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Can technology-specific deployment policies be cost-effective? The case of renewable energy support schemes

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  • Lehmann, Paul
  • Söderholm, Patrik

Abstract

While there is relatively limited disagreement on the general need for supporting the deployment of renewable energy sources for electricity generation (RES-E), there are diverging views on whether the granted support levels should be technology-neutral or technology-specific. In this paper we question the frequently stressed argument that technology-neutral schemes will promote RES-E deployment cost-effectively. A simple partial equilibrium model of the electricity sector with one representative investor is developed to illustrate how the cost-effective support levels to different RES-E technologies will be influenced when selected market failures are introduced. We address market failures associated with technological development, long-term risk taking, path dependencies as well as various external costs, all of which drive a wedge between the private and the social costs of RES-E deployment. Based on these analytical findings and a review of empirical literature, we conclude that the relevance of these market failures is typically heterogeneous across different RES-E technologies. The paper ends by discussing a number of possible caveats to implementing cost-effective technology-specific support schemes in practice, including the role of various information and political economy constraints. While these considerations involve important challenges, neither of them suggests an unambiguous plea for technology-neutral RES support policies either.

Suggested Citation

  • Lehmann, Paul & Söderholm, Patrik, 2016. "Can technology-specific deployment policies be cost-effective? The case of renewable energy support schemes," UFZ Discussion Papers 1/2016, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ufzdps:12016
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/126160/1/846335336.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Aalbers, Rob & Shestalova, Victoria & Kocsis, Viktória, 2013. "Innovation policy for directing technical change in the power sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1240-1250.
    2. Strunz, Sebastian & Gawel, Erik & Lehmann, Paul, 2016. "The political economy of renewable energy policies in Germany and the EU," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 33-41.
    3. Tafarte, Philip & Das, Subhashree & Eichhorn, Marcus & Thrän, Daniela, 2014. "Small adaptations, big impacts: Options for an optimized mix of variable renewable energy sources," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 80-92.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    technology deployment; renewable energy sources; support schemes; cost-effectiveness;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources

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