Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 397–440 | Cite as

Global Expansion of Renewable Energy Generation: An Analysis of Policy Instruments

  • Sanya Carley
  • Elizabeth Baldwin
  • Lauren M. MacLean
  • Jennifer N. Brass


This study analyzes the degree to which renewable energy policies, in particular feed-in tariffs and renewable portfolio standards, facilitate renewable energy generation growth across a wide range of countries using an original cross-national dataset of 164 countries between 1990 and 2010. Results provide evidence that both policies are important predictors of renewable energy market growth. The dependent variable is operationalized first as the percentage of total electricity from renewable energy and second as the annual increase in total renewable energy generation in a country. Results are robust to several alternative model specifications including those that exclude hydroelectric generation in the construct of renewable energy. The degree to which feed-in tariffs are endogenous, however, is not conclusive. Besides the prominent role of these policies, results reveal that factors related to annual increases in renewable energy differ from those related to an overall transition toward greater reliance on renewable energy. This suggests that simply increasing renewable generation does not necessarily decrease reliance on fossil fuels or help countries make the shift to a clean energy economy.


Energy policy Renewable energy Feed-in-tariff Renewable portfolio standard Electricity markets 

JEL Classification

O38 O57 Q48 Q40 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sanya Carley
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Baldwin
    • 2
  • Lauren M. MacLean
    • 3
  • Jennifer N. Brass
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Public and Environmental AffairsIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.School of Government and Public PolicyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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