Short Term Electric Production Technology Switching Under Carbon Cap and Trade
This study examines fuel switching in electricity production following the introduction of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) for greenhouse gas emissions. A short-run restricted cost equation is estimated with carbon permits, high-carbon fuels, and low carbon fuels as variable inputs. Shadow values and substitution elasticities for carbon-free energy resources from nuclear, hydroelectric and renewable sources are imputed from the cost equation. The empirical analysis examines 12 European countries using monthly data on fuel use, prices, and electricity generation during the first phase of the European Emissions Trading System. Despite low emission permit prices, this study finds statistically significant substitution between fossil fuels and carbon free sources of energy for electric power production. Significant substitution between fossil fuels and nuclear energy also was found. Still, while 18 of the 20 substitution elasticities are statistically significant, they are all less than unity, consistent with limited substitution. Overall, these results suggest that prices for carbon emission permits relative to prices for carbon and carbon free sources of energy do matter but that electric power producers have limited operational flexibility in the short-run to satisfy greenhouse gas emission limits.
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