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Can the US keep the PACE? A natural experiment in accelerating the growth of solar electricity

Journal paper
Nadia Ameli, Mauro Pisu, Daniel M. Kammen
Applied Energy 191 (2017) 163–169

Abstract

Growing global awareness of climate change has ushered in a new era demanding policy, financial and behavioural innovations to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. Dramatic price decreases in solar photovoltaics (PV) and public policy have underwritten the expansion of solar power, now accounting for the largest share of renewable energy in California and rising fast in other countries, such as Germany and Italy. Governments’ efforts to expand solar generation base and integrate it into municipal, regional, and national energy systems, have spawned several programs that require rigorous policy evaluations to assess their effectiveness, costs and contribution to Paris Agreement’s goals. In this study, we exploit a natural experiment in northern California to test the capacity of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to promote PV investment. PACE has been highly cost effective by more than doubling residential PV installations.

Keywords:

  • policy evaluation
  • solar PV
  • PACE
  • regression discontinuity
  • residential solar energy

What Impedes Household Investment in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy?

Journal paper
Ameli N., N. Brandt
International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, 2015, 8: 1–39

Abstract

Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies provide important opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, households fail to take up many clean energy investments that are cost-effective. This article reviews different explanations for apparent underinvestment in energy efficiency that have been put forward in the literature. While investments in renewable energy technologies are typically not (yet) profitable, many of its drivers are similar to those that determine energy efficiency investments, and the two types of investment are therefore assessed jointly. The article also provides new evidence regarding barriers to investment in energy efficiency based on the OECD Survey on Household Environmental Behaviour and Attitudes. Finally, policy solutions that would help overcome some of these barriers are also presented.

Keywords:

  • energy efficiency gap
  • market failures
  • behavioural failures

Determinants of households' investment in energy efficiency and renewables - Evidence from the OECD survey on household environmental behaviour and attitudes

Journal paper
Ameli N., N. Brandt
Environmental Research Letters 10 (2015) 044015

Abstract

This paper provides novel evidence on the main factors behind consumer choices regarding investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies using the OECD Survey on Household Environmental Behaviour and Attitudes. The empirical analysis is based on the estimation of binary logit regression models. Empirical results suggest that households’ propensity to invest in clean energy technologies depends mainly on home ownership, income, social context and household energy conservation practices. Indeed, home owners and high-income households are more likely to invest than renters and low-income households. In addition, environmental attitudes and beliefs, as manifest in energy conservation practices or membership in an environmental non-governmental organisation, also play a relevant role in technology adoption.

 

Keywords:

  • technology adoption
  • energy efficiency
  • consumer behavior
  • discrete choice

Innovations in Financing that Drive Cost Parity for Long-term Energy Sustainability: An Assessment of Italy, Europe’s Fastest Growing Solar Energy Market

Journal paper
Ameli N., D. M. Kammen
Energy for Sustainable Development Volume 19 (2014), Pages 130–137

Abstract

Subsidy programs, such as feed-in tariffs, designed to make renewable technologies cost competitive with fossil fuels in electricity generation, have been effective in a number of nations. However, these subsidies can become very costly and they raise questions whether there are fair conditions for competition for different energy sources. As a result even effective programs face an uncertain future, changes in political support following the financial crises in Europe and the United States have demonstrated. In the case of solar photovoltaic energy, cost declines resulting from market-expansion schemes and the overall reductions in the price of photovoltaic cells have been significant particularly over the past decade. Yet, they have still left solar power up to 50% more expensive than conventional options. As an alternative in this paper we describe a financing tool based on a pollution abatement methodology. In developing this levelized cost of electricity framework we build a methodology to examine, and then utilize, the social costs and impacts of energy generation technologies. We find that as a means to bridge the cost gap between current conventional energy process and retail solar energy, a program based on a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan program would, in the short-term, be an effective tool to accelerate grid parity between solar and conventional energy generation and in the long-term provides a theoretically and financially sound alternative to subsidy-based incentives.

 

Keywords:

  • grid parity
  • levelized cost of energy (LCOE)
  • financing schemes
  • solar photovoltaics

Clean Energy Deployment: Addressing Financing Cost

Journal paper
Ameli N., D. M. Kammen
Environmental Research Letters 7 (2012) 034008

Abstract

New methods are needed to accelerate clean energy policy adoption. To that end, this study proposes an innovative financing scheme for renewable and energy efficiency deployment. Financing barriers represent a notable obstacle for energy improvements and this is particularly the case for low income households. Implementing a policy such as PACE—property assessed clean energy—allows for the provision of upfront funds for residential property owners to install electric and thermal solar systems and make energy efficiency improvements to their buildings. This paper will inform the design of better policies tailored to the creation of the appropriate conditions for such investments to occur, especially in those countries where most of the population belongs to the low–middle income range facing financial constraints.

 

Keywords:

  • financing barriers
  • energy efficiency
  • solar photovoltaic
  • energy investments

Optimization Building Management

Journal paper
Ameli N., G. Gregori
Journal of Energy and Power Engineering 6 (2012), 391-396

Abstract

This paper demonstrates how achieving optimal integration between design and energy resources management can be particularly attractive in terms of energy consumption saving (cooling and heating) and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The building automation system is based on innovative middleware framework which simplifies the modeling of a software for intelligent management of buildings and allows a multistandard and multiprotocol integration of sensors and actuators. The project has the target of underlining the economical opportunities and perspectives concerning the smart system adoption. Estimating the effects of home automation is essential to help its implementation, especially now that energy cost represents a consistent part of the house/building consumptions and will increase in the next few years. The results of the framework application in a residential building proves the validity of the proposed solution.

 

Keywords:

  • building automation
  • smart system