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Energy R&D in private and state-owned utilities: an analysis of the major world electric companies

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  • Alessandro STERLACCHINI

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Abstract

The last two decades have witnessed a staggering decline of R&D investment in the fields of energy and electricity. This paper contends that this widespread phenomenon is mainly ascribable to the processes of liberalisation and privatisation of electricity markets which have induced electric utilities to dramatically reduce R&D expenditures. A closer inspection to recent data concerned with ten major electric companies of the world shows that the drop of research expenditures was particularly strong among the private or newly-privatised companies. Instead, those that remained under public control did not reduce R&D efforts and such a choice was not at odds with the goal of increasing company profits. According to these findings and to the widely recognised need of a surge of energy R&D, radical policy measures seem necessary. Along with an R&D obligation for private electric utilities, also an extension of public ownership or the introduction of public-private partnerships should be seriously taken into account.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2010-29.

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Date of creation: 27 Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2010-29

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Keywords: Energy R&D; Electric utilities; Public and private enterprises;

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References

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  1. Jamasb, Tooraj & Pollitt, Michael, 2008. "Liberalisation and R&D in network industries: The case of the electricity industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6-7), pages 995-1008, July.
  2. Machiel Mulder & Victoria Shestalova & Gijsbert Zwart, 2006. "Liberalisation of European energy markets: challenges and policy options," CPB Document 138, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  3. Dooley, J J, 1998. "Unintended consequences: energy R&D in a deregulated energy market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(7), pages 547-555, June.
  4. Munari, Federico & Roberts, Edward B. & Sobrero, Maurizio, 2002. "Privatization processes and the redefinition of corporate R&D boundaries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 31-53, January.
  5. Nemet, Gregory F. & Kammen, Daniel M., 2007. "U.S. energy research and development: Declining investment, increasing need, and the feasibility of expansion," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 746-755, January.
  6. Paroma Sanyal, 2007. "The effect of deregulation on environmental research by electric utilities," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 335-353, June.
  7. Luc BERNIER & Louis SIMARD, 2007. "The Governance Of Public Enterprises: The Quebec Experience," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 78(3), pages 455-474, 09.
  8. Calderini, Mario & Garrone, Paola, 2001. "Liberalisation, industry turmoil and the balance of R&D activities," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 199-230, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Maria Teresa Costa-Campi & Néstor Duch-Brown & José García-Quevedo, 2013. "R&D drivers and obstacles to innovation in the energy industry," Working Papers 2013/23, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  2. AGRELL, Per & BOGETOFT, Peter, 2011. "Smart-grid investments, regulation and organization," CORE Discussion Papers 2011072, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Lionel Nesta & Francesco Vona & Francesco Nicolli, 2012. "Environmental Policies, Product Market Regulation and Innovation in Renewable Energy," Working Papers 2012.90, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  4. Schmitt, Stephan & Kucsera, Denes, 2013. "The Impact of the Regulatory Reform Process on R&D Investment of European Electricity Utilities," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 80035, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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