Even with technologies and financing available, implementing renewable energy technologies is not an easy task. They depend on positive enabling conditions such as incentive structures, political support and institutional capacity. Despite the availability of country-specific renewable energy potential analyses and economic feasibility studies, a comprehensive overview of the political dimension beyond support schemes, but including relevant governance structures for promoting renewables in developing countries, is still missing (REN21 2015b). Political aspects are highly relevant to renewable energy development, but are too often neglected or underestimated by policy-makers and project developers. Incentive structures and support schemes for renewables represent the most widely discussed political aspects related to energy transitions. Policies include fiscal mechanisms such as tax exemptions or cash revenues, but especially nonfiscal mechanisms such as a renewable portfolio standard, feed-in tariffs or a priority dispatch for renewables. Scholars such as Komor (2004) and Hirschl (2008) provide overviews on possible policy interventions to promote renewables. Thiam (2011) investigates how tariff policies could push renewable energy development. These and other regulatory interventions mobilize and facilitate private investment and finance. They aim to provide some structural advantage for renewables in their competition with fossil fuels (UNEP Finance Initiative 2012, p. 9). Beyond these classical government-led instruments, promoting renewables can be linked to more fundamental governance issues such as participation,

democratization and decentralization in the energy sector (O’Riordan 1996). A decentralized electricity system based on small-scale renewables can lead to people’s involvement and even ownership of the system. Participation and ownership are also key aspects in development cooperation when aiming for self-sustained projects. At the same time, the national government needs to set priorities for renewables. The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU 2011, p. 1) calls for a “proactive state [. . .] that actively sets priorities for the transformation, at the same time increasing the number of ways in which its citizens can participate to support a transition towards sustainability.” Energy transitions can be initiated not only at the national, but also at the local level. Renewable energy development can be investigated as a bottom-up process with people and local authorities pushing for change, but also from a top-down perspective, with a central government being in charge of national energy planning, energy security etc. (Geels 2011; Jørgensen 2012; Weischer et al. 2011). In both cases, coordinating renewable energy development strategies within multi-level governance frameworks is a key challenge due to the involvement of different (planning and implementing) actors with diffuse interests at various levels of decision-making. Competencies, conflicts, capacities, power structures and issues of coordination play an important role in understanding the potential of and barriers to an energy transition. Additional aspects such as corruption, nepotism or patronage can be dominant factors, especially in the developing world. For developing countries, renewables are often seen as a possible solution for their energy dilemma – a tension between the need for energy security in the light of growing demand and the need to reduce environmental degradation and check the rise of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions tied to climate change at the same time (e.g. Bradshaw 2014; Hallding et al. 2009; Sovacool 2008). Regulating this area of tension requires political decisions in favor of or against a certain path of energy system development.