The promotion of hydroelectricity – Going beyond a multiple streams approach

Kammermann, Lorenz; Ingold, Karin (2 September 2016). The promotion of hydroelectricity – Going beyond a multiple streams approach (Unpublished). In: 2016 Amercian Political Sciene Association (APSA) Annual Meeting & Exhibition. Philadelphia, PA, USA. 01.-04. Sept. 2016.

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In the wake of the COP21 conference in Paris global warming and a transition to an alternative energy supply remain as some of the most central issues on the political agenda. In order to achieve the newly formulated goals nation states need to adopt ambitious policies. One of the often crucial conflicts therein lies between the aim of environmental protection and the objective to promote renewable energy. To better understand this conflict one needs to know the factors central for the introduction of measures in those two domains. In this paper we focus on the energy side and ask what drives nation states to promote alternative energies? In a federalist context we further pose the question, what might explain regional differences in the promotion of renewables within one single country?
To answer those questions, we focus on the Swiss case. Switzerland is interesting for several reasons: first, Switzerland knows a strong climate mitigation policy since the beginning of the 20th century. This might create an overall favorable context for the promotion of carbon-free energy supply. Second, and after the Fukushima accident in 2011, the Swiss government decided the nuclear phasing out. This decision should give renewable energy supply a particular boost - something that still has to be proven. Finally, Switzerland is a federalist country with 26 sub-national constituencies (so-called cantons). Energy policy is mainly in the cantons’ competences.
As of today the 26 Swiss cantons have put very different effort in the realization of this proclaimed energy turnaround in general, and in the promotion of alternative energy supply in particular. This makes Switzerland and the 26 cantons an ideal case study to investigate what different factors and combinations of factors might explain differences in the promotion of renewables. Based on the multiple streams approach we derive driving factors from the problem, process and solution stream: the problem stream contains elements that push an issue on the political agenda – such as the salience of the issue in the media and whether an issue is considered important by the public. Different actors, such as the state governments, legislative bodies and interest groups, are covered by the process stream. Finally, we include the technical feasibility of energy promotion with current environmental policies and path dependencies due to the current energy mix in the solution stream. Additionally, major institutional factors such as different policy stiles as well as the unexploited potential for alternative energies and the heterogeneous geographic conditions in the various states may be relevant and are therefore considered in our analysis.
Adopting a most similar case study design and applying fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA), conditions in the 26 sub-national constituencies concerning the promotion of alternative energy supply are investigated. We adopt thus a set-theoretic perspective and analyze whether given sets of cases stand in a superset- or subset-relationship to each other. More precisely, the dependent variable being the promotion of alternative energies will be operationalized through the financial promotion of renewables in each canton relative to its total expenses.
We expect the promotion of renewable energies to be linked to specific and complex combinations of context factors. Following the multiple streams approach we assume the combination of a high problem awareness in the public, a high feasibility and the absence of a strong non-renewable energy lobby to be a condition for a strong financial promotion of renewable energies. Concurrently we imply causal asymmetry and argue that a strong focus on nuclear energies in the current energy mix and the lack of a significant unexploited natural potential for renewable energies leads to a weak financial support for renewables. With these insights we will contribute to the clarification of the climate-environment-energy nexus and extend the multiple streams approach for future applications.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science
03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Kammermann, Lorenz, Ingold, Karin Mirjam


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Lorenz Kammermann

Date Deposited:

28 Jun 2017 12:36

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:03


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