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Carbon Capture Retrofits and the Cost of Regulatory Uncertainty

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  • Peter S. Reinelt
  • David W. Keith

Abstract

Power generation firms confront impending replacement of an aging coal-fired fleet in a business environment characterized by volatile natural gas prices and uncertain carbon regulation. We develop a stochastic dynamic programming model of firm investment decisions that minimizes the expected present value of future power generation costs under uncertain natural gas and carbon prices. We explore the implications of regulatory uncertainty on generation technology choice and the optimal timing of investment, and assess the implications of these choices for regulators. We find that interaction of regulatory uncertainty with irreversible investment always raises the social cost of carbon abatement. Further, the social cost of regulatory uncertainty is strongly dependent on the relative competitiveness of IGCC plants, for which the cost of later carbon capture retrofits is comparatively small, and on the firmÕs ability to use investments in natural gas generation as a transitional strategy to manage carbon regulation uncertainty. Without highly competitive IGCC or low gas prices, regulatory uncertainty can increase the expected social cost of reducing emissions by 40 to 60%.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter S. Reinelt & David W. Keith, 2007. "Carbon Capture Retrofits and the Cost of Regulatory Uncertainty," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 101-128.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2007v28-04-a05
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    Cited by:

    1. Klaus Rennings & Peter Markewitz & Stefan Vögele, 2013. "How clean is clean? Incremental versus radical technological change in coal-fired power plants," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 331-355, April.
    2. repec:eee:transe:v:113:y:2018:i:c:p:75-93 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fuss, Sabine & Szolgayova, Jana & Obersteiner, Michael & Gusti, Mykola, 2008. "Investment under market and climate policy uncertainty," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 85(8), pages 708-721, August.
    4. Valentina Bosetti & David G. Victor, 2011. "Politics and Economics of Second-Best Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: The Importance of Regulatory Credibility," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 1-24.
    5. Pahle, Michael & Fan, Lin & Schill, Wolf-Peter, 2011. "How Emission Certificate Allocations Distort Fossil Investments: The German Example," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 1975-1987.
    6. Wilson, Nathan E., 2012. "Uncertain regulatory timing and market dynamics," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 102-115.
    7. Shahnazari, Mahdi & McHugh, Adam & Maybee, Bryan & Whale, Jonathan, 2014. "Evaluation of power investment decisions under uncertain carbon policy: A case study for converting coal fired steam turbine to combined cycle gas turbine plants in Australia," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 271-279.
    8. Reuter, Wolf Heinrich & Szolgayová, Jana & Fuss, Sabine & Obersteiner, Michael, 2012. "Renewable energy investment: Policy and market impacts," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 249-254.
    9. repec:eee:enepol:v:108:y:2017:i:c:p:322-329 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Dane A. Schiro & Benjamin F. Hobbs & Jong-Shi Pang, 2016. "Perfectly competitive capacity expansion games with risk-averse participants," Computational Optimization and Applications, Springer, vol. 65(2), pages 511-539, November.
    11. Ruester, Sophia & Neumann, Anne, 2008. "The prospects for liquefied natural gas development in the US," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 3150-3158, August.
    12. Szolgayova, Jana & Fuss, Sabine & Obersteiner, Michael, 2008. "Assessing the effects of CO2 price caps on electricity investments--A real options analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 3974-3981, October.
    13. Szolgayová, Jana & Golub, Alexander & Fuss, Sabine, 2014. "Innovation and risk-averse firms: Options on carbon allowances as a hedging tool," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 227-235.
    14. repec:eee:resene:v:49:y:2017:i:c:p:33-47 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Fan, Lin & Hobbs, Benjamin F. & Norman, Catherine S., 2010. "Risk aversion and CO2 regulatory uncertainty in power generation investment: Policy and modeling implications," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 193-208, November.
    16. Fuss, Sabine & Johansson, Daniel J.A. & Szolgayova, Jana & Obersteiner, Michael, 2009. "Impact of climate policy uncertainty on the adoption of electricity generating technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 733-743, February.
    17. Mojica, Jose L. & Petersen, Damon & Hansen, Brigham & Powell, Kody M. & Hedengren, John D., 2017. "Optimal combined long-term facility design and short-term operational strategy for CHP capacity investments," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 97-115.
    18. ShahNazari, Mahdi & McHugh, Adam & Maybee, Bryan & Whale, Jonathan, 2014. "The effect of political cycles on power investment decisions: Expectations over the repeal and reinstatement of carbon policy mechanisms in Australia," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 157-165.
    19. Gregory F. Nemet & Peter Braden & Ed Cubero & Bickey Rimal, 2014. "Four decades of multiyear targets in energy policy: aspirations or credible commitments?," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(5), pages 522-533, September.
    20. Fuss, Sabine & Szolgayová, Jana & Khabarov, Nikolay & Obersteiner, Michael, 2012. "Renewables and climate change mitigation: Irreversible energy investment under uncertainty and portfolio effects," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 59-68.
    21. Barradale, Merrill Jones, 2014. "Investment under uncertain climate policy: A practitioners׳ perspective on carbon risk," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 520-535.
    22. George A. Gonzalez, 2016. "Transforming Energy: Solving Climate Change with Technology Policy . New York : Cambridge University Press . 360 pages. ISBN 9781107614970, $29.99 paperback. Anthony Patt , 2015 ," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 33(1), pages 111-113, January.
    23. Knoope, M.M.J. & Ramírez, A. & Faaij, A.P.C., 2015. "The influence of uncertainty in the development of a CO2 infrastructure network," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 332-347.

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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