Economic modelling and the constraints on green energy growth
As macro-level modelling has become a key tool in guiding climate policies, the manner of representing the green energy sector is ultimately of importance for the way we support it. In particular, the development of green energies happens in a context that can be uneasy for economists where multiple market failures exist. If the financing of the green energy sector is not properly accounted for, with the different obstacles that exist to it, there is a risk that policies adopted are suboptimal.
A strand of studies assume that the green energy sector can develop optimally with regard to essentially one variable, which is the carbon price, or the social cost of carbon (SCC). The exercise consists then in estimating the mapping from the carbon price set to the corresponding energy mix. Moreover, existing scenarios vary in assumptions regarding the technology evolution of the green energy producers, as well as that of the carbon dioxide removal sector.
However, the primary use of the SCC shouldn’t mask the fact that many other conditions need to be met. Some of these challenges are addressed in recent iterations of the EIRIN model, whereby the green energy sector is represented on its own, independently from its brown counterpart. This allows for considering the more specific financing needs and potential constraints that the sector faces, as well as its competitive interaction with traditional energy providers.
Uncertainty and risk are central aspects to address in the design of transition policies, as they can shift the optimal path to take for the economy, and they are especially pervasive in the financial market dynamics. Thus, a better integration of the green energy sector along this dimension can provide a more exhaustive views of conditions that have to be met to achieve a cleaner energy mix.
Finally, in practice, the ability of the green energy sector to scale up optimally depends on its ability to take advantage of policies in place and available funding mechanisms for green projects. There again the figure of the sustainable energy expert is key, to leverage on the understanding of financing constraints and green financial products, so as to minimize operational risk and devise the most efficient growth paths for green energy