An instrument « overflowed by design : re§considering the dynamics of feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic electricity.


In France as in several European countries, feed-in tariffs have been the main driver of the recent deployment of grid-connected photovoltaics. This type of economic incentive applied to photovoltaics has triggered a dramatic increase in installed photovoltaic capacity and has entailed difficulties with the management and regulation of these booming new markets. The 2010 moratorium on feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic electricity in France is an example of such trouble.
Relying on actor-network theory works on market-making and politicisation, as well as on an analysis of the materiality of photovoltaic technologies, this communication will offer an alternative reading of feed-in tariffs as applied to photovoltaics. To this end, it will draw on the results from three case studies, each of which shed light on specific aspects and tensions of feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic electricity understood as political prices: the emergence and sophistication of feed-in tariffs for photovoltaics in the context of European renewable energy policy; the overflowing of the photovoltaic market that they provoked and the political crisis that ensued in France between 2009 and 2012; and the way in which they can be seized as instruments for territorial development and translated into economic and political resources. The communication will show that feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic electricity can be described as political market agencements meant to trigger the deployment of electricity generation capacities as much as to foster innovation and experimentation around photovoltaic technologies. The articulation of this dual aim is delicate, especially since the modularity of photovoltaic technologies enables them to proliferate and spread rapidly, making their deployment hard to steer. This re-interpretation of feed-in tariffs will thus suggest ways to account for and analyse the difficulties in regulating current photovoltaic markets.

KEY WORDS: feed-in tariffs, photovoltaics, market agencements, innovation, political prices.

Energy renovation of condominiums in France : The development of public policy observed from a national co-owners association.

Sylvaine LE GARREC (ARC/sociologist)

Representing more than a quarter of French housing, condominiums are an issue that can’t be ignored to reach saving energy target. However, in this sphere of housing, energy efficiency work comes up against specific difficulties. Indeed, in condominiums, renovation projects are necessarily a product of a collective decision and co-owners – and managing agents that advice them – don’t have the skills to implement ambitious upgrading programmes.
In the face of these problems, new policy tools were created, notably subsidies and the obligation for condominiums with central heating to carry out an energy audit. Putting energy efficiency on their agenda, local governments also developed experimentations to promote energy renovation of condominiums.
Meeting condominiums specific issues, energy management policies brought about the emergence of new actors and new local and national networks. In interface between field experiences and national policies development, these networks contribute to create and circulate new methods to help condominiums to implement energy renovation projects. These approaches revisit professional practices, invent new professions and question public action categories of energy management policies.
This paper proposes to report these process from the privileged observation point that I occupied for three year working as a sociologist in a co-owners national association, named Association des Responsables de Copropriété (ARC), which plays an important part in building networks and creating tools to favour energy renovation of condominiums.

KEY WORDS : public action, condominiums, co-ownership, housing, renovation.

Dynamic Modelling of Cost Systems (DMCS): social economy, non-material performance contracting, and heterodox accounting, applied to energy transition.

Clément MORLAT (University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines – UVSQ / Centre REEDS – Recherche en Économie écologique, Ecoinnovation et Ingénierie du Développement Soutenable).

Beyond the issues related to the availability, allocation and use of resources and energy products by and for the energy sectors, there are peripheral issues (both socio-economic and environmental) that influence society as a whole. The energy transition generates effects that are of interest to citizens, companies, local or regional authorities, and the government. From an economic point of view, these actors are all, each at their own level, both beneficiaries and financers of energy transition operations. An approach in which actors take into account the intangible and indirect links between value production, energy consumption and pressures on the environment and society is founded on a socio-economic rationale. However, the economy conventionally uses accounting and contract tools that take a normative approach. The reconciliation of these two rationales could make it possible to develop economic frameworks liable to improve both the financial profitability of transition projects, and the socio-economic and environmental benefits to society.
Firstly, the paper will present two economic approaches to valorising the social and environmental effects of energy transition projects. One aims to internalise the positive effects of energy efficiency operations in market or rental values. The other is concerned with the effects of operations within their local or regional area. Secondly, by looking at a contract-based operation aimed at technical-economic profitability (energy savings), the paper will consider the shift from bilateral and transitive valorisation of material production at the local level, to cooperative transactions that lead to valorisation of a service rendered by contracting the performance of a socio-technical system integrated into the region. Then, the paper will present the Dynamic Modelling of Cost Systems (DMSC) approach, which aims to represent the regional circulation of information and capital flows between the energy industry and society. The needs and advantages felt by the actors and the expression of values during cooperative transactions are subjective. The economic information useful for reconnecting the energy industry and society must therefore retain the actors’ own representations of the value(s) of transition projects. In other terms, it is a matter of integrating societal data into multi-criteria socio-economic and environmental information, and not merely aggregating these data into a financial signal.

MOTS CLÉS : Methodology, foresight, reflexivity; public policies and territories; the socio-economics of energy.

Change in fuel oils taxes : energy or fiscal transition?

Marianne OLLIVIER-TRIGALO (Paris-Est University /LVMT)

The Finance Act Project for 2014 has introduced a carbon base within the TICPE (the French Tax on Consumption of Energy Products). After several failures of the introduction of a carbon tax (« Contribution Climat Énergie »), the discreet vote of this measure gives the opportunity to take care of the “invisible pilots of public action” (Lorrain, 2004) and to test the hypothesis that sets that public policy changes are more perceptible through their instruments than their objectives. Here, the change in the fuel oils tax instrument brings out the very beginnings of an environmental policy applied to road sector. This last is based on the solidity of a well-proven fiscal policy (the TIP has been adopted in 1928 in order to organize the oil refinery ; the old choice to tax consumption has been reinforced next with the institution of the VAT in 1954), in a context when public expenditures are considered as a politic problem that tax revenues instruments come to solve partly.
This result can be linked to the Committee for ecological taxation that has been set up on december 2012 the 18th (by Delphine Batho the then minister of Ecology) as a consequence of the first environmental Conference and that was chaired by Christian de Perthuis (economist, univ. Paris-Dauphine, Climate Economics Chair). But, this measure only partly corresponds to the committee works and to the recommandations that have been shouldered its chairman. As a matter of fact, this one had proposed to change the TICPE structure by adding to the carbon base a mechanism aiming at bringing closer diesel and fuel taxes, by arguing about it that the difference was not justified anymore with regards to environmental objectives. This measure is considered as a myth in the road transport world but the introduction of the carbon base gives to it a very beginning of realization (the rate applied to diesel is higher than the fuel one).
This communication proposes to come back to the process that has allowed this measure, notably by analyzing how the actors have had to make some compromises in order to ajust their logics of action to the Budget designs, this last institution controlling (technically but also politically) the tax policy. Those compromises were concerning the intrinsic contradiction of environemental taxation : tax yield and acceptability vs incentives to behavioural change. The choices made to deal with this contradiction involve au question about the kind of transition: energy or fiscal? The change in the TICPE has been used to finance the CICE (tax credit for competitiveness and employment that is announced as a fiscal reform) with a relatively weak value of the carbon tonne and slower rythm of evolution than wished by environmental NGO. At the same time, however, using an existing tax instead of creating a new tax acted as a guarantee of success for the introduction of a carbon tax in France. This last one still remains in the Finance Act Project for 2015, surviving to the committee (the chairman has resigned from his post in october 2014) and to the succession of Ecology ministers (4 from May 2012).
This analyze is based on a survey by semi-structured interviews with most of the committee’s members (17 respondents between april and september 2014). The committee’s composition is of the same design as the Grenelle de l’environnement groups (NGO, employers, employees, local elect), to which has been added members of parliament (deputees, senators, european deputees). Two civil servants (from Ecology and Finance) were jointly dedicated to ensure the general secretary of the Committee. At last, the chairman has asked for some academic experts to help him for running working groups.

KEY WORDS: Ecological taxation, fuel oils, carbon base, public policy instrument.

The use of European structural funds for the financing of energy efficient refurbishment of housing.

Laura VANHUÉ (Freelance consultant)

The predominant position of energy efficiency issues in national and European public policies today brings up questions about the ability of governements to address and finance the important energy savings in buildings, in particular in the housing sector.
In order to tackle ambitious targets for increasing the energy efficient refurbishment of housing, public stakeholders are encouraging to set up schemes for the structuration of energy services on national, regional and local level.
The financing issue becomes in fact more important when it has to ensure access to fundings to low income households, the group most affected by energy powerty.
The limits and weaknesses of measures and programs supporting energy efficient renovation have been identified:
- They are insufficient to support households to take action and to go for ambitious renovation
- They are unable to address the higher volume flow of renovation projects
- The financial support is mostly limited to grants but less extended to innovative mechanisms of funding and financing.
The recent development of energy services which integrate all parts of a renovation project including his financing represents indeed an opportunity for all skateholders and a important contribution:
- It creates a link between all levels of action, national, regional as well as european,
- It has a real leverage effect of public financial support,
- Demand and supply get closer,
- It improves the efficiency of the construction sector around the renovation of buildings which are in majority SEMs involved on local level.
It is especially relevant in this policy context to analyse the rule of european financing, in particular Structural Funds.
Energy efficiency in buildings belongs in fact to the mean priorities of the european cohesion Policy in the coming programming period (2014-2020). Energy efficient refurbishment in housing will be supported by grants combined by the use of financial instruments in order to generate revolving sources of finance and improve the use of public ressources. The mean objective is to blend financial instruments in specific mechanisms adapted to cover the Financial needs of all housing segments in order to optimize the use of ressources and to concentrate the grants on the low income households.

KEY WORDS: financing, energy efficient refurbishment , european fundings, integrated approach of energy services, affordability.