This paper addresses the question of how to measure the progress of national policies towards attaining a sustainable energy system characterized by high shares of renewable energy. We propose a set of “soft” indicators that focus on policies and their impact on the energy system.
Our choice of indicators is informed by a conceptual model at the core of which are feedback loops between a policy and the changes it induces in different dimensions of the energy system. Our indicators correspondingly relate to the design of the policy itself on the one hand, and to its effects on the energy system on the other. We first introduce each indicator conceptually and explain its role in the model. In a second step, we use the case of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) to identify stages of development that characterize the progress of the policy over time and thus may represent distinct and typical steps of transformation paths. For each indicator we propose a coding scheme to describe the transition from one stage to the subsequent one.
Our work integrates different perspectives from the theoretical literature. It specifically contributes to developing a framework for climate policy sequencing by investigating the timing and ordering of policy events and by identifying feedback mechanisms that may facilitate a step-wise ratcheting-up of climate policies. We hope that the tools we propose will be useful for analysing different case studies of energy system transformation, and specifically for measuring policy progress in the context of the Paris Agreement.