Public Energy R&D Priorities in Small EU Member States: Evidence from Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands6 sep 2011
This article investigates energy R&D specialisation in Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands. The analysis is made taking into consideration the correlation between energy balances, public energy R&D spending and long-term energy policy objectives. Special attention is directed towards the prospective of developing cleaner forms of energy production. Governments in the European Union are increasingly accepting the implications of climate change and taking measures to transform their economies to a low carbon future. In this context, energy research development and demonstration (RD&D) are important policy instruments to meet national energy and climate policy objectives. Long-term public investments in RD&D play a central role in achieving these goals. It suggests that despite an increase in recent years, the three selected countries award a relatively low importance to energy research. When looking at research areas which receive public funding, it emerges that renewable energy and energy efficiency are highly prioritised, when compared to other areas such as fossil and nuclear energy. In all three countries, biomass research in particular is awarded extensive importance. It appears that changing preferences in society (relative to the incumbent need to reduce green house gases) are driving the political priorities towards funding more climate-friendly energy technologies. The three countries remain, to a large extent, dependent on fossil fuels in their energy balance. The paper concludes that increased attention on new renewable energy source and carbon capture and storage is needed if policy makers are determined in their intentions to direct their societies towards a low carbon future.