Faculty of Law

UiB-researchers with great contributions to The Routledge Handbook of Energy Law

- Globalization and climate change has caused a convergence in the energy world. In this book, we aim to discuss energy law in a global context, says Ignacio Herrera-Anchustegui, associate professor at the Faculty of Law, UiB.

bilde av ignacio herrera anchustegui
Assistant professor Ignacio Herrera Anchustegui has become one of the leading scholars within the field of energy law. - As I ventured into energy matters, I realized the immense potential of the field. After all, modern life without energy and electricity in particular is not feasible and the field is at a turning point with energy transition and transformation demanding policy and regulatory changes, he says.

Herrera-Anchustegui has contributed to a new publication; The Routledge Handbook of Energy Law. This is a definitive global survey of the discipline of Energy Law, and is written by several colleagues from different academic institutions.

A mixed group of academics have collaborated in the book’s writing process. According to Herrera-Anchustegui, this was a deliberate decision as the Handbook is aimed at a broad Energy Law audience: from students venturing in the world of energy law to academics exploring novel and complex topics. 

– With 35 chapters written by leading experts and spawning all continents, the book shows the greatest challenges for energy law and how depending on the geographical location, natural resources availability, societal features and legal cultures are similar - yet vastly different, Herrera-Anchustegui says.

Energy hunger and the climate crisis

Along with Professor Tina Soliman Hunter, University of Aberdeen, Herrera-Anchustegui has written the introduction, as well as contributed to other chapters. UiB-professor Ernst Nordtveit has written a chapter named International energy law in perspective: the relationship between national and international energy law.

What the contributors have in common is the academic interest of the multifaceted challenges facing the energy law: Climate change and the growing need for energy.

– In 1900 the world had about 1.6 billion people. 120 years later that number has jumped to almost 8 billion. That is an increase of 5 times – meaning at least five times more demand for energy. Human activity and this energy hunger come at a price – climate change and its adverse effects. Energy regulation has to balance the need of ensuring sufficient and affordable power for everyone and limit climate change adverse effects. This is clearly reflected in the content of the book. Connected to this, the world is transitioning from what the call in Chapter 1 of the book the ‘Age of the Hydrocarbon Man” into the “Age of the Electricity Man”. Societies are increasingly electrifying – in part due to the need for renewable energy and new technologies, but also as a geopolitical move, making countries less dependent on imported energy sources, he says.

And as the world’s need for energy is rising, the emissions do follow. However, some energy sources are greener than others.

– What is important, for example, in Europe – in which renewable energy is at the top of the agenda – is less so in the Middle East or Latin America – where hydrocarbons still play a major role. Oil and gas are not going out of style, he says.

Covid-19 triggered novel questions

According to Herrera-Anchustegui, the modern challenges of energy law are all interrelated to this complex energy transition: accommodating rules for renewable energy, ensuring well-functioning markets, dealing with geopolitical shifts and continued hydrocarbon dependence and how to guarantee a just and fair transition for all.

- Several questions remain; even some new ones have been triggered by this COVID-19 crisis that has led to negative oil prices for the first time in history. Is the world as dependent as it used to be on hydrocarbons? And can we effectively replace them? What will be the future of energy-rich but socially poor countries? Will they cease the extraction of hydrocarbons to venture into renewable (and perhaps also for them more expensive) renewable energy? Energy poverty issues and simply providing the most unfortunate with sufficient affordable energy access is still a major challenge. 1.2 billion people today live with no access to electricity. Can markets deliver this or states will have to intervene? How fast, or to put it differently, will the transition to renewable energy happen fast enough? Europe is now at the crossroads of shifting to a green economy and by 2050 with the promise of being CO2 neutral. The law and policy need to be set in place if this vision is to be realized.

The Clean Energy Package explained

Together with Andreas Formosa, Senior Associate, Clifford Chance, he has written a chapter named “Regulation of electricity markets in Europe in light of the Clean Energy Package: prosumers and demand response”. In this chapter, they discuss how the electricity market is moving from a national and regional subject matter, and directly into your home.

– The Clean Energy Package is the latest set of European Directives and Regulations pushing for the ‘greenification’ of the European electricity system. At its core, the changes introduced are aimed at facilitating and promoting the integration of renewable energy in the European electricity markets –and promoting the idea of active consumers.  For all of us as normal end energy consumers the Clean Energy Package, once implemented at the national level, should mean easier access to renewable energy in the market, no barriers for us to not only consume but produce energy – and sell it to the market too, for instance if you own a solar panel over your rooftop. That is where the expression prosumer or active consumer comes from. And lastly and perhaps more noticeable, every end consumer will see receive a new ‘smart’ meter. These appliances, as well as electro domestics equipped with internet access, allow controlling electricity consumption and regulating it too to our advantage.

– Energy law and regulations – how did this topic catch your academic interest? 

- As I ventured into energy matters, I realized the immense potential of the field. After all, modern life without energy and electricity in particular is not feasible and the field is at a turning point with energy transition and transformation demanding policy and regulatory changes. And more so at home where so much potential is available for offshore wind electricity generation and yet this remains so unclear from a regulatory perspective. My road to energy law and now more narrowly focused on offshore wind activity with my new project “Governing Offshore Wind: Legal Challenges, Market Opportunities and Policy Perspectives (GOV-WIND)” came as a progression of my work on market regulation and competition law. After my PhD in buyer power issues, I was fortunate to be awarded a research grant through the AkademiaAvtalen between Equinor and the UiB to research into the competitive regulation of energy markets – and this book is part of this project’s output.