Title

Renewable energy development in Germany and the United States.

Date of Award

5-1-2016

Document Type

Thesis

School

College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts

Abstract

Germany and the United States have each made efforts to increase renewable energy production. By comparison, Germany has made significantly more progress than the United States. The types of policies implemented in each country, as well as historical, social, institutional and political circumstances best explain the differences between Germany and the United States with respect to renewable energy production. In Germany, legislation was implemented through a top-down, regulatory approach. In particular, Germany's feed-in tariff, which has been amended consistently, ensures that efforts to expand renewables will be sustained in the long term. Supplemental research and development programs and financial incentives have also maintained Germany's growing trajectory. Furthermore, concern over nuclear power, external pressure from the European Parliament and Council of the European Union and an influential red-green coalition contributed to the expansion of renewables in Germany. In the United States, however, legislation was implemented through a multi-level, voluntary approach. Specifically, the implementation of Renewable Portfolio Standards at the state level has contributed the most to increases in renewable energy production. Supplemental research and development programs and financial incentives have also helped. Nevertheless, missed opportunities following the Gulf War, an unfavorable political climate and strong interest group influences have hindered efforts to increase renewable energy production.