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Energy Journal Issue

The Energy Journal
Volume 39, Number 1

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Long-term endogenous economic growth and energy transitions

Victor Court, Pierre-André Jouvet, and Frédéric Lantz

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.1.vcou
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This article builds a bridge between the endogenous economic growth theory, the biophysical economics perspective, and the past and future transitions between renewable and nonrenewable energy forms that economies have had to and will have to accomplish. We provide an endogenous economic growth model subject to the physical limits of the real world, meaning that nonrenewable and renewable energy production costs have functional forms that respect physical constraints, and that technological level is precisely defined as the efficiency of primary-touseful exergy conversion. The model supports the evidence that historical productions of renewable and nonrenewable energy have greatly influenced past economic growth. Indeed, from an initial almost-renewable-only supply regime we reproduce the increasing reliance on nonrenewable energy that has allowed the global economy to leave the state of economic stagnation that had characterized the largest part of its history. We then study the inevitable transition towards complete renewable energy that human will have to deal with in a not-too-far future since nonrenewable energy comes by definition from a finite stock. Through simulation we study in which circumstances this transition could have negative impacts on economic growth (peak followed by degrowth phase). We show that the implementation of a carbon price can partially smooth such unfortunate dynamics, depending on the ways of use of the income generated by the carbon pricing.

Decomposing aggregate CO2 emission changes with heterogeneity: An extended production-theoretical approach

H. Wang, B.W. Ang, and P. Zhou

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.1.hwan
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Quantifying the driving forces behind changes in aggregate CO2 emissions provides valuable information for supporting policy making in addressing climate change. We study this issue using the production-theoretical decomposition analysis (PDA) technique. Within a production theory framework, PDA examines CO2 emission changes from the perspective of productive efficiency. Although regional and sectoral heterogeneities in energy consumption and emission patterns prevail, they have not been taken into account in the PDA literature. By incorporating relevant decomposition methods, this study proposes an extended PDA approach to resolving the heterogeneity issue. The approach is applied to examine China's aggregate CO2 emission changes in its 11th five-year plan period (2005- 2010). By accounting for the heterogeneities, detailed results at the regional and sectoral levels are generated and further discussions presented.

On the effectiveness of feed-in tariffs in the development of solar photovoltaics

Elbert Dijkgraaf, Tom P. van Dorp, and Emiel Maasland

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.1.edij
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Growing concern about climate change and rising prices of fossil fuels has prompted governments to stimulate the development of renewables. The most common instrument is a feed-in tariff (FIT). This paper empirically tests whether or not FIT policies have been effective in encouraging the development of photovoltaic solar (PV), explicitly taking into account the structure and consistency of FITs. Panel data estimations are employed for 30 OECD member countries in the period 1990-2011. We find a positive effect of the presence of a FIT on the development of a country's added yearly capacity of PV per capita. This is in line with the results found in the existing literature. However, our study shows that the literature underestimates the potential impact of FITs, as the effect of a well-designed FIT is much larger than the average effect of the currently applied FITs. Not only the height of the tariff is important, but also the duration of the contract and the absence/presence of a cap have an impact. We also show that consistency greatly affects the effectiveness of FITs. Consistency is especially important when the tariff of a FIT is low. The total effect of a FIT can be seven times larger if it is well designed. Our results are robust for differences between countries with respect to the availability of other policy instruments, the use of nuclear or hydro power and the level of CO2 emissions.

Hedging Strategies: Electricity Investment Decisions under Policy Uncertainty

Jennifer Morris, Vivek Srikrishnan, Mort Webster, and John Reilly

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.1.jmor
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Given uncertainty in long-term carbon reduction goals, how much non-carbon generation should be developed in the near-term? This research investigates the optimal balance between the risk of overinvesting in non-carbon sources that are ultimately not needed and the risk of underinvesting in non-carbon sources and subsequently needing to reduce carbon emissions dramatically. We employ a novel framework that incorporates a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the U.S. into a two-stage stochastic approximate dynamic program (ADP) focused on decisions in the electric power sector. We solve the model using an ADP algorithm that is computationally tractable while exploring the decisions and sampling the uncertain carbon limits from continuous distributions. The results of the model demonstrate that an optimal hedge is in the direction of more non-carbon investment in the near-term, in the range of 20-30% of new generation. We also demonstrate that the optimal share of non-carbon generation is increasing in the variance of the uncertainty about the long-term carbon targets, and that with greater uncertainty in the future policy regime, a balanced portfolio of non-carbon, natural gas, and coal generation is desirable.

Asian Spot Prices for LNG and other Energy Commodities

Abdullahi Alim, Peter R. Hartley, and Yihui Lan

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.1.aali
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We investigate the relationship between the Japan-Korea Marker (JKM) price of LNG, which has become more important as spot trading of LNG has increased, and spot prices of Brent oil, fuel oil and thermal coal in Asia. We find that the JKM price appears to reflect inter-fuel competition in Asia. In this respect, it could be better than oil or other spot natural gas prices as a reference price for indexing long-term LNG contracts in Asia. The JKM may also be suitable for underpinning the development of an LNG pricing hub in Asia with associated derivatives markets.