The European energy system is being transformed by three major forces, decarbonisation, digitalisation and decentralisation. Decarbonisation is changing the European energy mix, while innovation in digital technologies is enabling disruptive change in the way energy systems are operated.
A country’s relative strength in exporting a certain product is likely to persist. But it is easier to gain a comparative advantage in exporting low carbon products. When it comes to R+D, strength in a certain technological field is much less linked to past specialisation. This also holds for low carbon technologies. Finally, our preliminary findings are consistent with the view that R+D can help a country specialise in clean technology exports. However, we are not yet able to show that policy action supporting R+D in clean technologies is a sensible way to develop a comparative export advantage in these sectors.
What is the possible future relationship between the EU and the UK in light of Brexit? The report provides a critical assessment of the implications of existing models of cooperation between third countries and the European Union on energy, electronic communications, research policy and small business policy.
The proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline could destabilise European energy cooperation and offer Gazprom excessive influence in Central and Eastern Europe. These disadvantages do not justify the commercial benefits for German companies.
Gazprom is pushing ahead with plans to build a second gas pipeline under the Baltic sea, straight form Russia to Germany. Supporters claim that Ukraine cannot be relied on as a transit partner, and that Europe will need more gas in the future. Georg Zachmann is unconvinced, and argues that the project should wait.
US President Trump has made it clear that he is not happy with the Paris Agreement. This week he will announce whether the US will withdraw from the Agreement altogether. What might that mean for the global fight against climate change? US decarbonisation is already well underway but the EU would need to step up and defend global climate governance.
New inventions build on earlier inventions, so patent citations are one indication of who is standing on whose shoulders. We show that four low-carbon technologies (wind, solar, electric vehicles and batteries) exhibit markedly different patterns of citation behaviour. If technology spillovers are structurally different between sectors, this could imply that policies to support innovation clusters would need different approaches. Differentiated policies could range from promoting individual champions for technologies with strong internal spillovers, to supporting regional eco-systems for technologies with more fuzzy spillovers.
The effort to define rules for international emissions trading faces the strong desire of nation states to develop their own climate policies, which collides with the need for tradable units in one country to be equivalent to tradable units in another country. To overcome this dilemma Georg Zachmann proposes a club of carbon-buying countries that would regulate only imported mitigation outcomes.