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The role of policy in energy transitions: Lessons from the energy liberalisation era

  • Pollitt, Michael G.

The aim of this paper is to discuss the period of energy privatisation and liberalisation which began in the 1980s within its wider historical context. The key issues are what has been learned from this recent period, and how significant is it in the light of an energy transition to low carbon energy system by 2050? Energy liberalisation has led to positive and globally widespread but modest efficiency gains but a lack of clearly visible direct benefits to households in many countries. It has significantly improved the governance of monopoly utilities (via independent regulators), the prospects for competition and innovation, and the quality of policy instruments for environmental emissions control (through the emergence of trading mechanisms). We conclude that it is not liberalisation per se that will determine the movement towards a low carbon energy transition, but the willingness of societies to bear the cost, which will be significant no matter what the extent of liberalisation.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

Volume (Year): 50 (2012)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 128-137

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Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:50:y:2012:i:c:p:128-137
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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  1. Tooraj Jamasb & Michael Pollitt, 2005. "Electricity Market Reform in the European Union - Review of Progress toward Liberalization & Integration," Working Papers 0503, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  2. Chisari, Omar & Estache, Antonio & Romero, Carlos, 1999. "Winners and Losers from the Privatization and Regulation of Utilities: Lessons from a General Equilibrium Model of Argentina," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 357-78, May.
  3. Jamasb, Tooraj & Mota, Raffaella & Newbery, David & Pollitt, Michael, 2005. "Electricity sector reform in developing countries : a survey of empirical evidence on determinants and performance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3549, The World Bank.
  4. Pollitt, Michael, 2008. "Electricity reform in Argentina: Lessons for developing countries," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 1536-1567, July.
  5. Mary O’Mahony & Michela Vecchi, 2001. "The Electricity Supply Industry: A Study of an Industry in Transition," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 177(1), pages 85-99, July.
  6. Wolf, C. & Pollitt, M.G., 2009. "The Welfare Implications of Oil Privatisation: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Norway’s Statoil," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0912, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  7. Kwoka, John & Pollitt, Michael, 2010. "Do mergers improve efficiency? Evidence from restructuring the US electric power sector," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 645-656, November.
  8. Nagayama, Hiroaki, 2009. "Electric power sector reform liberalization models and electric power prices in developing countries: An empirical analysis using international panel data," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 463-472, May.
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