Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Transitioning to a clean energy future: Essays on policies for renewables, transportation, and energy efficiency
by Cook, Jonathan A., Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2013, 127; 3614186
Abstract (Summary)

The emergence of climate change as one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century has placed the task of reducing GHG emissions at the forefront of city, state and national government agendas around the world. Strategies for transitioning to a clean energy future almost universally involve increasing the share of electricity generated from renewable sources, reducing emissions from the transportation sector and improving energy efficiency. This dissertation contains three essays that address policy questions within each of these areas (renewables, efficiency and transportation), focusing both on past experiences thus far as well as considerations for future policies. The first chapter examines the Danish wind power industry and the role of government policies in shaping the decisions of wind turbine owners. A structural dynamic model is constructed in which owners decide whether and when to add new turbines to a pre-existing stock, scrap an existing turbine, or replace old turbines with newer versions during a period of rapid technological improvement and several changes to government wind energy policies. Results from the model indicate that the growth and development of the Danish wind industry was primarily driven by government policies as opposed to technological improvements. The second chapter explores the spatial and distributional impacts of climate policies in the transportation sector. California VMT and fuel consumption distributions are not symmetric and can vary significantly within transit planning regions. Results show that analyzing a policy using mean VMT or fuel consumption and assuming a symmetric distribution would generally lead to errors of 20-40% when considering the costs of a climate policy for a “typical” household. The final chapter addresses the role of publicly-funded energy efficiency programs in electricity markets. In the absence of energy efficiency programs, individual households and businesses may underinvest in energy efficiency because of inefficient retail pricing, pollution and learning externalities, imperfect information and the prevalence of principal-agent problems. California's cap-and-trade program and likely transition to dynamic pricing will correct some of these market failures, but information problems and distributional concerns will remain and warrant programs that encourage additional investments in efficiency.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lin, C.-Y. Cynthia
Commitee: Sanchirico, James N., Smith, Aaron D.
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Agricultural and Resource Economics
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental economics, Economics, Energy
Keywords: Electricity, Energy efficiency, Environmental policy, Renewable energy policy, Transportation
Publication Number: 3614186
ISBN: 9781303791758
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