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Energy Policy and Economic Growth. Richard S.J. Tol University of Sussex, Brighton Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin. The Need for Action. Great Recession High unemployment Climate change High energy prices

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energy policy and economic growth

Energy Policy and Economic Growth

Richard S.J. Tol

University of Sussex, Brighton

Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin

the need for action
The Need for Action
  • Great Recession
  • High unemployment
  • Climate change
  • High energy prices
  • Finite sources of conventional energy
  • Let’s use the energy revolution to create new opportunities for growth and jobs
green growth
Green Growth
  • In Europe, as in other mature economies, energy is a small sector
  • Small sectors can grow fast, but they cannot drive economy-wide growth
  • Energy is either a necessary good (heating) or an input (transport fuel, electricity), so you want to keep volume and price down
  • No growth from dearer energy
  • The energy revolution is within the sector, replacing once source for another – growth and shrink at the same time and same scale
green growth 2
Green Growth -2
  • But what about Denmark?
  • Rapid growth in a small subsector can mean rapid growth of the overall economy in a small region
  • Denmark benefitted greatly from price supports elsewhere in Europe
  • This was wealth transfer, not creation
  • Competition in alternative energy is fierce, success rates small and margins thin
  • Denmark built on old strengths
green growth 3
Green Growth -3
  • There is substantial government support for alternative energy
  • Infant industry experience shows that this is likely to create companies that excel at lobbying for more support
  • Government support is fickle, unlikely to be effective in energy with its long lead times
  • Government support is often about picking winners / rewarding supporters – governments have a long tradition in backing the wrong horse
green jobs
Green Jobs
  • Much the same is true for employment, but more so as the energy sector is labour-extensive
  • The debate is distorted by accounting errors
    • Jobs are created in alternative energy
    • Jobs are destroyed in conventional energy
    • Dearer energy destroys jobs
irish energy policy
Irish energy policy
  • The best thing Ireland can do, therefore, is to keep its energy prices low
  • Competition is key, but poor in Ireland
  • Wholesale gas is a recent example
  • The gas interconnector is state-owned and price-regulated
  • Its regulations stipulate that it must recover its annual costs
  • Price is annual cost over annual flow
irish energy policy1
Irish energy policy
  • Price is annual cost over annual flow
  • This is a perfectly sensible rule for (part of) a monopolist
  • It is perfect for competitors too: You price just below the interconnector, gain market share, the interconnector raises its price, you raise your price too, gain more market share …
  • Price regulation for gas interconnector solved the problem of that day
irish energy policy2
Irish energy policy
  • Price regulation will need to be changed by Pat Rabbitte, who
    • is a member of the dominant coalition in the legislative
    • is the pre-dominant actor in the executive
    • appoints and control the budget of the regulator
    • is the trustee for the Irish citizens in their ownership of
      • the dominant player in the gas market
      • the gas interconnector