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The Economics of Energy Market Transformation Programs

Richard Duke and Daniel M. Kammen

Year: 1999
Volume: Volume20
Number: Number 4
DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol20-No4-2
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This paper evaluates three energy-sector market transformation programs: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Lights program to promote on-grid efficient lighting; the World Bank Group's new Photovoltaic Market Transformation Initiative; and the federal grain ethanol subsidy. We develop a benefit-cost model that uses experience curves to estimate unit cost reductions as a function of cumulative production. Accounting for dynamic feedback between the demand response and price reductions from production experience raises the benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of the first two programs substantially. The BCR of the ethanol program, however, is approximately zero, illustrating a technology for which subsidization was not justified. Our results support a broader role for market transformation programs to commercialize new environmentally attractive technologies, but the ethanol experience suggests moderately funding a broad portfolio composed of technologies that meet strict selection criteria.

Climate Policies: A Burden, or a Gain?

Thierry Brechet and Henry Tulkens

Year: 2015
Volume: Volume 36
Number: Number 3
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.36.3.tbre
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That climate policies are costly is evident and therefore often create major fears. But the alternative (no action) also has a cost. Therefore, mitigation costs netted of the damage costs avoided are the only figure that can seriously be considered as the "genuine cost" of a policy. We elaborate on this view of a policy's cost by distinguishing between its "direct" cost component and its avoided damage cost component; we then confront the two so as to evaluate its genuine cost. As damages avoided are equivalent to the benefits generated, this brings climate policies naturally in the realm of benefit-cost analysis. However, the sheer benefit-cost criterion may not be a sufficient incentive for a country to be induced to cooperate internationally, a necessary condition for an effective global climate policy. We therefore also explore how to make use of this criterion in the context of international climate cooperation.

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