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"Twin Peaks" in Energy Prices: A Hotelling Model with Pollution Learning

  • Chakravorty, Ujjayant

    ()

    (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)

  • Leach, Andrew

    ()

    (University of Alberta, School of Business)

  • Moreaux, Michel

    (Laboratory of Natural Resource Economics, Toulouse School of Economics)

We study how environmental regulation in the form of a cap on aggregate emissions from a fossil fuel (e.g., coal) affects the arrival of a clean substitute (e.g., solar energy). The cost of the substitute decreases with cumulative use because of learning-by-doing. We show that energy prices may initially increase but then decline upon attaining the targeted level of pollution, followed by another cycle of rising and falling prices. The surprising result is that with pollution and learning, the Hotelling model predicts the cyclical behavior of energy prices in the long run. The alternating trends in upward or downward price movements we show may at least partially explain recent empirical findings by Lee, List and Strazicich (2006) that long run resource prices are stationary around deterministic trends with structural breaks in intercept and trend slope. The main implication of our results is that testing for secular price trends as predicted by the textbook Hotelling model may lead to incorrect conclusions regarding the predictive power of the theory of nonrenewable resource economics.

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Paper provided by University of Alberta, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2009-10.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: 01 Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ris:albaec:2009_010
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  1. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Mathai, Koshy, 2000. "Optimal CO2 Abatement in the Presence of Induced Technological Change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-38, January.
  2. Bramoulle, Yann & Olson, Lars J., 2005. "Allocation of pollution abatement under learning by doing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1935-1960, September.
  3. CHAKRAVORTY Ujjayant & MOREAUX Michel & TIDBALL Mabel, 2006. "Ordering the Extraction of Polluting Nonrenewable Resources," LERNA Working Papers 06.19.212, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
  4. Popp, David, 2006. "ENTICE-BR: The effects of backstop technology R&D on climate policy models," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 188-222, March.
  5. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Magne, Bertrand & Moreaux, Michel, 2006. "A Hotelling model with a ceiling on the stock of pollution," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 2875-2904, December.
  6. Salant, Stephen & Eswaran, Mukesh & Lewis, Tracy, 1983. "The length of optimal extraction programs when depletion affects extraction costs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 364-374, December.
  7. John Livernois, 2009. "On the Empirical Significance of the Hotelling Rule," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(1), pages 22-41, Winter.
  8. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Roumasset, James & Tse, Kinping, 1997. "Endogenous Substitution among Energy Resources and Global Warming," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1201-34, December.
  9. Junsoo Lee & John A. List & Mark Strazicich, 2005. "Nonrenewable Resource Prices: Deterministic or Stochastic Trends?," NBER Working Papers 11487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. McDonald, Alan & Schrattenholzer, Leo, 2001. "Learning rates for energy technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 255-261, March.
  11. Gerlagh, Reyer & van der Zwaan, Bob, 2003. "Gross world product and consumption in a global warming model with endogenous technological change," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 35-57, February.
  12. Argote, L. & Epple, D., 1990. "Learning Curves In Manufacturing," GSIA Working Papers 89-90-02, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
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