Excelling at renewable energy development is an important aspiration for many nations. Yet, at the national and sub-national level, responsibility for the development of renewable energy innovation policy is typically distributed across multiple stakeholders with diverse interests, and policy options are constrained by existing economic, institutional, and social factors. These barriers to coherent renewable energy development may be overcome by aligning accompanying strategies with broader energy development goals, and by expanding the network of stakeholders beyond renewable energy itself. In the context of the devolved government framework that Kenya is currently implementing, it is hugely expected that the sub-national entities (counties) will promote durable, coherent renewable energy development strategies. During a sectoral working group meeting of the County Executive Committee members responsible for energy convened at the Great Rift Valley Lodge (9th-14th January 2014), it was unanimously agreed that Counties should identify and adopt broad success criteria for renewable energy development and suggest strategic policy orientations to advance RET innovation in the context of constrained options, competition for resources, and national economic development goals. Successful renewable energy innovation policy regimes meet two broad criteria:

(a)    They promote sustained multi-stakeholder engagement around an achievable, shared vision; and

(b)   They appropriately position a country or region to anticipate and benefit from renewable energy technology flows.

These criteria reflect two general features of innovation itself. The first is that because innovation arises from a complex mix of social, financial, and technical factors, responsibility for innovation policy is naturally distributed across many institutions and actors. Thus, success will be promoted insofar as innovation policy discussions are integrated into existing macro-level policy and economic goals, providing a level of stability and coherence that might otherwise be lacking. The second feature is that innovation cannot typically be mandated, but rather must be enabled, and so policy-makers at the national and county level face the challenge of cultivating innovation capacity.Consequently, a key indicator of innovation policy success is growth in the ability of a nation or region to anticipate and benefit from flows of technology, accumulate stocks of knowledge and social capital, “learn how to learn,” and shift the rates of productivity and technological accumulation.

Since there is a wide range of technological maturity across the landscape of renewable energy technologies, it is important to recognise the different types of innovation at the County level that promote RET deployment. This objective can be supported by situating such policy development within broader county energy development goals, which strongly influence stakeholder networks and future technology flows. Attention to energy development goals also provides a basis for identifying likely innovation modes and the corresponding determinants of innovation capacity. Six energy development goals that, either alone or in combination, commonly shape energy development pathways, are identified. They are:

(a)    Energy Security;

(b)   Energy Access;

(c)    Energy Cost;

(d)   International Competitiveness;

(e)    Modernisation; and

(f)     Green House Gas (GHG) emissions reduction.

In the light of the foregoing, Counties are encouraged to develop legal and regulatory framework that will provide a step-wise process towards developing strategic renewable capacities.

Peter Wanyama, Legal Compliance Specialist

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