State-owned enterprises and the low-carbon transition

This paper explores the role of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the low-carbon transition in OECD and G20 countries. It tracks GHG emissions and energy investments by SOEs and analyses the impact of SOEs on investments in renewable electricity. A descriptive analysis of SOEs’ role in the electricity sector shows the continued importance of SOEs, including prominent investments in both renewables and fossil-fuelbased electricity generation. Using data gathered across OECD and G20 countries, including newly collected SOE ownership data, a regression analysis shows a positive influence of state ownership on renewables investments when controlling for other market structure effects, including market concentration. These results are consistent with the main hypothesis that SOEs have an overall positive effect on renewables investments. This could both be a sign that SOEs gain competitive advantage with respect to capital-intensive renewables investments through preferential treatment (e.g. lower capital costs), as well as that governments use SOEs as vehicles to implement renewable policy goals. These factors seem to outweigh any effect of crowding out private competitors. The analysis shows a negative effect of high market concentration on renewables investments, possibly due to restricted market access for more innovative market newcomers, and the negative interaction between SOE ownership and the amount of renewable capacity tendered for renewable capacity, pointing towards opportunities for improved tender design.

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