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Do Fossil fuel Taxes Promote Innovation in Renewable Electricity Generation?

Author

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  • Lazkano, Itziar

    () (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

  • Pham, Linh

    () (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Abstract

We evaluate the role of a fossil fuel tax and research subsidy in directing innovation from fossil fuel toward renewable energy technologies in the electricity sector. Using a global firm-level electricity patent database from 1978 to 2011, we find that the impact of fossil fuel taxes on renewable energy innovation varies with the type of fossil fuel. Specifically, a tax on coal reduces innovation in both fossil fuel and renewable energy technologies while a tax on natural gas has no statistically significant impact on renewable energy innovation. The reason is that easily dispatchable energy sources like coal-fired power plants need to complement renewable energy Technologies in the grid because renewables generate electricity intermittently. Our results suggest that a tax on natural gas, combined with research subsidies for renewable energy, may effectively shift innovation in the electricity sector towards renewable energy. In contrast, coal taxation or a carbon tax that increases coal prices has unintended negative consequences for renewable energy innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Lazkano, Itziar & Pham, Linh, 2016. "Do Fossil fuel Taxes Promote Innovation in Renewable Electricity Generation?," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 16/2016, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhheco:2016_016
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    File URL: https://brage.bibsys.no/xmlui/handle/11250/2423519
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    Cited by:

    1. Lazkano, Itziar & Nøstbakken, Linda & Pelli, Martino, 2017. "From fossil fuels to renewables: The role of electricity storage," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 113-129.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Electricity; Energy taxes; Renewable; coal; natural gas technologies;

    JEL classification:

    • L90 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - General
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General

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