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California Dreaming: The Economics of Renewable Energy

Gerrit van Kooten

No 2016-05, Working Papers from University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group

Abstract: California was the first jurisdiction to mandate a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. This target was subsequently endorsed by the G8 in 2009 and the European Commission in 2014, and is the guiding principle of the 2015 Paris Agreement. To achieve these targets will require near elimination of fossil fuels and/or a technological breakthrough that might be considered a black swan event. Eschewing nuclear power, countries are relying on renewable energy sources to meet future energy needs. In this paper, I examine the prospects of reducing GHG emissions by 80% by first summarizing extant global energy sources and production, trends and projections of energy demand, and the potential mix of future energy sources. I consider the role of conservation and then focus on the electricity sector to determine how wind and biomass could contribute to the 80% target. I conclude that these ambitious targets cannot be attained without nuclear power.

Keywords: Climate change; intermittent energy; biofuels; nuclear power; fossil fuels (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H41 L51 L94 Q42 Q48 Q54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 31 pages
Date: 2016-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene, nep-env and nep-reg
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