ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF THE EXPANSION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY: THE EXPERIENCE AT THE COUNTY AND NATIONAL LEVEL
This dissertation examines the impact of the expansion of renewable technology at both national and local level, through distinct essays. At the national level, the first paper analyzes the effects of economic and distributional impacts of climate mitigation policy, in the context of a developing country, to understand the interactions between the energy system and the macroeconomic environment. In the case of the local level, the second paper uses synthetic control method, to estimate the effect at the county level of utility scale wind in the development indicators for two counties in the U.S.
The first paper assesses the economic and distributional impacts of Nicaragua’s commitments to limit future greenhouse gas emissions in the context of the Paris Agreement, known as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The analysis relies on two distinct models. The first is a top-down approach based on a single-country computable general equilibrium (CGE) model, known as the Mitigation, Adaptation and New Technologies Applied General Equilibrium (MANAGE) Model. The second is a bottom-up approach based on the Open-Source energy Modeling System (OSeMOSYS), which is technology rich energy model. The combined model is calibrated to an updated social accounting matrix for Nicaragua, which disaggregates households into 20 representative types: 10 rural and 10 urban households. For the household disaggregation we have used information from the 2014 Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) for Nicaragua. Our analysis focuses on the distributional impacts of meeting the NDCs as well as additional scenarios—in a dynamic framework as the MANAGE model is a (recursive) dynamic model. The results show that a carbon tax has greatest potential for reduction in emissions, with modest impact in macro variables. An expansion of the renewable sources in the electricity matrix also leads to significant reduction in emissions. Only a carbon tax achieves a reduction in emissions consistent with keeping global warming below 2°C. Nicaragua’s NDC alone would not achieve the target and mitigation instruments are needed. An expansion of generation from renewable sources, does not lead to a scenario consistent with a 2°C pathway.
The second paper measures the impact of wind generation on county level outcomes through the use of the Synthetic Control Method (SCM). SCM avoids the pitfalls of other methods such as input-output models and project level case studies that do not provide county level estimates. We find that the local per capita income effect of utility wind scale is 6 percent (translate into an increase of $1,511 in per capita income for 2019) for Benton County and 8 percent for White county in Indiana (an increase of $2,100 in per capita income for 2019). The per capita income effect measures the average impact, which includes the gains in rents from capital, land, and labor from wind power in these counties. Moreover, we find that most of the rents from wind power accrue to the owners of capital and labor. Even assuming the lowest projections of electricity prices and the highest reasonable cost we still find a 10 percent minimum rate of return to capital for both Benton and White counties’ wind power generators. Furthermore, we find that there are excess rents that could be taxed and redistributed at the county, state, or federal level without disincentivizing investment in wind power.