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The Influential Mechanisms of Power Actor Groups on Policy Mix Adoption: Lessons Learned from Feed-In Tariffs in the Renewable Energy Transition in Iran and Germany

Mohammadi, Naimeh; Khabbazan, Mohammad M.

Zentrum Technik und Gesellschaft (ZTG)

The Energy transition is fiercely competitive. The incumbents of fossil-based energy are in conflict with the advocate coalitions of transition in energy policy changes. Such changes do not occur as sudden punctuation via an external shock, but rather incrementally and over time, by incorporating power insights such as lobbies, coalitions, and campaigns. This article provides a framework grounded in theoretical power theories and draws additional insights from policy mix studies. It investigates how focusing events and feedback loops shape the coalition of interest groups in policymaking through implementations of power mechanisms. Our framework is tested through two different power stories of energy transition in Iran and Germany. Our findings reveal that the centrally planned economy of Iran leaves society with a negligible or passive role in the energy transition. The passive role of society in the energy transition is mainly caused by subsidizing energy. In addition, the financial and economic crisis resulting from other macro-economic challenges, such as sanctions, may exacerbate the minor involvement of civil society in the slow expansion of renewables in Iran. By contrast, as a robust economy with a corporatist tradition, Germany has made a strong advocacy coalition of energy transition that resulted in political incentives for substantial renewable energy deployment. Regarding the theoretical question of the power dynamics in divergent countries’ energy transitions, the proposed framework based on the interest group coalitions and power mechanism offers an understanding of the social character of energy transitions.