Energy

Judson Boomhower, Lucas Davis, 01 February 2017

Electricity prices can vary dramatically within a single day. However, most analyses of energy efficiency programmes ignore this variation, focusing on total energy savings without regard to when those savings occur. This column uses hourly smart-meter data to demonstrates a surprisingly large variation in economic value across energy efficiency investments. Air conditioner investments, for example, deliver savings when the value of electricity is high, increasing their value by about 50%.

Rabah Arezki, Rick van der Ploeg, Frederik Toscani, 15 December 2016

Global natural wealth has shifted from North to South over the past decades, with discoveries of major oil and gas fields and mineral deposits first in Latin America and more recently in Sub-Saharan Africa. This column argues that a more outward market orientation on the part of developing countries has been the key driving force behind this shift – over and above other forces such as the increase in emerging markets’ demand and/or developed countries running out of natural resources.

Koichiro Ito, Mar Reguant, 06 November 2016

In deregulated electricity markets, producers and consumers participate in auctions in forward and spot markets (‘sequential markets’) which determine the allocation of electricity production. This column asks whether financial traders should be allowed to participate in electricity markets to arbitrage a price difference between forward and spot markets. Creating a sequential market is likely to improve market efficiency and consumer welfare, and arbitrage by financial traders is likely to benefit consumers by lowering electricity prices, but from a social planner's point of view, arbitrage does not necessarily improve market efficiency.

Larry Levin, Matthew S. Lewis, Frank Wolak, 13 October 2016

A consensus that the demand for gasoline is price inelastic means that policymakers have opted to disregard price instruments when addressing gasoline consumption and climate change. This column analyses daily citywide data on gasoline prices and consumption to show that demand for gasoline is in fact substantially more elastic than previously thought. This is a major argument in favour of the effectiveness of price-based mechanisms in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, Min Zhu, 03 September 2016

Amid a persistent fall in oil prices, many oil-exporting countries are realising that economic diversification should be a top priority. One important pathway is to create a dynamic export sector. This column argues the standard policy of structural reforms – which mostly tackle ‘government failures’ rather than ‘market failures’ – are not sufficient. The state needs to intervene to change the incentive structure of firms and workers, and impose a strict accountability framework.

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