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Feed-in tariffs for promoting solar PV: progressing from dynamic to allocative efficiency

Author

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  • Bell, William
  • Foster, John

Abstract

The International Energy Association has observed that nearly all countries now offer or are planning feed-in tariffs (FiTs) for solar PV but debate has shifted from ‘if or how to implement a FiT’ to ‘how to move to a self-sustaining market post FiT’. The aim of this paper is to explain how a sustainable FiT can be designed for residential solar PV installations, focusing on the case of ‘solar rich’ Australia. Solar PV is approaching price parity at the retail level where the electricity price charged includes both transmission and distribution costs, in addition to the wholesale price. So the economic rationale for paying a FiT premium above market rates to achieve dynamic efficiency is no longer warranted. Socially, FiTs can be a problem because they tend to exacerbate social inequality by providing a transfer of wealth from poorer to richer households. Environmentally, FiTs can also fall short of their full potential to cut emissions if they lack ‘time of day’ price signals that reflect movements in the wholesale price. In this paper, we provide a framework in which a sustainable FiT can be designed that positively addresses all three areas of concern: social, environmental and economic. This framework identifies the market failures that exist in the residential solar PV electricity market, which include exacerbating inequity, poorly targeting myopic investment behaviour, inadequate transmission and distribution investment deferment price signals and inappropriate infant industry assistance. We argue that these market failures require addressing before the market can operate in an allocatively efficient manner. The sustainable FiT that we propose would lead to improvements in environmental, social and economic factors. The resultant transmission and distribution investment deferment would meet both environmental and economic objectives. Directly providing finance for solar PV installations would address both social equity and investment myopia. We argue that introducing appropriate pricing signals for solar PV installations via would be in the ongoing interest of all stakeholders. It is time to progress from FiTs focused on dynamics efficiency to a sustainable FiT that emphasises allocative efficiency as an explicit goal.

Suggested Citation

  • Bell, William & Foster, John, 2012. "Feed-in tariffs for promoting solar PV: progressing from dynamic to allocative efficiency," MPRA Paper 38861, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 28 Apr 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:38861
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. John Foster & Liam Wagner & Phil Wild & William Paul Bell & Junhua Zhao & Craig Froome, 2011. "Market and Economic Modelling of the Intelligent Grid: Interim Report 2011," Energy Economics and Management Group Working Papers 11, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    2. Tim Nelson & Paul Simshauser & Simon Kelley, 2011. "Australian Residential Solar Feed-in Tariffs: Industry Stimulus or Regressive Form of Taxation?," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 113-129, September.
    3. Nemet, Gregory F., 2006. "Beyond the learning curve: factors influencing cost reductions in photovoltaics," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(17), pages 3218-3232, November.
    4. Couture, Toby & Gagnon, Yves, 2010. "An analysis of feed-in tariff remuneration models: Implications for renewable energy investment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 955-965, February.
    5. Lesser, Jonathan A. & Su, Xuejuan, 2008. "Design of an economically efficient feed-in tariff structure for renewable energy development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 981-990, March.
    6. Phil Wild & William Paul Bell & John Foster, 2012. "The Impact of Carbon Pricing on Wholesale Electricity Prices, Carbon Pass-Through Rates and Retail Electricity Tariffs in Australia," Energy Economics and Management Group Working Papers 5-2012, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    7. Saunders, R.W. & Gross, R.J.K. & Wade, J., 2012. "Can premium tariffs for micro-generation and small scale renewable heat help the fuel poor, and if so, how? Case studies of innovative finance for community energy schemes in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 78-88.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bell, William Paul & Wild, Phillip & Foster, John, 2013. "The transformative effect of unscheduled generation by solar PV and wind generation on net electricity demand," MPRA Paper 46065, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Foster, John & Bell, William Paul & Wild, Phillip & Sharma, Deepak & Sandu, Suwin & Froome, Craig & Wagner, Liam & Misra, Suchi & Bagia, Ravindra, 2013. "Analysis of institutional adaptability to redress electricity infrastructure vulnerability due to climate change," MPRA Paper 47787, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Simpson, Genevieve & Clifton, Julian, 2016. "Subsidies for residential solar photovoltaic energy systems in Western Australia: Distributional, procedural and outcome justice," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 262-273.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Feed-in tariffs; FiT; solar PV; residential solar PV; reverse auction FiT; parity; Levelised cost of energy; LCOE; Diffusion of innovations; dynamic efficiency; allocative efficiency; Sustainable; Social progress; Environmental protection; Social inequity; DUOS; TUOS; smart meters;

    JEL classification:

    • R22 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Other Demand
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • R38 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Government Policy

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