and more efficient allocation of resources should lead to decreased consumer prices. In fact, liberalised markets triggered the emergence of business oligopolies with few dominating power companies. At the same time, most governments planned to increase the contribution of renewable energy to the total energy supply, lowering market entry barriers and encouraging entrepreneurs to invest in renewable energy projects.
Apart from quantitative developments in wind power technology, as well as financial calculations, in her dissertation AGTERBOSCH focuses the core research questions towards rather qualitative, social and institutional conditions which influenced the businesses of entrepreneurs in the Dutch wind power supply market. Moreover, she draws out lessons to be learned for future wind power policy.
AGTERBOSCH uses the qualitative concept of "Implementation Capacity" (IC), concisely defined as the sum of economic, technical, institutional and social conditions influencing the realization of wind energy projects. Even though the term IC is somehow misleading and could easily be replaced by "Investigation Climate", this is a useful approach for medium and long term observations. Following a detailed description of the analytical perspective and research strategy, chapter 3 gives an overview about the history of the Dutch electricity market. Here, the author identifies three market periods for wind power supply between 1989 and 2004 which are mainly divided by changes in institutional conditions. In addition, she sets apart four different groups of entrepreneurs, whose implementation capacities are analysed using detailed case studies in chapters 4 to 7. Considering the current developments in most European countries, the short treatment of offshore projects and the exclusion of repowering markets are the only shortcomings in this comprehensive thesis.
The conclusions of the case studies were discussed in three workshops with wind power stakeholders. Chapter 8 reflects the main findings and points out different approaches of wind power entrepreneurs and local civil servants. In addition national energy policies have to correspond with operational levels of implementation, for example in the policy fields of land use, environment protection and nature conservation.
The final chapter considers the influence of social and institutional conditions on the IC and its interdependencies. AGTERBOSCH recommends five well-prepared lessons for future wind energy policy. These recommendations target the heterogeneity of the market supply as well as the stable congruence between national and local motivations concerning energy projects. Subsequently, she promotes social potential studies as being a helpful endorsement for economic and technical potential studies.
The thesis skilfully summarizes the qualitative aspects of entrepreneurial motivations and actions not only in the Dutch wind power industry, but shows that the findings may be converted to other countries. It is well structured and draws attention towards previously hardly considered subjects.
Autor: Frank Schüssler