Multi level policy mixes and industry emergence: The case of wind energy in Spain

Cristian Matti, Davide Consoli, Elvira Uyarra
Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space

The prospect of limited access to natural resources has reignited the debate on environmental sustainability and the search for appropriate policy instruments. Alternative and sustainable models of production and consumption encompass both wholly new solutions as well as modified versions of existing ones. The objective of this paper is to understand to what extent instruments designed at different levels of policy domains can be coordinated as part of an organic process. The empirical setting for our inquiry is the Spanish wind energy sector, a successful trajectory in terms of both energy and specialised technology production. Spain has become the first country in which wind energy was the major source of energy and the second performing European R&D energy projects. This dual acceleration in market deployment and knowledge creation is the result of multiple pathways originated by the interplay of policy instruments of different domains such as energy, industry and innovation interacting at regional, national and European level. The present paper seeks to understand the development of the policy mix underpinning the emergence of the Spanish wind energy sector. Our approach is mostly historical and draws on official data on energy balance, subsidies, research activity and interviews. The analysis presented here confirms that while international commitments act as a guiding force, national and regional governments play a key role in the sector development by providing market signals, financial support and mechanisms to articulate different actors and their capacities. This gives rise to distinctive implementation patterns across regions and pose important coordination challenges. On the whole the present case study provides a novel insight into the interplay between multi-level public intervention and the articulation of systemic dynamics of a new market as well as a critical reflection on the research policy challenges associated to the emergence of new sectors