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Demand Subsidies Versus R&D: Comparing the Uncertain Impacts of Policy on a Pre-commercial Low-carbon Energy Technology

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  • Gregory F. Nemet
  • Erin Baker

Abstract

We combine an expert elicitation and a bottom-up manufacturing cost model to compare the effects of R&D and demand subsidies. We model their effects on the future costs of a low-carbon energy technology that is not currently commercially available, purely organic photovoltaics (PV). We find that: (1) successful R&D enables PV to achieve a cost target of 4c/kWh, (2) the cost of PV does not reach the target when only subsidies, and not R&D, are implemented, and (3) production-related effects on technological advanceÑlearning-by-doing and economies of scaleÑare not as critical to the long-term potential for cost reduction in organic PV than is the investment in and success of R&D. These results are insensitive to two levels of policy intensity, the level of a carbon price, the availability of storage technology, and uncertainty in the main parameters used in the model. However, a case can still be made for subsidies: comparisons of stochastic dominance show that subsidies provide a hedge against failure in the R&D program.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory F. Nemet & Erin Baker, 2009. "Demand Subsidies Versus R&D: Comparing the Uncertain Impacts of Policy on a Pre-commercial Low-carbon Energy Technology," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 49-80.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2009v30-04-a02
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Elena Claire Ricci & Valentina Bosetti & Erin Baker, 2014. "From Expert Elicitations to Integrated Assessment: Future Prospects of Carbon Capture Technologies," Working Papers 2014.44, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    2. Stokes, Leah C., 2013. "The politics of renewable energy policies: The case of feed-in tariffs in Ontario, Canada," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 490-500.
    3. Verdolini, Elena & Anadon, Laura Diaz & Lu, Jiaqi & Nemet, Gregory F., 2015. "The effects of expert selection, elicitation design, and R&D assumptions on experts' estimates of the future costs of photovoltaics," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 233-243.
    4. Nemet, Gregory F., 2009. "Interim monitoring of cost dynamics for publicly supported energy technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 825-835, March.
    5. Laleman, Ruben & Albrecht, Johan, 2014. "Comparing push and pull measures for PV and wind in Europe," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 33-37.
    6. Santen, Nidhi R. & Anadon, Laura Diaz, 2016. "Balancing solar PV deployment and RD&D: A comprehensive framework for managing innovation uncertainty in electricity technology investment planning," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 560-569.
    7. Gregory F. Nemet and Adam R. Brandt, 2012. "Willingness to Pay for a Climate Backstop: Liquid Fuel Producers and Direct CO2 Air Capture," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
    8. Zou, Hongyang & Du, Huibin & Ren, Jingzheng & Sovacool, Benjamin K. & Zhang, Yongjie & Mao, Guozhu, 2017. "Market dynamics, innovation, and transition in China's solar photovoltaic (PV) industry: A critical review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 197-206.
    9. Albrecht, Johan & Laleman, Ruben & Vulsteke, Elien, 2015. "Balancing demand-pull and supply-push measures to support renewable electricity in Europe," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 267-277.
    10. Shrimali, Gireesh & Rohra, Sunali, 2012. "India’s solar mission: A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(8), pages 6317-6332.
    11. repec:eee:rensus:v:81:y:2018:i:p1:p:1019-1029 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Nemet, Gregory F. & Baker, Erin & Jenni, Karen E., 2013. "Modeling the future costs of carbon capture using experts' elicited probabilities under policy scenarios," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 218-228.
    13. Clas-Otto Wene, 2016. "Future energy system development depends on past learning opportunities," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(1), pages 16-32, January.
    14. Jeon, Chanwoong & Lee, Jeongjin & Shin, Juneseuk, 2015. "Optimal subsidy estimation method using system dynamics and the real option model: Photovoltaic technology case," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 33-43.
    15. Hills, Jeremy M. & Michalena, Evanthie, 2017. "Renewable energy pioneers are threatened by EU policy reform," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 26-36.
    16. repec:eee:enepol:v:114:y:2018:i:c:p:578-590 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Zhou, Ying & Wang, Lizhi & McCalley, James D., 2011. "Designing effective and efficient incentive policies for renewable energy in generation expansion planning," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 2201-2209, June.
    18. Sierzchula, William & Bakker, Sjoerd & Maat, Kees & van Wee, Bert, 2014. "The influence of financial incentives and other socio-economic factors on electric vehicle adoption," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 183-194.
    19. repec:eee:energy:v:148:y:2018:i:c:p:662-675 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. repec:eee:enepol:v:116:y:2018:i:c:p:193-197 is not listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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