A model of technological breakthrough in the renewable energy sector
AbstractModels with induced technological change in the energy sector often predict a gradual expansion of renewable energies, and a substantial share of fossil fuels remaining in the energy mix through the end of our century. However, there are historical examples where new products or technologies expanded rapidly and achieved a high output in a relatively short period of time. This paper explores the possibility of a 'technological breakthrough' in the renewable energy sector, using a partial equilibrium model of energy generation with endogenous R&D. Our results indicate, that due to increasing returns-to-scale, a multiplicity of equilibria can arise. In the model, two stable states can coexist, one characterized by a lower and one by higher supply of renewable energy. The transition from the low-output to the high-output equilibrium is characterized by a discontinuous rise in R&D activity and capacity investments in the renewable energy sector. The transition can be triggered by a rise in world energy demand, by a drop in the supply of fossil fuels, or by policy intervention. Under market conditions, the transition occurs later than in the social optimum. Hence, we identify a market failure related to path-dependence and technological lock-in, that can justify a strong policy intervention initially. Paradoxically, well-intended energy-saving policies can actually lead to higher emissions, as they reduce the incentives to invest in renewable energies by having a cushioning effect on the energy price. Hence, these policies should be supplemented by other instruments that restore the incentives to invest in renewable energies. Finally, we discuss the influence of monopoly power in the market for innovations. We show that market power can alleviate the problem of technological lock-in, but creates a new market failure that reduces static efficiency.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.
Volume (Year): 69 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (December)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon
Renewable energy Induced technological change Technological lock-in Path-dependence Energy sector;
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Janssen, Marco & de Vries, Bert, 1998. "The battle of perspectives: a multi-agent model with adaptive responses to climate change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 43-65, July.
- Carrillo-Hermosilla, Javier, 2006. "A policy approach to the environmental impacts of technological lock-in," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 717-742, July.
- Gerlagh, Reyer & Lise, Wietze, 2005. "Carbon taxes: A drop in the ocean, or a drop that erodes the stone? The effect of carbon taxes on technological change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2-3), pages 241-260, August.
- Fischer, Carolyn & Newell, Richard G., 2008.
"Environmental and technology policies for climate mitigation,"
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,
Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 142-162, March.
- Fischer, Carolyn & Newell, Richard, 2004. "Environmental and Technology Policies for Climate Mitigation," Discussion Papers dp-04-05, Resources For the Future.
- Gerlagh, Reyer, 2008. "A climate-change policy induced shift from innovations in carbon-energy production to carbon-energy savings," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 425-448, March.
- Nordhaus, William D., 1993.
"Rolling the 'DICE': an optimal transition path for controlling greenhouse gases,"
Resource and Energy Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 27-50, March.
- William D. Nordhaus, 1992. "Rolling the 'Dice': An Optimal Transition Path for Controlling Greenhouse Gases," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1019, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Krysiak, Frank C., 2008. "Prices vs. quantities: The effects on technology choice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1275-1287, June.
- Edenhofer, Ottmar & Bauer, Nico & Kriegler, Elmar, 2005. "The impact of technological change on climate protection and welfare: Insights from the model MIND," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2-3), pages 277-292, August.
- Hart, Rob, 2008. "The timing of taxes on CO2 emissions when technological change is endogenous," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 194-212, March.
- Gerlagh, R. & Kverndokk, S. & Rosendahl, K.E., 2009.
"Optimal timing of climate change policy: Interaction between carbon taxes and innovation externalities,"
Open Access publications from Tilburg University
urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3777015, Tilburg University.
- Reyer Gerlagh & Snorre Kverndokk & Knut Rosendahl, 2009. "Optimal Timing of Climate Change Policy: Interaction Between Carbon Taxes and Innovation Externalities," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(3), pages 369-390, July.
- David Popp, 2002. "Induced Innovation and Energy Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 160-180, March.
- Popp, David, 2006. "ENTICE-BR: The effects of backstop technology R&D on climate policy models," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 188-222, March.
- Jeroen van den Bergh & John Gowdy, 2000.
"Evolutionary Theories in Environmental and Resource Economics: Approaches and Applications,"
Environmental & Resource Economics,
European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 17(1), pages 37-57, September.
- Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh & John M. Gowdy, 1998. "Evolutionary Theories in Environmental and Resource Economics: Approaches and Applications," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 98-122/3, Tinbergen Institute.
- Unruh, Gregory C. & Carrillo-Hermosilla, Javier, 2006. "Globalizing carbon lock-in," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 1185-1197, July.
- Popp, David, 2004. "ENTICE: endogenous technological change in the DICE model of global warming," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 742-768, July.
- Goulder, Lawrence H. & Schneider, Stephen H., 1999. "Induced technological change and the attractiveness of CO2 abatement policies," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 211-253, August.
- Goulder, Lawrence H. & Mathai, Koshy, 2000. "Optimal CO2 Abatement in the Presence of Induced Technological Change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-38, January.
- Unruh, Gregory C., 2000. "Understanding carbon lock-in," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 817-830, October.
- Metcalfe, J S, 1994. "Evolutionary Economics and Technology Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 931-44, July.
- Unruh, Gregory C., 2002. "Escaping carbon lock-in," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 317-325, March.
- Lehmann, Paul & Gawel, Erik, 2011.
"Why should support schemes for renewable electricity complement the EU emissions trading scheme?,"
UFZ Discussion Papers
5/2011, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
- Lehmann, Paul & Gawel, Erik, 2013. "Why should support schemes for renewable electricity complement the EU emissions trading scheme?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 597-607.
- Fischer, Carolyn & Preonas, Louis, 2010.
"Combining Policies for Renewable Energy: Is the Whole Less Than the Sum of Its Parts?,"
International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics,
now publishers, vol. 4(1), pages 51-92, June.
- Fischer, Carolyn & Preonas, Louis, 2010. "Combining Policies for Renewable Energy: Is the Whole Less than the Sum of Its Parts?," Discussion Papers dp-10-19, Resources For the Future.
- Matthias Kalkuhl & Ottmar Edenhofer & Kai Lessmann, 2011.
"Learning or Lock-in: Optimal Technology Policies to Support Mitigation,"
CESifo Working Paper Series
3422, CESifo Group Munich.
- Kalkuhl, Matthias & Edenhofer, Ottmar & Lessmann, Kai, 2012. "Learning or lock-in: Optimal technology policies to support mitigation," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-23.
- Linus Mattauch & Felix Creutzig & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2012. "Avoiding Carbon Lock-In: Policy Options for Advancing Structural Change," Working Papers 1, Department of Climate Change Economics, TU Berlin, revised Feb 2012.
- Jean Charles Hourcade & Antonin Pottier & Etienne Espagne, 2011. "The environment and directed technical change : comment," Working Papers hal-00866435, HAL.
- Hritonenko, Natali & Yatsenko, Yuri, 2010. "Technological innovations, economic renovation, and anticipation effects," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 1064-1078, November.
- Pottier, Antonin & Hourcade, Jean-Charles & Espagne, Etienne, 2014. "Modelling the redirection of technical change: The pitfalls of incorporeal visions of the economy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 213-218.
- Samuel Fankhauser & Cameron Hepburn & Jisung Park, 2011. "Combining multiple climate policy instruments: how not to do it," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 37573, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Jean Charles Hourcade & Antonin Pottier & Etienne Espagne, 2011. "The environment and directed technical change : comment," CIRED Working Papers hal-00866435, HAL.
- Samuel Fankhauser & Cameron Hepburn & Jisung Park, 2011. "Combining multiple climate policy instruments: how not to do it," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 38, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
- Jean-Charles Hourcade & Antonin Pottier & Etienne Espagne, 2011. "The Environment and Directed Technical Change: Comment," Working Papers 2011.95, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.