Policy Analysis: The perils of picking technological winners in renewable energy policy

(February 28, 2010) An Energy Probe study by Michael J. Trebilcock and James S.F. Wilson.

Policymakers, for the most part, have accepted the scientific consensus on the man-made causes of global warming, including the likely effects and potential costs of global warming, and they have accepted as calamitous the prospect of failing to combat it. Policy-makers then shifted their focus from the severity of the problem to deciding what to do about it.

In this paper, the authors discuss some of the conflicts that may arise because of widespread reliance on one form of technology policy – public subsidies for currently-available green energy technologies – and we propose a means of avoiding these conflicts by adopting an alternative approach to technology policy that excludes these forms of public subsidies: a “winner neutral” approach that prioritizes public investments that many different market actors can benefit from as they compete to discover and develop “winning” (i.e. environmentally friendly and economically viable) energy technologies.”

Read the study in full here in a PDF format.

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