As the world grows more conscious of the negative impacts of climate change, the pressure to reduce global carbon emissions has intensified. One of the most effective ways to achieve this goal is through the rapid deployment of renewable energy sources. Among the many policy tools used to drive the growth of renewables, renewable portfolio standards (RPS) have emerged as a popular tool in many countries. However, an RPS is only effective if it stimulates competition by encouraging innovation in the renewable energy sector.

What is an RPS and how does it work?

An RPS is a policy mechanism that requires utilities or electricity suppliers to produce or purchase a specific percentage of the electricity they generate from renewable sources. The percentage increases over time until a renewable energy target is met, typically in the range of 20%-50% depending on the country. RPS programs are designed to increase the amount of renewable electricity generated, incentivize renewable energy development, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Harnessing the Power of Competition: The role of RPSs

RPSs can drive innovation and competition by creating a market demand for renewable energy sources. If the RPS is designed well, it can lead to lower costs, accelerated technological innovation, and the emergence of more diverse renewable energy technologies.

For example, several countries, such as Germany and Denmark, have been able to achieve rapid growth in renewable energy through strong RPS policies. The policies have spurred innovation in wind and solar technologies that are now competitive with fossil fuels. Nearly 30 U.S. states have implemented RPS policies since the late 1990s, with many states setting targets of 25% or more renewable electricity by 2025. These policies have led to the creation of new jobs, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and increased energy security.

However, not all RPS policies are created equal. The success of RPSs depends on the design of the policy, including the target percentage, the length of the policy period, and the penalties for non-compliance. One of the critical factors is ensuring that the policy creates enough competition among energy companies to incentivize innovation in the renewable energy sector.

Global RPS Programs: Driving Innovation

As global carbon emissions continue to increase, many countries are implementing RPS policies to incentivize renewable energy development. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), as of 2019, at least 63 countries had implemented RPS policies or had similar mechanisms in place to incentivize renewable energy production. Despite the growing popularity of RPS policies, many countries still face challenges in achieving their renewable energy targets.

In response, some countries have adopted innovative approaches to their RPS policies to overcome these challenges and spur innovation in the renewable energy sector.

For example, in Indonesia, the government has established a feed-in-tariff mechanism known as the second-generation RPS, which provides long-term price support to renewable power producers. This program has stimulated the development of the country’s first industrial-scale wind farm and is expected to accelerate renewable energy growth in the country.

In India, the government has implemented a competitive bidding process for solar and wind power projects. The competitive auction system has led to significant cost reductions for renewable energy and has led to the emergence of new players in the renewable energy sector.


RPS policies can be a powerful tool in driving innovation and competition in the renewable energy sector. However, their effectiveness depends on the design of the policy and the creation of enough competition among energy companies. As climate change continues to pose a significant threat to the world, it is critical that countries continue to adopt innovative approaches to their RPS policies to accelerate renewable energy growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By harnessing the power of competition, we can create a brighter, more sustainable future for everyone.

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