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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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  • Sterlacchini, Alessandro

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. However, a closer inspection to recent data concerned with ten major electric companies of the world shows that not all of them behaved in the same way. The drop of research expenditures was particularly strong among the private or newly-privatised companies, while those that remained under public control did not reduce R&D efforts. Moreover, the choice of maintaining an adequate level of R&D 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 University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 20972.

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Date of creation: 25 Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:20972

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

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Dooley, J J, 1998. "Unintended consequences: energy R&D in a deregulated energy market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(7), pages 547-555, June.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. AGRELL, Per J. & BOGETOFT, Peter & MIKKERS, Misja, . "Smart-grid investments, regulation and organization," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2457, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. 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).
  4. Lionel Nesta & Francesco Vona & Francesco Nicolli, 2012. "Environmental policies, product market regulation and innovation in renewable energy," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2012-25, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).

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