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Decreasing substitutability between clean and dirty energy


  • Anthony Wiskich


A review of the literature indicates a decreasing long-run elasticity of substitution between clean and dirty inputs as the share of clean inputs rises. In the power sector, which is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, integrating intermittent clean energy supply becomes increasingly difficult as the clean share rises. This paper describes a simple structural model of electricity generation which: demonstrates how the elasticity falls as the clean share rises; can replicate the range of results from the electricity literature; considers the effects of storage, and; facilitates estimation of a suitable production function. A bimodal production function with two elasticity regimes - an elasticity above 8 up to a 50 to 70 per cent clean share and an elasticity below 3 beyond this share – can replicate results well from the structural model.

Suggested Citation

  • Anthony Wiskich, 2019. "Decreasing substitutability between clean and dirty energy," CAMA Working Papers 2019-72, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:camaaa:2019-72

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    Cited by:

    1. Fabian Stöckl & Alexander Zerrahn, 2023. "Substituting Clean for Dirty Energy: A Bottom-Up Analysis," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(3), pages 819-863.

    More about this item


    Elasticity of substitution; climate change; energy; electricity; production function;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources

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