Translating EU renewable energy policy for insular energy systems: Reunion Island's quest for energy autonomy


  • Matthew Sawatzky University of Eastern Finland
  • Moritz Albrecht University of Eastern Finland


Recognition of the negative impacts of climate change has led to agreement on the need to decarbonise energy systems through the employment of renewable energy. With many national and transnational policies in place, the options available to insular energy systems (IES) differ from those of interconnected areas due to fragility in their production and distribution networks. Based on the concepts of policy mobility and translation, this study examines the interplay of EU renewable energy policy and insular governance processes aimed at achieving energy autonomy through renewable energy development. Reunion Island, a French Overseas Department and Region, is used as a case study to examine local energy governance processes, aspects that shape regional translation of national and EU policy, and the potential effects that create structures and pathways of energy transition. The study shows that Reunion Island’s regional Energy Governance Committee has significant application potential as a governance tool in other IES and small islands within the EU, but that renewable energy development is restricted due to national policy measures and path dependent governance structural constraints.


Popular article based on the paper, with commentaries, is published in Versus Research Dabate.

Research Papers



How to Cite

Sawatzky, M., & Albrecht, M. (2017). Translating EU renewable energy policy for insular energy systems: Reunion Island’s quest for energy autonomy. Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 195(2), 125–141.