Renewable energy law

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Renewable energy law is a particular kind of energy law, and relates primarily to the transactional legal and policy issues that surround the development, implementation, and commercialization of renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal and tidal. Renewable energy, (RE) law also relates to the land use, siting, and finance issues encountered by developers of renewable energy projects.

Renewable energy support laws[edit]

Renewable energy law also encompasses policies that relate to renewable energy and legislative instruments that further encourage its growth.

Feed-in tariffs[edit]

One such form of legislation is feed-in tariffs, which provide economic incentives to the developers of renewable energy projects by setting a fixed price for the sale of energy produced from renewable sources. Feed-in tariff laws also provide financial certainty, are more cost effective and less bureaucratic than other support schemes such as investment or production tax credits, quota based renewable portfolio standards (RPS), and auction mechanisms.[1][2] In addition, the feed-in tariff generates more competition, more jobs, and more rapid deployment for manufacturing; it also does not pick technological winners, for instance between more mature wind power technology versus solar photovoltaics technology.[1]

Renewable Portfolio standards[edit]

This type of law is in force in 37 of the States within the United States, as well as Australia and a minority of European nations. It works by fixing the quantity of renewable electricity that must be produced, and leaving it to the market at what price this extra renewable electricity will be produced. This form of legislation typically employs a tradeable certificates mechanism, where 1 Megawatt Hour of electricity is equivalent to 1 renewable energy certificate.

Auctions and tenders[edit]

This form of renewable energy incentive is established by legislation and regulations and is increasingly popular throughout the world as a policy choice for governments. The details of the auction need to be carefully designed to prevent sub-optimal outcomes.

Sector Regulation[edit]

The Role of the Sector Regulator is specified in the enabling legislation. For example, regulatory oversight of feed-in tariff programs is essential, whether the price is based on a predetermined number (and with some maximum capacity), an auction/bidding process, or avoided cost. In each case, the regulator monitors activities to ensure abuses do not arise. How external (environmental and health) costs are factored into program evaluation is partly dependent on the enabling legislation (or executive order). If the law establishes Renewable Portfolio Standards, the energy regulator will need to oversee the system and evaluate its effectiveness in meeting RE objectives. Generally, some other agency is responsible for certifying the generators and handling the certification system.

The sector regulator has a number of roles and responsibilities for operationalizing and implementing RE. The policy instruments include those oriented towards prices and quantities. The former (such as Feed-in Tariffs) provide the supplier with certainty regarding price, but the volume depends on whether that price is high or relatively low. The latter includes renewable portfolio standards that require distribution companies to purchase specific quantities of electricity generated by renewable technologies.

In addition, the sector regulator is in a position to give advice to the government regarding the full implications of focusing on climate change or energy security. Policymakers, however, may choose to delegate these decisions, or a subset of them, to regulators; on the other hand, they may choose to remain silent on such issues. In the former case, of course, regulators have the power to exercise their discretion. In the latter case, the scope of regulatory discretion depends on what the legal system provides. In either case, the internal practices followed by the regulator need to provide legitimacy for regulatory rulings related to RE. Such practices include transparency and evidence-based decision-making.[3]

Renewable energy lawyers[edit]

Renewable energy lawyers focus their practice on serving the legal needs of renewable energy project developers and companies that develop clean technologies (see clean tech law).

Renewable energy laws by country[edit]


A chart summarizing German energy legislation is available.[4]


de:Energiegesetz (Schweiz)

Renewable energy laws by technology[edit]

Renewable energy laws can either be 'technology neutral' or provide specific assistance to particular selected groupings of renewable energy technology. Other aspects of land use planning law can have particular application to the implications of particular energy technologies, such as wind power.

Hydroelectric energy law[edit]

Conventional hydroelectric dams in most countries are highly regulated, with environmental reviews before construction and operational limits afterwards.[5][6] Operation normally places river conditions before power interest, ie: power generation may not be needed at night while rivers are kept flowing.

Geothermal energy law[edit]

Laws and Regulations Applicable to Geothermal Energy Development. ... A number of federal laws, regulations, and Executive Orders apply to geothermal energy development activities. For the most part, state laws and regulations do not apply to geothermal energy development on tribal lands

Wind energy law[edit]

Solar energy law[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b EC, 2005; Morris, 2007; Butler & Neuhoff, 2008
  2. ^ "Competitive auction mechanisms for the promotion renewable energy technologies: The case of the 50 MW photovoltaics projects in Cyprus". Angeliki Kylili, Paris A. Fokaides. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 42: 226–233. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2014.10.022. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  3. ^ Frequently Asked Questions on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Body of Knowledge on Infrastructure Regulation, [1]
  4. ^ Overview of legislation governing Germany's energy supply system: key strategies, acts, directives, and regulations / ordinances (PDF). Berlin, Germany: Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). May 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
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