Impacts on U.S. Energy Expenditures and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions of Increasing Renewable-Energy Use: Technical Report

By Michael Toman; James Griffin et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Key Findings
In this chapter, we present the key findings that are derived from our analysis of the 25 percent renewable-energy requirements. In summary, we found the following:
Substantial variation exists in expenditure impacts across different sets of assumptions, especially in the motor-vehicle transportation–fuel market. Depending on the assumptions made, expenditure changes can be minimal or show a very substantial increase.
The government’s approach to implementation of the policy requirements—particularly with respect to motor-fuel pricing—has important effects on consumer behavior and expenditures. In particular, passing the cost of more expensive renewable fuels to final pump prices will also increase the direct impact on expenditure, but it will serve as well to generate improvements in energy efficiency. Subsidizing more expensive fuels will mitigate the direct impact on expenditure for consumers, but only by transferring the expenditure to the government budget.
Meeting the 25 percent requirements with relatively low expenditure impacts requires significant progress concurrently in several aspects of renewable-energy technologies. Biomass availability, in particular, is one of the factors that can have the greatest implications for consumer expenditure changes. Another important factor is the degree to which technical advances in wind power will make it possible to use lower-quality sites without a major increase in cost. DOE has set ambitious program goals for renewable technologies that, if achieved, would significantly moderate the expenditure impact of the 25 percent requirements. But if progress falls short of this set of goals, the requirements could be expensive. This is a real possibility, given not just the ambitiousness of the goals but also the general tendency for technology-development programs to have optimistic early stage cost estimates.
Lower levels of the requirements (15 or 20 percent) decrease expenditure changes more than proportionately, although they also result in lower CO2 emission reductions than do the 25 percent requirements.
Higher baseline energy prices reduce the relative cost of achieving the 25 percent requirements, though they also reduce the need for establishing these requirements as policy targets.
The 25 percent requirements can reduce CO2 emissions significantly, but the additional cost of energy supply per unit of reduced CO2 emissions can vary considerably. Unless there is very substantial cost-reducing technical innovation for expanding renewables, the incremental cost could be high relative to the incremental costs often encountered in current policy discussions for CO2 mitigation.

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Impacts on U.S. Energy Expenditures and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions of Increasing Renewable-Energy Use: Technical Report
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Tables ix
  • Summary xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Chapter One- Introduction 1
  • Chapter Two- How We Did the Analysis 5
  • Chapter Three- Key Findings 23
  • Chapter Four- Concluding Remarks 49
  • References 51
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