Energy efficiency retrofits are often impeded by high perceived investment risks, long payback periods and a lack of skills. At the municipal level these issues are particularly pronounced as procuring, implementing, and managing retrofits can exceed existing municipal governance capacities. The diffusion of municipal LED street lighting as a replacement for conventional lighting serves as an example. This paper argues that technological (e.g. complexity and maturity), economic (e.g. selling services vs. products and financing costs), institutional (e.g. property situation and contracts) and competency barriers to retrofitting (e.g. lack of measurement capacity and qualified facilitators) translate into transaction costs. We develop a taxonomy of appropriate modes of municipal retrofitting governance based on transaction costs economics. The findings indicate that more market-based solutions, energy performance contracts in particular, can facilitate the procurement of innovative energy efficiency retrofitting solutions and associated investments among municipalities if neutral tenders, open-book accounting, municipal ownership and intermediary organisations allow municipalities to choose appropriate governance structures for particular technologies and retrofits.
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New working paper based on my PhD research published:
This paper analyses the field of innovation studies regarding barriers to low-carbon innovation and consequences for finance. It attempts to integrate previously separated literatures, bridge the gap between abstract failures and tangible barriers and add a temporal perspective to allow for more differentiated policy responses. Among the most salient problems for the commercialisation and diffusion of clean technologies, scholars have highlighted the financing environment. A complex set of barriers therefore revolves around the question of how to finance companies, projects and infrastructure based on low-carbon innovation. The paper contributes to a holistic understanding of the underlying mechanisms. A combination of technological barriers combined with economic barriers, institutional and political barriers contribute to thin financial market for low-carbon innovation all along the innovation cycle. Policy makers can chose from a variety of measures address these barriers and mobilise private finance. Avenues for future research relating to financing low-carbon innovation and corresponding policies are depicted.
Municipalities aiming at mitigating climate change by implementing new energy efficiency technologies face budgetary and capacity constraints. Outsourcing through energy service contracting could provide a solution. This paper reports results from a survey of 1298 municipalities concerning barriers to retrofitting public street lighting and the possible role of energy service contracting to overcome these barriers. Using a logistic regression analysis, the authors investigate determinants of opting for energy service contracts in the specific context of LED retrofits. Results point to an advantage of outsourcing in a financially and capacity-constrained environment, which corresponds with the main reasons for engaging in contracting: minimising investments and financial risks. However, municipalities often do not fully grasp the risks associated with retrofitting especially using a novel technology such as LED. In relation to that they underestimate the risk reduction potential of energy performance contracts (EPC). Previous experience with outsourcing increases the probability to engage in servitization although certain existing partnerships, particularly with utilities, prevent municipalities from considering energy performance contracts. Interestingly, engaging an energy consultant has a negative propensity to use energy service contracts, while pre-negotiated standardised contracts for energy performance contracts have a positive influence.
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Joint work with a colleague from Wageningen University online:
This research article explores the role of institutional innovation intermediaries in accelerating the commercialisation of (clean) technologies. Drawing on the finance and innovation intermediaries literatures, we show that financial barriers to eco-innovation can be partly overcome by particular functions of institutional innovation intermediaries; this in turn mobilises private finance along the innovation process. Therefore, we empirically evaluate the roles and instruments of institutional innovation intermediaries (innovation intermediation, policy support, public–private cooperation, financial instruments). Our contribution intersects both the finance and the innovation systems literature by exploring the finance mobilisation functions of institutional innovation intermediaries to address barriers to eco-innovation along the innovation process.
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Joint work with SPRU/UK has been published:
The UK market for energy service contracts is expanding, owing in part to the emergence of intermediaries for those contracts in different parts of the public sector. These intermediaries combine a legal framework for establishing contracts with an organisational framework that facilitates contract negotiation and execution. This paper examines the nature and operation of these intermediaries in more detail, including their achievements to date and their similarities and differences. It uses ideas from transaction cost economics to develop a theoretical model of the contracting decision and shows how intermediary organisations can lower the transaction costs incurred by both clients and contractors, thereby increasing the viability of contracting. The paper argues that intermediaries can play an important role in expanding the market for energy service contracts, and hence in delivering cost-effective energy efficiency improvements throughout the public sector.
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First paper published:
This paper examines the impact of public policy measures on renewable energy (RE) investments in electricity-generating capacity made by institutional investors. Using a novel combination of datasets and a longitudinal research design, we investigate the influence of different policy measures in a sample of OECD countries to suggest an effective policy mix which could tackle failures in the market for clean energy. The results call for technology-specific policies which take into account actual market conditions and technology maturity. To improve the conditions for institutional investments, advisable policy instruments include economic and fiscal incentives such as feed-in tariffs (FIT), especially for less mature technologies. Additionally, market-based instruments such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emission trading systems for mature technologies should be included. These policy measures directly impact the risk and return structure of RE projects. Supplementing these with regulatory measures such as codes and standards (e.g. RPS) and long-term strategic planning could further strengthen the context for RE investments.
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After almost one year of hard work we published final project report of our project Climate Change, Financial Markets and Innovation (CFI).
The scarcest resource is not oil, metals, clean air, capital, labor, or technology. It is our willingness to listen to each other and learn from each other and to seek the truth rather than seek to be right –
Donella Meadows, environmental scientist, teacher and writer (1941-2001)
I am giving a talk on sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Jena which hosts the „Global Citizenship Celebration 2012“ of the Melton Foundation.