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Growth dynamics of energy technologies: using historical patterns to validate low carbon scenarios

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  • Charlie Wilson:
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    Abstract

    Historical growth dynamics of energy technologies reveal a consistent relationship between the extent to which a technology’s installed capacity grows and the time duration of that growth. This extent – duration relationship is remarkably consistent across both supply-side and demand-side technologies, and both old and new energy technologies. Consequently, it can be used as a means of validating future scenarios of energy technology growth under carbon constraints. This validation methodology is tested on the extents and durations of growth for a range of low carbon technologies in scenarios generated by the MESSAGE energy system model which has been widely used by the IPCC. The key finding is that low carbon technology growth in the scenarios appears generally conservative relative to what has been evidenced historically. This is counterintuitive given the extremely rapid growth rates of certain low carbon technologies under tight carbon constraints. Reasons for the apparent scenario conservatism are explored. Parametric conservatism in the underlying energy system model seems the most likely explanation.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in its series Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers with number 32.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp32

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    1. Gritsevskyi, Andrii & Nakicenovi, Nebojsa, 2000. "Modeling uncertainty of induced technological change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(13), pages 907-921, November.
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    7. Clarke, Leon & Weyant, John & Edmonds, Jae, 2008. "On the sources of technological change: What do the models assume," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 409-424, March.
    8. van Vuuren, Detlef P. & Hoogwijk, Monique & Barker, Terry & Riahi, Keywan & Boeters, Stefan & Chateau, Jean & Scrieciu, Serban & van Vliet, Jasper & Masui, Toshihiko & Blok, Kornelis & Blomen, Eliane , 2009. "Comparison of top-down and bottom-up estimates of sectoral and regional greenhouse gas emission reduction potentials," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5125-5139, December.
    9. Shilpa Rao, Ilkka Keppo and Keywan Riahi, 2006. "Importance of Technological Change and Spillovers in Long-Term Climate Policy," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I), pages 123-140.
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