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The Economics of Renewable Energy

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  • Geoffrey Heal

Abstract

Greater use of renewable energy is seen as a key component of any move to combat climate change, and is being aggressively promoted as such by the new U.S. administration and by other governments. Yet there is little economic analysis of renewable energy. This paper surveys what is written and adds to it. The conclusion is that the main renewables face a major problem because of their intermittency (the wind doesn't always blow nor the sun always shine) and that this has not been adequately factored into discussions of their potential. Without new storage technologies that can overcome this intermittency, much of the decarbonization of the economy will have to come from nuclear, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and energy efficiency (geothermal and biofuels can make small contributions). Nuclear and CCS are not without their problems. New energy storage technologies could greatly increase the role of renewables, but none are currently in sight.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15081.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15081.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Publication status: published as Geoffrey Heal, 2010. "Reflections--The Economics of Renewable Energy in the United States," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Oxford University Press for Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(1), pages 139-154, Winter.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15081

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  1. Parry, Ian & Small, Kenneth, 2002. "Does Britain or the United States Have the Right Gasoline Tax?," Discussion Papers dp-02-12-, Resources For the Future.
  2. Ian Parry, 2001. "Are Gasoline Taxes in Britain Too High?," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 44(4), pages 67-81, July.
  3. Daiju Narita, 2009. "Economic Optimality of CCS Use: A Resource-Economic Model," Kiel Working Papers 1508, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  4. Robert Hahn & Caroline Cecot, 2009. "The benefits and costs of ethanol: an evaluation of the government’s analysis," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 275-295, June.
  5. Michael Hoel, 2009. "Bush Meets Hotelling: Effects of Improved Renewable Energy Technology on Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Working Papers 2009.1, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
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Cited by:
  1. Apergis, Nicholas & Payne, James E. & Menyah, Kojo & Wolde-Rufael, Yemane, 2010. "On the causal dynamics between emissions, nuclear energy, renewable energy, and economic growth," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2255-2260, September.
  2. Gorkemli Kazar & Arthur Kazar, 2014. "The Renewable Energy Production-Economic Development Nexus," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 4(2), pages 312-319.

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