NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Mixed-ownership models spur utility investment in microgrids
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How the wind industry can continue its boom into the 2020s
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Rhode Island targets a common perspective on DER values
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Way To Grow EVs
  • QUICK NEWS, April 25: Private Sector Takes Over The Climate Fight; How Sea Level Rise Would Change The Map; Wind Jobs Top 100,000 As Wind Energy Booms
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Risk Of Natural Gas Vs. The Risk Of Wind
  • QUICK NEWS, April 24: The Health Impacts Of Climate Change; New Energy Is Everywhere; Study Shows LA Does Not Need Aliso Canyon
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: How To Win Friends For New Energy
  • Weekend Video: The Electric Vehicle Highway
  • Weekend Video: Wind And The Economy
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A Deeper Look At The Heat
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Wind Gets Market Tough
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-UK Gets Utility-Led Solar Plus Storage
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Germany’s VW Talking Its EV To China
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, April 20:

  • TTTA Thursday-U.S. Military Affirms Climate Change-War Link
  • TTTA Thursday-Solar Plus Hydro Drive Wholesale Power Cost Sub-Zero
  • TTTA Thursday-Wind Boom Goes On Growing Midwest Wealth
  • TTTA Thursday-More Kentucky Jobs In New Energy Than In Coal
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, April 27:

  • Inside The White House Fight On Climate
  • New Energy Is The Jobs Engine
  • Wind Industry Boom Getting Bigger
  • Funding Better Transportation

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION

    Moving to a Low Carbon Economy: The Financial Impact of the Low-Carbon Transition

    October 2014 (Climate Policy Initiative)

    Executive Summary

    A major concern regarding a transition to a low-carbon economy is the impact that it could have on the global financial system. Would the scale of investment required consume financial resources and crowd out investments elsewhere in the economy? Would the impact that the transition would have on the value of existing investments — that is, the assets it would strand — reduce the capacity of investors and governments to invest?

    This paper assesses the impact of a potential transition, looking not just at the investment required and the impact of a transition on the value of existing assets, but also looking more broadly at other factors that could affect the financial capacity of the global financial system, including operating expenses, risk, and the lifespan of investments. A savings in operating costs, for instance, could provide investors additional cash that could then be invested back into the economy. Lower risk frees up reserves and enables investment in further growth. And longer asset life means that investments need not be replaced as often, freeing cash for investment that would otherwise be needed for asset replacement.

    When all of these factors are taken together, we find that transitioning to a low-carbon electricity system could actually increase the capacity of the global financial system by as much as $1.8 trillion between 2015 and 2035. Transitioning from oil to low-carbon transport could also result in a positive impact on the financial system over the same period, with an estimated impact ranging from a negative impact of $2.5 trillion to a net benefit of $3.5 trillion, depending on policy choices. Increasing the capacity of the system to invest creates opportunities for growth and lower costs that could reverberate across the economy.

    These overall benefit estimates capture the following dynamics in a move from business-as-usual to a 2-degree pathway.

    Electricity (Figure 1)

    • Low-carbon energy infrastructure is less expensive to operate, primarily because of avoided operating costs associated with extracting and transporting coal and gas. We estimate that operating savings would be significant, totaling $4.6 trillion.

    • The global electricity industry (including fuel extraction, generation, and transmission and distribution) would see more capital investment under a low-carbon pathway, because low-carbon energy tends to be more capital-intensive than fossil fuel energy. Low-carbon investments tend to have slightly longer lives, somewhat offsetting the higher investment levels. Taken together we estimate that total depreciation and amortization (D&A) (the amount of the investment capital actually used up over a given time frame) would increase by $1.1 trillion between 2015 and 2035 — the net impact of a $2.8 trillion increase in low-carbon capital (D&A) and a $1.7 trillion decrease in fossil fuel D&A.

    • Financing costs, which reflect both the level of investment and the riskiness of those investments, would increase by $0.6 trillion. Many low-carbon electricity investments carry lower inherent risk than some of the fossil fuel investments they replace and would particularly see lower costs of capital if the institutional and financial systems are fine-tuned to low-carbon investments rather than fossil fuel investments. However, total financing costs would still increase because of the larger quantity of capital investment under the 2-degree pathway. Globally, existing fossil fuel assets that would otherwise be employed in electricity generation (including coal, oil, gas and power plants) would lose an estimated $1.1 trillion in value during the low-carbon transition.

    • The net impact of transition is an increase in available investment capacity of $1.8 trillion.

    Transport (Figure 2)

    • Operating expenses would decrease by $2.8 trillion.

    • Total depreciation and amortization of capital would increase by $3 trillion between 2015 and 2035 — the net impact of a $6 trillion increase in investment in low-carbon vehicles and mass transit and a $3 trillion decrease in investment in fossil fuel transport (including the extraction, refining, and movement of oil for transport, as well as investment in fossil fuel powertrain vehicles).

    • Financing costs would increase by $0.5 trillion. The impact of the low-carbon transition on the value of existing assets would depend on the policy pathways chosen. We estimate that the impact could range from a $1.8 trillion net loss in asset value to a $4.2 trillion net benefit.

    • The net impact of the transition ranges from a $2.5 trillion reduction to a $3.5 trillion increase in capacity, depending on policy impact on asset values.

    Decisions by policymakers, regulators, and institutional and other investors have a major influence on the financial impact of the low-carbon transition. Our analysis suggests the following priorities to maximize the financial benefit of the low-carbon transition:

    Power

    • In developed countries, create and expand financing vehicles that can efficiently channel low-cost institutional investment into low-carbon energy infrastructure.

    • In both developed and developing countries, consider restructuring the electricity industry, market design, and regulation to clarify the infrastructure characteristics of the low-carbon assets and appropriately allocate risks between investors, consumers and governments.

    • More broadly, policy measures such as pricing carbon, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, and supporting the development of new low-carbon technologies also change the risk/reward equation in a positive direction for low-carbon infrastructure.

    Transport

    • To reduce the use of oil in transport, focus on policies that reduce demand for oil, rather than policies that restrict supply. A combination of taxes and innovation appears to be the most promising policy approach…

    Conclusions and policy implications

    Policymakers at all levels should consider the full financial picture when evaluating the potential gains or losses from transitioning to a low-carbon system. We find that in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable electricity, the savings from avoided fossil fuel investment and operating costs would more than offset the increased capital investment and stranded assets, leading to a net financial benefit of up to $1.8 trillion from 2015-2035. For the transition from oil to low-carbon transport, the net impact will depend on policy choices that affect asset stranding. Policy choices that reduce demand for oil with a combination of taxes and innovation could lead to a financial benefit of over $3 trillion for the low-carbon transition in transport. Both of these figures would grow significantly if health and environmental benefits of reducing emissions were taken into account.

    Decisions by policymakers, regulators, and institutional and other investors (discussed in Box 3) have a major influence on the financial impact of the low-carbon transition. In both cases, given the scale of investment needed, reducing the cost of capital is critical.

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