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Cost-benefit analysis of various California renewable portfolio standard targets: Is a 33% RPS optimal?

Omid M. Rouhani, Debbie Niemeier, H. Oliver Gao and Germà Bel ()

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2016, vol. 62, issue C, 1122-1132

Abstract: Renewable portfolio standards (RPSs׳) require a certain fraction of the electricity generated for a given region be produced from renewable resources. California׳s RPS mandates that by 2020, 33% of the electricity sold in the state must be generated from renewables. Such mandates have important implications for the electricity sector as well as for the whole society. In this paper, we estimate the costs and benefits of varying 2020 California RPS targets on electricity prices, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, criteria pollutant emissions, the electricity generation mix, the labor market, renewable investment decisions, and social welfare. We have extended the RPS Calculator model, developed by Energy and Environmental Economics (E3) Inc., to account for distributions of fuel and generation costs, to incorporate demand functions, and to estimate the effects of RPS targets on GHG emissions, criteria pollutant emissions, and employment. The results of our modeling provide the following policy insights: (1) the average 2020 electricity price increases as the RPS target rises, with values ranging between $0.152 and $0.175/kWh (2008 dollars) for the 20% RPS to 50% RPS, respectively; (2) the 33% and 50% RPS targets decrease the GHG emissions by about 17.6 and 35.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) relative to the 20% RPS; (3) the GHG emission reduction costs of the RPS options are high ($71–$94 per ton) relative to results from policy options other than RPS or prices that are common in the carbon markets; and (4) a lower target (e.g., a 27% RPS) provides higher social welfare than the 33% RPS (mandate) under low and moderate CO2 social costs (lower than $35/ton); while a higher RPS target (e.g., 50%) is more beneficial when using high CO2 social costs or rapid renewable technology diffusion. However, under all studied scenarios, the mandated 33% RPS for California would not provide the best cost/benefit values among the possible targets and would not maximize the net social benefit objective.

Keywords: Renewable portfolio standard; Benefit/cost-analysis; Social welfare; GHG emissions; Electricity generation; Sustainable energy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:62:y:2016:i:c:p:1122-1132