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Option Value and the Diffusion of Energy Efficient Products


  • Erin Baker


In a widely cited series of papers, Hassett and Metcalf argue that the slow diffusion of energy saving technology may be due to a high option value to waiting. While the authors clarify that this is relevant for yes/no decisions (such as whether to add insulation to a home), this argument has been widely cited even in investment decisions that involve a choice over multiple appliances or vehicles. In this note we consider how uncertainty and irreversibility would impact a consumer’s decision about when to buy which new product. We show that, a priori, applying an option value framework is as likely to lead to slow diffusion of inefficient products as to slow diffusion of efficient products. This casts some doubt on the idea that an option value framework is the primary driver of the slow diffusion of energy efficient technologies.

Suggested Citation

  • Erin Baker, 2012. "Option Value and the Diffusion of Energy Efficient Products," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:ej33-4-03

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth Gillingham & Richard G. Newell & Karen Palmer, 2009. "Energy Efficiency Economics and Policy," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 597-620, September.
    2. Naughten, Barry, 2003. "Economic assessment of combined cycle gas turbines in Australia: Some effects of microeconomic reform and technological change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 225-245, February.
    3. Chronopoulos, Michail & De Reyck, Bert & Siddiqui, Afzal, 2011. "Optimal investment under operational flexibility, risk aversion, and uncertainty," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 213(1), pages 221-237, August.
    4. Ashley Langer & Nathan H. Miller, 2008. "Automobile Prices, Gasoline Prices, and Consumer Demand for Fuel Economy," EAG Discussions Papers 200811, Department of Justice, Antitrust Division.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kenneth Gillingham & Karen Palmer, 2014. "Bridging the Energy Efficiency Gap: Policy Insights from Economic Theory and Empirical Evidence," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 8(1), pages 18-38, January.
    2. Todd D. Gerarden & Richard G. Newell & Robert N. Stavins, 2017. "Assessing the Energy-Efficiency Gap," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1486-1525, December.
    3. Volland, Benjamin, 2017. "The role of risk and trust attitudes in explaining residential energy demand: Evidence from the United Kingdom," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 14-30.
    4. Qiu, Yueming & Colson, Gregory & Grebitus, Carola, 2014. "Risk preferences and purchase of energy-efficient technologies in the residential sector," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 216-229.

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General


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