nep-ene New Economics Papers
on Energy Economics
Issue of 2009‒01‒10
sixteen papers chosen by
Roger Fouquet
Imperial College, UK

  1. The Perils of the Learning Model For Modeling Endogenous Technological Change By William D. Nordhaus
  2. Desert Power: The Economics of Solar Thermal Electricity for Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East By Kevin Ummel; David Wheeler
  3. Policies towards a more efficient car fleet By Mandell, Svante
  4. Oil Drilling and Automobile Fuel Economy: The Relative Impact on Oil Prices By Dean Baker; Matthew Sherman
  5. Oil Drilling in Environmentally Sensitive Areas: The Role of the Media By Mark Weisbrot; Nichole Szembrot
  6. Oil Prices and Venezuela's Economy By Mark Weisbrot; Rebecca Ray
  7. Through a Glass Darkly: Deciphering the Impact of Oil Price Shocks By Ashima Goyal
  9. The Distribution of Bolivia’s Most Important Natural Resources and the Autonomy Conflicts By Mark Weisbrot; Luis Sandoval
  10. Optimal Nuclear Waste Burial Policy under Uncertainty By Alain Ayong Le Kama; Mouez Fodha
  11. Global carbon markets: Are there opportunities for Sub-Saharan Africa? By Bryan, Elizabeth; Akpalu, Wisdom; Yesuf, Mahmud; Ringler, Claudia
  12. The future of global sugar markets: Policies, reforms, and impact By Bureau, Jean-Christophe; Gohin, Alexandre; Guindé, Loïc; Millet, Guy; Brandão, Antônio Salazar P.; Haley, Stephen; Wagner, Owen; Orden, David; Sandrey, Ron; Vink, Nick
  13. Anatomy of a crisis: The causes and consequences of surging food prices By Headey, Derek; Fan, Shenggen
  14. The Impacts of Ethanol on the US Catfish Farm Sector By Zheng, Hualu; Muhammad, Andrew; Herndon, C.W.
  15. Impact of Expanded United States Sugar Imports from CAFTA Countries on the Ethanol Market By Yeboah, Osei-Agyeman; Parker, S. Janine

  1. By: William D. Nordhaus (Dept. of Economics, Yale University)
    Abstract: Learning or experience curves are widely used to estimate cost functions in manufacturing modeling. They have recently been introduced in policy models of energy and global warming economics to make the process of technological change endogenous. It is not widely appreciated that this is a dangerous modeling strategy. The present note has three points. First, it shows that there is a fundamental statistical identification problem in trying to separate learning from exogenous technological change and that the estimated learning coefficient will generally be biased upwards. Second, we present two empirical tests that illustrate the potential bias in practice and show that learning parameters are not robust to alternative specifications. Finally, we show that an overestimate of the learning coefficient will provide incorrect estimates of the total marginal cost of output and will therefore bias optimization models to tilt toward technologies that are incorrectly specified as having high learning coefficients.
    Keywords: Learning by doing, Experience curves, Energy models, Technological change
    JEL: O3 O13 D83
    Date: 2009–01
  2. By: Kevin Ummel; David Wheeler
    Abstract: A climate crisis is inevitable unless developing countries limit carbon emissions from the power sector in the near future. This will happen only if the costs of lowcarbon power production become competitive with fossil fuel power. We focus on a leading candidate for investment: solar thermal or concentrating solar power (CSP), a commercially available technology that uses direct sunlight and mirrors to boil water and drive conventional steam turbines. Solar thermal power production in North Africa and the Middle East could provide enough power to Europe to meet the needs of 35 million people by 2020. We compute the subsidies needed to bring CSP to financial parity with fossil-fuel alternatives. We conclude that large-scale deployment of CSP is attainable with subsidy levels that are modest, given the planetary stakes. By the end of the program, unsubsidized CSP projects are likely to be competitive with coal- and gasbased power production in Europe. The question is not whether CSP is feasible but whether programs using CSP technology will be operational in time to prevent catastrophic climate change. For such programs to spur the clean energy revolution, efforts to arrange financing should begin right away, with site acquisition and construction to follow within a year.
    Keywords: Solar energy, Africa, climate change, energy technology
    Date: 2008–12
  3. By: Mandell, Svante (vti – Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute)
    Abstract: Transportation within the EU, as in most of the industrialized world, shows an increasing trend in CO2 emissions. This calls for measures both to decrease the amount of transportation and/or to increase the efficiency in the vehicle fleet. The present paper addresses the latter by providing a simple and transparent analytical model that illustrates how different policy measures address different parts of an interlinked system, which determines the composition of the future car fleet. Apart from being simple, and thereby providing an intuitive framework, the model highlights the difference between initial responses to policies and the outcome in equilibrium both in the short and the long run.
    Keywords: Vehicle; fuel-efficiency; policy; CO2
    JEL: Q48 Q54 R48
    Date: 2008–12–18
  4. By: Dean Baker; Matthew Sherman
    Abstract: This issue brief compares projected savings from drilling in presently restricted offshore zones, savings under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and the projected savings from the fuel efficiency schedule proposed by Senator Obama. The issue brief projects savings through 2027, the year in which offshore drilling would reach peak capacity.
    JEL: Q Q4 Q41 Q43 Q48 Q3 Q38
    Date: 2008–09
  5. By: Mark Weisbrot; Nichole Szembrot
    Abstract: This paper examines television news coverage of proposed drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive zones in the United States. It finds that these broadcasts almost completely ignored data, and conclusions, from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency (EIA). The EIA finds that the benefits from such drilling would be too small to have a significant effect on the price of oil. There is no legitimate reason for this omission in the media. Just as economic reporting regularly uses data (unemployment, inflation, GDP, trade) from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, or Bureau of Labor Statistics, reporting on energy relies on data from the EIA.
    JEL: Q Q4 Q41 Q43
    Date: 2008–09
  6. By: Mark Weisbrot; Rebecca Ray
    Abstract: This paper looks at Venezuela’s export revenue, imports, and trade and current account balances under a range of oil price outcomes for the next two years. It finds that Venezuela would run large current account surpluses for prices between $60-90 per barrel, and would even run a small surplus with prices at $50 per barrel. (Most oil industry estimates for the next two years are in the range of $80-90 per barrel). The authors conclude that Venezuela is unlikely to run into foreign exchange constraints in the foreseeable future, and can pursue expansionary fiscal policies to counter any economic downturn.
    Keywords: Venezuela, Venezuelan oil exports, Venezuelan government revenue
    JEL: E E6 E62 F F1 F14 O54 Q4 Q43 Q48
    Date: 2008–11
  7. By: Ashima Goyal
    Abstract: In order to examine if the impact of oil price shocks depends on the structure of an economy, a vertical (VSC) and a horizontal (HSC) long-run supply curve identification are successively imposed on a three variable VAR with Indian time series data. While core inflation is measured with the VSC, the HSC requires a new concept of demand-driven inflation: Residual (demand) inflation, which gives the impact of short and medium run demand shocks on inflation. Core and residual inflation are both estimated. The data favors the HSC, but both identifications imply that policy demand squeeze aggravated international oil price shocks.
    Keywords: VAR, identification strategies, developing economy, residual, output, labor surplus, oil price, economy, vertical, horizontal, VSC, HSC, supply curve, inflation, time series, data, demand, residual, India, Indian,
    Date: 2009
  8. By: Jovanovic, Boyan
    Abstract: Aside from the equilibrium that Hotelling (1931) displayed, his model of non-renewable resources also contains a continuum of bubble equilibria. In all the equilibria the price of the resource rises at the rate of interest. In a bubble equilibrium, however, the consumption of the resource peters out, and a positive fraction of the original stock continues to be traded forever. And that may well be happening in the market for high-end Bordeaux wines.
    Keywords: wine, exhaustible resource, bubble, Research Methods/ Statistical Methods, Resource /Energy Economics and Policy,
    Date: 2008–11
  9. By: Mark Weisbrot; Luis Sandoval
    Abstract: This paper shows that the Eastern lowland states of Bolivia that have recently held “autonomy” referenda also have the highest concentrations of land ownership, and receive disproportionate shares of natural gas revenues. These states also have a much smaller indigenous population than the rest of the country.
    Keywords: Bolivia
    JEL: O O5 O54 O1 Q Q3 Q34 Q38
    Date: 2008–07
  10. By: Alain Ayong Le Kama (EQUIPPE - Université de Lille I); Mouez Fodha (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris)
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to study the optimal nuclear waste burial policy under an uncertainty : the possibility that an accident might occur in the future. The framework is an optimal growth model with pollution disutility. We show, under some conditions on the waste burial policy, that nuclear power may be a long-term solution for the world energy demand. Under uncertainty on the future safety of the buried waste, the social planner will decide to decrease the rate of waste burying, but the evolution of consumption and hence the evolution of the level of buried waste, are ambiguous. Depending on some simple conditions on the balanced growth rate of the economy and on the preference parameters of the households, the optimal amount of buried waste may increase, even if there is a risk of accident in the future.
    Keywords: Nuclear waste, pollution, growth, uncertainty.
    Date: 2008–07
  11. By: Bryan, Elizabeth; Akpalu, Wisdom; Yesuf, Mahmud; Ringler, Claudia
    Abstract: "Global climate change poses great risks to poor people whose livelihoods depend directly on the use of natural resources. Mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change is a high priority on the international agenda. Carbon trading, under the Kyoto Protocol as well as outside the protocol, is growing rapidly from a small base and is expected to increase dramatically under present trends. However, developing countries, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa, remain marginalized in global carbon markets, with Africa's market share constituting less than 1 percent (excluding South Africa and North African countries). The potential for mitigation through agriculture in the African region is estimated at 17 percent of the global total, and the economic potential (i.e. considering carbon prices) is estimated at 10 percent of the total global mitigation potential. Similarly, Africa's forestry potential per year is 14 percent of the global total, and the avoided-deforestation potential accounts for 29 percent of the global total. Appropriate climate-change policies are needed to unleash this huge potential for pro-poor mitigation investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Such policies should focus on increasing the profitability of environmentally sustainable practices that generate income for small producers and create investment flows for rural communities. Pro-poor investments, community development, new research, and capacity building can all help integrate the agriculture, forestry, and land-use systems of developing countries into the carbon trading system, both generating income gains and advancing environmental security. Achieving this result will require effective integration, from the global governance of carbon trading to the sectoral and micro-level design of markets and contracts, as well as investment in community management. Streamlining the measurement and enforcement of offsets, financial flows, and carbon credits for investors is also needed. This review paper begins with an overview of global carbon markets, including opportunities for carbon trading, and the current involvement of developing countries, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. This is followed by an assessment of the mitigation potential and options involving agriculture, land use, and forestry. The major constraints to the participation of Sub-Saharan Africa in global carbon markets are discussed, and options for integrating the region into global carbon markets are proposed." from authors' abstract
    Keywords: Climate change, mitigation, carbon markets, Clean Development Mechanism,
    Date: 2008
  12. By: Bureau, Jean-Christophe; Gohin, Alexandre; Guindé, Loïc; Millet, Guy; Brandão, Antônio Salazar P.; Haley, Stephen; Wagner, Owen; Orden, David; Sandrey, Ron; Vink, Nick
    Abstract: "Sugar is one of the most highly protected agricultural commodities worldwide. This protection depresses trade opportunities and the prices received by exporters without preferential market access. For this reason, dialogues about sugar policy are often polarized and short sound bites caustic. Yet today's sugar markets are being driven by a complex array of dynamic and emerging supply, demand, and policy forces that need to be understood. A number of these forces have the potential to reshape the global market scene. Recent sugar policy reforms in the European Union (EU) have received little attention in North America but may turn the EU into a net importer, with substantial compensation paid to its farmers and displaced processing facilities. High oil prices and the related ethanol boom place Brazil at the fulcrum of new market developments. In the United States, corn sweetener and sugar markets are being integrated with Mexican markets under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), raising the question of whether the EU reforms provide a template for new policies. And among developing countries in Africa and elsewhere there are low-cost producers that would benefit from more open trade but others who would be disadvantaged by the loss of preferential markets. This discussion paper presents the proceedings of a one-day conference that served as a forum for the discussion of these and other critical issues affecting global sugar markets, policies, and reform options. The conference was attended by 60 representatives of governments, research institutions, producers and processors from the sugar sector, and other groups interested in sugar markets and policies. The four papers were presented by internationally recognized experts from the EU, Brazil, the United States, and South Africa. Discussion openers and general discussion at the conference added further policy insights, and the papers were edited and revised after the conference to reflect the dialogue that had occurred." from authors' abstract
    Keywords: sugar, Ethanol, NAFTA, WTO, Trade policy,
    Date: 2008
  13. By: Headey, Derek; Fan, Shenggen
    Abstract: "Although the potential causes and consequences of recent increases in international food prices have attracted widespread attention, many existing appraisals are superficial and/or piecemeal. This paper attempts to provide a more comprehensive review of these issues based on the best and most recent research, and includes fresh theoretical and empirical analysis. We first analyze the causes of the current crisis by considering how well standard explanations hold up against relevant economic theory and important stylized facts. Some explanations, especially rising oil prices, the depreciation of the US dollar, biofuel demand, and some commodity-specific explanations, hold up much better than some others. We then provide an appraisal of the likely macro- and microeconomic impacts of the crisis in developing countries. We observe a large gap in the effects of macro and micro factors, and note that when these factors are used to identify the most vulnerable countries, the results often point in different directions. We conclude with a brief discussion of what ought to be learned from this crisis." from authors' abstract
    Keywords: Food prices, global food crisis, oil prices, Biofuels, poverty impacts, macroeconomic impacts,
    Date: 2008
  14. By: Zheng, Hualu; Muhammad, Andrew; Herndon, C.W.
    Abstract: In this study, we estimated catfish feed and farm price reduced form equations. Of particular importance was the impact of the recent increase in grain prices induced by ethanol production on feed cost and farm prices. This relationship was examined using an autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) model. Results show that a 1% increase in corn prices caused a 0.134% and 0.263% increase in feed prices in the short- and long-run, respectively. Catfish farm prices increased by 0.106% (short-run) and 0.211% (long-run) given a 1% increase in feed prices. Between 2004 and 2008, corn prices increased from $2 to $6 per bushels. Taheripour and Tyner (2008) state that of the total increase, 25% was due to US ethanol subsidies and 75% was due to the increase in the price of crude oil. Given the $1 increase in corn prices (50%), this should result in a feed price increase of 13% and a farm price increase of 2.7% in the long-run. Park and Fortenbery (2007) found that for every percentage increase in ethanol production, corn prices increased by 0.16 % in the short run. From this we conclude that a 100% increase in ethanol production will cause catfish feed prices to increase by 4.21% in the long run, and catfish farm prices to increase by 0.89%.
    Keywords: catfish, price, catfish feed, ethanol, autoregressive distributed lag model, ARDL, Demand and Price Analysis, Research Methods/ Statistical Methods,
    Date: 2009
  15. By: Yeboah, Osei-Agyeman; Parker, S. Janine
    Abstract: The need to decrease the United States’ dependency on oil has pushed ethanol to the forefront of energy sources. In the U.S., corn is used to make ethanol. Corn-based ethanol production has been profitable over the past few years, but there has been a near doubling of corn prices in late 2006 and early 2007 (Outlaw, et. al., 2007). The trend is a constant rise in prices, which has given way to ethanol production by other sources of raw materials like sugarcane. Sugarcane ethanol is the most cost-efficient biofuel available anywhere in the world, and in the United States, the government supports sugar prices. Through the US sugar policy, sugar prices are controlled, and foreign imports are severely limited. Brazil is leading the way in sugarcane ethanol, and its neighbors in Central America are following suit. In 2006, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was established. The agreement allows sugar imports into the U.S. from these countries duty free. Those countries have extreme ethanol growth potential with low production costs and large sources of sugarcane. This paper uses GIS and statistical tools to determine the impact of the expanded U.S. sugar imports from CAFTA-DR countries on the U.S. ethanol market in terms of production and regional concentration. To estimate the relationship between ethanol production and sugar imports, an OLS regression model has been developed with monthly U.S. ethanol production as a function of imported sugarcane, gas, ethanol , and corn prices; covering January 2000 to September 2008.
    Keywords: Ethanol, Sugarcane, Sugar, CAFTA-DR, Alternative Fuels, Biofuels, International Relations/Trade,
    Date: 2009
  16. By: Awad Abdel Hameed, Amna; Mohamed Arshad, Fatimah
    Abstract: This paper investigate the long-term relationship between the petroleum and vegetable oils prices represented by palm, soybean, sunflower and rapeseed oils prices. To that end, the bivariate cointegration approach using Engle-Granger two-stage estimation procedure is applied. The study utilises monthly data over the period of January 1983 through March 2008. The results provide a strong evidence of long-run equilibrium relation between the two products prices. The estimates of the error correction models reveal a unidirectional long-run causality flowing from petroleum to each of the vegetable oils prices under study.
    Keywords: Vegetable oils prices, petroleum prices, cointegration, causality tests, Agribusiness, Demand and Price Analysis, Marketing, Q11 Agricultural Prices,
    Date: 2008–12–15

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