Category: economics

2050 Calculator

Posted by – 2012/06/12

Introducing the EnergyNumbers 2050 Pathways calculator

The DECC 2050 calculator is a good start at producing a toy model to give some ideas of the trade-offs, and approximate orders of magnitude of costs involved in converting Britain’s energy systems into a low-carbon system.

But it has its flaws.

So I’ve revised some of the model’s weakest parts, and re-released it. Here’s the EnergyNumbers 2050 Pathways calculator

A summary of the changes (most recent, first)

  • Added a new option to change the amount of fossil-fuels (coal, gas, oil) extracted in the UK. This option exists in the DECC spreadsheet, but wasn’t previously available in the web interface.
  • Added a whole new section with performance against national and international targets. In the top-left corner of every page, you’ll find indicators showing progress against targets. Click on them to read an explanation of each target, and how well the selected pathway performs against each.
  • Change nuclear level 1 to phaseout by 2020; bumped all the other levels up by one (so old level 1 is new level 2; old level 3 is new level 4), and updated all the “expert” pathways accordingly. Old level 4 wasn’t plausible, wasn’t used in any of the “expert” pathways, and so has been removed
  • Added estimated damage costs for greeenhouse gases: low £70/tCO2e; medium £100/tCO2e; high £200/tCO2e
  • Added estimates of nuclear liability costs: low 0p/kWh; medium 11p/kWh; high 100p/kWh
  • The choice of car and van techology, between fuel cells and electric batteries, is a category scale (A,B,C,D), not ascending order of difficulty (1-4)
  • Ensure coal capacity has a floor of zero
  • Selecting biomass plant will not drive up coal use
  • Updated nuclear build costs: high £4.548/Wp rising to £5.072/Wp; medium £3.50/Wp; low £2.478/Wp
  • Onshore wind, level 4 upgraded to hit 50GWp by 2020 and stay steady
  • Offshore wind fixed-foundation, level 4, from 2020 onwards, upgraded to 10GWp annual installation rate


Why the Green Economy?

Posted by – 2011/11/15

A while ago, the French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain invited me to write an article for their magazine’s (INFO) special edition on the Green Economy. Here’s the article, updated (Feb 2013) and with links added to further information

Why the Green Economy? Summary

Markets that exclude the impact on natural capital are distorted. Markets that exclude the costs of pollution are distorted. Markets that allow the Tragedy of the Commons are distorted. These distorted markets represent economic efficiency, and leave us all worse off.

The polluter-pays principle corrects the market distortion caused by unpriced pollution. Joint-stewardship agreements allow us to sustainably manage common resources, preventing the Tragedy of the Commons. Tracking changes to the value of our natural capital base is just as important as tracking transaction values: both represent changes to our wealth.

The Green Economy, in all those forms, is here because it fixes problems that have been accumulating for decades. Why the Green Economy? Because in the long run, the Green Economy leaves us better off, environmentally and economically.

Background to the Green Economy

The Green Economy is worth hundreds of billions of pounds (euro / dollars) each year; it spans many sectors including the most fundamental ones of energy, food and water supplies; and in the last fifty years, it’s gone from fringe to mainstream, growing in value and coverage each year. For example, in 2011, global investment in renewable energy was US$257bn; and there are electric cars on the market that can out-run a Porsche.

But the Green Economy has been around for quite some time, and its academic foundations, in the “polluter-pays principle” dates back to the early decades of the twentieth century. However, more recently, the problems have become global in scale, and the solutions have required international co-operation, for example in banning the industrial production of some of the worst ozone-depleting chemicals. The next wave of problems and solutions dwarfs what has gone before, requiring revolutionary changes to how we generate electricity, how we heat our homes and offices, how we power our transport systems, how we manage our livestock and fertilise our crops. The economic risks (and opportunities) are orders of magnitude greater than what has gone before.
Read more…