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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sterlacchini, Alessandro, 2010. "Energy R&D in private and state-owned utilities: an analysis of the major world electric companies," MPRA Paper 20972, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:20972
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nesta, Lionel & Vona, Francesco & Nicolli, Francesco, 2014. "Environmental policies, competition and innovation in renewable energy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 396-411.
    2. Inglesi-Lotz, Roula, 2017. "Social rate of return to R&D on various energy technologies: Where should we invest more? A study of G7 countries," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 521-525.
    3. Maria Teresa Costa-Campi & Néstor Duch-Brown & José García-Quevedo, 2016. "Innovation strategies of energy firms," Working Papers 2016/28, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    4. Jamasb, Tooraj & Pollitt, Michael G., 2015. "Why and how to subsidise energy R+D: Lessons from the collapse and recovery of electricity innovation in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 197-205.
    5. Shouro Dasgupta, Shouro & De Cian, Enrica & Verdolini, Elena, 2016. "The Political Economy of Energy Innovation," MITP: Mitigation, Innovation,and Transformation Pathways 234939, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
    6. Patricia Laurens & Christian Bas & Antoine Schoen & Stéphane Lhuillery, 2016. "Technological contribution of MNEs to the growth of energy-greentech sector in the early post-Kyoto period," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 18(2), pages 169-191, April.
    7. Agrell, Per J. & Bogetoft, Peter & Mikkers, Misja, 2013. "Smart-grid investments, regulation and organization," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 656-666.
    8. Stefano Clò & Marco Di Giulio & Maria Tullia Galanti & Maddalena Sorrentino, 2016. "Italian state-owned enterprises after decades of reforms: Still public?," ECONOMIA PUBBLICA, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(3), pages 11-49.
    9. Costa-Campi, M.T. & Duch-Brown, N. & García-Quevedo, J., 2014. "R&D drivers and obstacles to innovation in the energy industry," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 20-30.
    10. Mariana Mazzucato & Gregor Semieniuk, 2016. "Financing Renewable Energy: Who is Financing What and Why it Matters," SPRU Working Paper Series 2016-12, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    11. 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.
    12. repec:eee:energy:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:388-399 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:eee:enepol:v:116:y:2018:i:c:p:220-231 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:617-:d:95887 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out

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