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Dries Maes, Estelle Petitclerc, Fanny Vanrykel, Xavier Defoy, Marc Bourgeois, and Bart Peeters (2016)

Policy combinations to navigate between private and public monopolies in emerging technological sectors

In: Global Conference on Environmental Taxation - Smart Instrument Mixes in a Greening Economy.

Finance is one of the main critical issues for the development of a low carbon society especially during times of economic recession. Closing this green investment gap will require policy intervention. This paper is part of a larger research project – the ALPI project – which aims at analysing and designing relevant instruments to accelerate the transition towards a low carbon society. As a showcase of emerging technologies in Belgium, the Hasselt University, the University of Liège and the Geological Survey of Belgium are investigating the regional potential for geothermal electricity production. Deep geothermal energy appears to be currently on the edge of a take-off. But the actual emergence of this technology is subject to developments in legislation and incentives from regional governments. Different risk/return expectations across stages of the investment continuum exist and the financial structures that are employed at each stage may require different types of public support. Considering the particularities of the development of geothermal energy in Belgium, we present different combinations of incentives to support geothermal energy, and we review different sector evolutions through a broad stakeholder consultation (policy makers, sector federations, industry, researchers, banking sector, investors, etc.). However, a reviewof the learning effects shows that neither of the two combinations can prevent a regional monopolisation of the underground as a natural resource either by a private first-mover, or a public investor. Therefore, intermediary solutions are proposed to providea balance between the two extremes, and to ensure an improved sector growth and a continuous open market. Keywords: Technological innovation, Policy instruments, Competition, Combination of policies
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