The scientific objective is to bring information from very different disciplines (geography, political science, economics, business management) to bear on one focus: the need to provide for a long-term transition to a non-fossil fuel-based European economy by the appropriate regulation of renewable energy sources.
For this purpose high-ranking experts will address the following issues:
- The geographical distribution of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) across Europe;
- The competitive status of RES in a liberalised European energy market, and ways to bridge the existing price gap and other problems of market access without unduly discouraging the expansion of the RES sector;
- The politics of the Kyoto process and subsequent agreements and practices, and the implications of "flexible mechanisms" and carbon trade for the competitive status of RES in Europe;
- The politics and economics of CO2 taxation - the impact of CO2 taxes on renewables in Scandinavia, the expected impact of the EU proposal on CO2 taxation for RES, and the political career of this proposal;
- The three types of regulatory regimes for RES-electricity in EU member states (feed-in tariffs, tendering systems and green certificates) , the problems of their coexistence, the development of the directive on RES-electricity currently under consideration and reflection on the nature of a future harmonised system;
- And finally, the politics (OPEC, Russia) and economics of oil and gas price variations and their likely impact on the competitive status and expected expansion of RES.
This confrontation of information from different disciplines will help define new questions that are rarely raised in a systematic way when it comes to the regulation of RES. It will thus help to inspire interdisciplinary policy relevant research in close contact with business and regulatory realities. Repeating the summer school in 2003 will help develop curricular innovation at the University of Salzburg (integrate the topic in the sustainability studies curriculum now under development).
Most importantly it will help to fill a scientific gap: the comparative study of regulation of and market creation for renewable energy sources has been largely neglected so far, national systems tend to be studied in isolation in individual member states; there is little comparison of merits and disadvantages. The Univ. of Salzburg will be enabled to set up a research network on this subject and to contribute the element of regulation to other university programs on renewable energy sources (which are usually technically oriented).