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Do high electricity bills undermine public support for renewables? Evidence from the European Union

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  • Aklin, Michaël

Abstract

The clean energy transition has long been framed in terms of its technological and economic feasibility. An increasingly salient constraint lies in its political feasibility. The transition requires vigorous public support to be completed. Yet increased consumer costs associated with the deployment of renewable electricity could make voters - and, by extension, governments - less supportive of it. As a result, overly aggressive government support for renewables could lead to its own downfall. To examine this threat, I document two stylized facts. First, the expansion of renewable electricity capacity has been followed by an increase in household electricity bills, and this has mostly happened because of energy-specific taxes. An increase of renewable electricity capacity by one within-country standard deviation raises a typical household's bill by €5.7 per MWh (95% CI: [3, 8.3]), most of which comes from an increase in non-VAT taxes (+€3.8/MWh [2.6; 5.1]). Second, these taxes have hurt popular support for aggressive renewable energy policy. An increase of non-VAT taxes by one standard deviation increases the share of people who find renewable energy too ambitious by 0.7 percentage points (95% CI: [0.1; 1.3]). Climbing costs could therefore undermine further political support toward renewable electricity deployment and threaten its contribution to greenhouse gas reductions.

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  • Aklin, Michaël, 2021. "Do high electricity bills undermine public support for renewables? Evidence from the European Union," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 156(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:156:y:2021:i:c:s0301421521002706
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2021.112400
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    2. Prokhorov, Oleksandr & Dreisbach, Dina, 2022. "The impact of renewables on the incidents of negative prices in the energy spot markets," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 167(C).
    3. Hastings-Simon, Sara & Leach, Andrew & Shaffer, Blake & Weis, Tim, 2022. "Alberta's Renewable Electricity Program: Design, results, and lessons learned," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 171(C).

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