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Final Report Summary - G-ETI (The Governance of Energy Technology Innovation: Investigating Regulatory Regimes in Shale Gas)

Energy technology innovation (ETI) is widely considered crucial to both secure affordable energy supplies and cater climate goals. ETI does, however, not happen in vacuum. Rather, it is subject to a complex interplay between the public sector, private actors and the surrounding institutional environment. This research project focused on the role of governance and regimes in fostering or preventing energy technology innovation. It assessed a recent technological break-through originating from the US with potentially significant repercussions for Europe: shale gas. Shale gas technology allows generating vital energy supplies domestically by at the same time replacing coal fired power plants, thus reducing carbon emissions. A nascent sector, shale gas provides a unique opportunity to explore the evolvement of regulatory regimes in a new industry; the way how actors and environments play out in different national texts; and the opportunities and obstacles surrounding technology transfer from one regulatory regime to the other.

The project contributed to the academic literature on regulatory governance, policy regimes and policy transfer. Adopting an interdisciplinary and mixed-method approach, it generated country level data on policy regimes in energy and provided for rich comparative insights into the cases of the Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, particularly against the US experience. That way, it allowed drawing policy relevant conclusions on the opportunities and limits of policy transfer in shale gas. Importantly, the project resonated with the larger geopolitical challenges pertaining to European energy. Given the presence of one dominant natural gas supplier in Central Eastern Europe – Russia – the project and its results have a clear socio-economic impact and are of societal relevance, not the least against the ongoing tensions in the context of the Ukraine crisis and emerging energy security concerns in that context.

The findings from the G-ETI project have on the one hand informed academic debates on regulatory governance and policy regimes. The project has generated several high impact journal articles, either accepted for publication or under review, a book contribution, and a book contract with a reputable academic publishing house (Cambridge University Press). The researcher has presented analytical and empirical results at high level academic conferences including the International Association for Energy Economics, the European Consortium for Political Research and the International Political Science Association, and at academic workshops at Harvard University, Carnegie Europe, TCU Texas, WorldWatch and the World Bank. Project results have on the other hand also been fed into related debates surrounding energy security in natural gas, notably in Central Eastern Europe. Here, the project proved invaluable for acting as a presenter to an expert workshop at the US Department of Energy, as a keynote speaker for the Deutsche Bundesbank / US NABE Annual Symposium, as a featured panelist at the annual BP / Harvard / Fletcher School Symposia on Energy Policy, or for participating in an academic team flanking the German G7 presidency in 2015.

Clearly, the project’s results have ‘travelled’ beyond academia and were made valuable for the policy world. Notably, the researcher has served a member of the 'European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction' launched by the European Commission in 2014, and has reached out to stakeholder in the shale gas debate, notably at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies’ (IASS) Stakeholder Dialogue on European Energy Perspectives on Shale Gas.

Upon completion of the project, the researcher established himself as a key point of reference in the field of energy technology innovation and European shale gas, and now serves as a ‘knowledge hub’ on this topic in Europe and the US. More specifically, he has become a frequently cited source on shale gas in East European energy supply, both among public officials and the media, where he has been featured in international outlets such as NPR, Voice of America, Interfax, Fortune Magazine and Foreign Policy. Addressing a broader, general interest audience, the researcher’s opinion pieces on European and US shale gas and fracking have, among other, been featured in Europe’s World and The Conversation, and the project’s results have been widely disseminated through social media, notably the Twitter channels of the researcher and his host institutions in Europe (Central European University) and the US (Harvard Kennedy School).

By way of feeding research results into both academic and policy debates in Europe, the G-ETI project has therefore clearly supported dialogue between sectors and disciplines, a key aim of the European Research Area. Moreover, the knowledge acquired during the project is now been taught in the researcher’s home institution, where he has firmly anchored energy and regulatory governance in the teaching portfolio, with a view to sharing the knowledge acquired in the G-ETI project among students and the broader CEU community.

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