A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a public policy tool requiring a certain amount of renewable electricity relative to the entire electricity supply. These policies are meant to increase generation from “renewable”, or more broadly “clean” technologies that are legally defined within the policy. An RPS can be motivated by environmental, economic, or geopolitical reasons. As of April 2017, 173 countries had some form of and RPS in place.
To be considered an RPS, the case studies suggest the policy must include: a capacity target (either as a percentage of the grid, a MW generation capacity, or a MWh produced energy), a target year, a list of eligible technologies and whether the technology can be existing or new, considerations for renewable imports and credits, and an enforcement structure. While this is the basic structure, there are large variations in RPS structures internationally. The RPS itself is influenced by policy design that often includes capacity analysis (i.e. how much sunlight hits a region), stakeholder input, incentivizing procurements, and a cost-containment provision.
Besides RPSs, other policies can be developed to procure renewable technologies or support the adoption of the RPS. Feed-in-tariffs or price structures like net metering can help to provide a stable income that enables financing. Transmission planning, identifying a central compliance authority, and aligning of program timescales can also be used to support the RPS.
As described below, in the report, six countries are cited with unique features of their RPSs. These features are highlighted to enable further exploration in various contexts and may not be suitable for all countries or jurisdictions.