School of Public Policy Working Papers

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 70
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    Understanding Attitudes toward Energy Security: Results of a Cross-National Survey
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2013-01) Knox-Hayes, Janelle ; Brown, Marilyn A. ; Sovacool, Benjamin K. ; Wang, Yu
    Energy security is embedded in a complex system encompassing factors that constitute the social environment in which individuals are immersed. Everything from education, to access to resources to policy and cultural values of particular places affects perceptions and experiences of energy security. This article examines the types of energy security challenges that nations face and characterizes the policy responses that are often used to address these challenges. Drawing from a survey of energy consumers in ten countries, we conduct a cross-national comparison of energy security attitudes and analyze each country’s corresponding energy resources, consumption characteristics and energy policies. Through multivariate regression analysis and case studies we find that socio-demographic and regional characteristics affect attitudes towards energy security. Specifically, a strong relationship exists between level of reliance on oil imports and level of concern for a variety of energy security characteristics including availability, affordability and equity. Our results also reaffirm the importance of gender and age in shaping perceptions of security. Level of development, reliance on oil and strong energy efficiency policies also affect individuals’ sense of energy security. In sum, we find that energy security is a highly context-dependent condition that is best understood from a nuanced and multi-dimensional perspective.
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    Making Buildings Part of the Climate Solution with Flexible Innovative Financing
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012-12) Deitchman, Benjamin ; Brown, Marilyn A. ; Wang, Yu
    Lack of attractive financing remains one of the most significant barriers to energy-efficiency improvements in commercial buildings. This paper examines a flexible financing policy that would support state and local initiatives via loan loss reserves, tax lien financing, revolving loans, performance contracts, and on-bill programs. We examine the impact of different levels of subsidy covering different numbers of technologies, ultimately selecting a 10% subsidy for 64 qualifying technologies. This policy would save almost half a quad of energy in 2020 and 1.04 quads in 2035, producing net social benefits of $105 billion and a benefit/cost ratio of 1.9. Technologies with significant growth in market share include advanced fluorescents and variable-air-volume ventilation systems. Case studies of other technologies illustrate the advantage of optimizing financial assistance to reflect product maturity and cost-competiveness. A 10% subsidy would produce an estimated ten-fold increase in the amount spent on highefficiency equipment in 2035, and the $3.9 billion subsidy in that year would have only an 11% rate of free ridership.
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    Making Buildings Part of the Climate Solution by Overcoming Information Gaps through Benchmarking
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012-09) Cox, Matthew ; Brown, Marilyn A. ; Sun, Xiaojing
    This paper focuses on the impact of benchmarking the energy performance of U.S. commercial buildings by requiring utilities to submit energy data to a uniform database accessible to building owners and tenants. Understanding how a commercial building uses energy has many benefits; in particular, it helps building owners and tenants focus on poor-performing buildings and subsystems, and enables high-performing buildings to participate in various certification programs that can lead to higher occupancy rates, rents, and property values. Through analysis chiefly utilizing the Georgia Tech version of the National Energy Modeling System (GT-NEMS), updating input discount rates and the impact of benchmarking shows a reduction in energy consumption of 5.6% in 2035 relative to the Reference case projection of the Annual Energy Outlook 2011. It is estimated that the benefits of a national benchmarking policy would outweigh the costs, both to the private sector and society broadly. However, its geographical impact would vary substantially, with the South Atlantic and New England regions benefiting the most. By reducing the discount rates used to evaluate energy-efficiency investments, benchmarking would increase the purchase of energy-efficient equipment thereby reducing energy bills, CO2 emissions, and conventional air pollution.
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    Making Buildings Part of the Climate Solution by Enforcing Aggressive Commercial Building Codes
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012-09) Sun, Xiaojing ; Brown, Marilyn A. ; Jackson, Roderick ; Cox, Matthew
    This paper examines the impact of an aggressive commercial building codes policy in the United States. The policy would require both new construction and existing buildings that undergo major modifications to comply with higher building shell efficiency and more stringent equipment standards similar to the latest versions of the ASHRAE 90.1 Standard. Using the Georgia Tech version of the National Energy Modeling System (GT-NEMS), we estimate that the building codes policy could reduce the energy consumption of commercial buildings by 0.94 Quads in 2035, equal to 4% of the projected energy consumption of commercial buildings in that year. In the four targeted end-uses – space heating and cooling, water heating and lighting – estimated energy consumption would be 17%, 15%, 20% and 5% less than the Reference case forecast in 2035, respectively. The reduction of electricity and natural gas prices along with the consumption decline could save commercial consumers $12.8 billion in energy bills in 2035 and a cumulative $110 billion of bill savings between 2012 and 2035. The environmental benefits of the policy could also be significant. In 2035, 47 MMT of CO2 emissions could be avoided, generating cumulative benefits of $17 billion by 2035. The estimated benefit-cost ratio of this policy within the commercial sector is 1.4, with a resulting net benefit of $59 billion. The positive spillover effect of this policy would lead to an even higher economy-wide benefit-cost ratio.
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    Smart-Grid Policies: An International Review
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012-08) Brown, Marilyn A. ; Zhou, Shan
    The electric power systems of many industrialized nations are challenged by the need to accommodate distributed renewable generation, increasing demands of a digital society, growing threats to infrastructure security, and concerns over global climate disruption. The “smart grid” – with a two-way flow of electricity and information between utilities and consumers – can help address these challenges, but various financial, regulatory, and technical obstacles hinder its rapid deployment. An overview of experiences with smart-grids policies in pioneering countries shows that many governments have designed interventions to overcome these barriers and to facilitate grid modernization. Smart-grid policies include a new generation of regulations and finance models such as regulatory targets, requirements for data security and privacy, renewable energy credits, and various interconnection tariffs and utility subsidies
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    Making Buildings Part of the Climate Solution by Pricing Carbon Efficiently
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012-07) Brown, Marilyn A. ; Cox, Matthew ; Sun, Xiaojing
    This report examines the impact of instituting an economy-wide tax on CO₂ emissions in the United States, focusing especially on the changes such a tax would have on the energy and carbon profile of the commercial buildings sector. In terms of energy intensity, a carbon tax is estimated to deliver faster and deeper reductions in the commercial sector than in the rest of the economy. Still, its 6.3% energy intensity improvement falls short of the Better Buildings goal of a 20% increase in the energy efficiency of commercial buildings by 2020. On the other hand, the carbon tax scenario nearly meets the Waxman-Markey and Copenhagen economy-wide carbon reduction goals for 2020, due partly to a more carbon-lean power sector. The effects of carbon taxes on commercial buildings would be technologically transformational and geographically widespread. While energy expenditures would rise and more capital would be required for energy-efficiency upgrades, the avoided pollution and the reduced CO₂ emissions would generate significant human health and ecosystem benefits. To be successful, a broad community of constituents would need to accept the temporal mismatch between immediate costs and long-term benefits.
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    Evaluating the Risks of Alternative Energy Policies: A Case Study of Industrial Energy
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012-01) Brown, Marilyn A. ; Baer, Paul ; Cox, Matthew ; Kim, Yeong Jae
    Numerous studies have shown the potential for U.S. manufacturing to cut its energy costs by installing more efficient equipment that offer competitive payback periods, but the realization of this potential is hindered by numerous obstacles. This paper evaluates seven federal policy options aimed at revitalizing U.S. manufacturing by improving its energy economics while also achieving environmental and energy reliability goals. Traditionally, policy analysts have examined the cost-effectiveness of energy policies using deterministic assumptions. When risk factors are introduced, they are typically examined using sensitivity analysis to focused on alternative assumptions about budgets, policy design, energy prices, and other such variables. In this paper we also explicitly model the stochastic nature of several key risk factors including future energy prices, damages from climate change, and the cost of criteria pollutants. Using these two approaches, each policy is “stress tested” to evaluate the likely range of private and social returns on investment. Overall we conclude that the societal cost-effectiveness of policies is generally more sensitive to alternative assumptions about damages from criteria pollutants and climate change compared with energy prices; however, risks also vary across policies based partly on the technologies they target.
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    Reviving Manufacturing with a Federal Cogeneration Policy
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2011-10) Brown, Marilyn A. ; Cox, Matthew ; Baer, Paul
    Improving the energy economics of manufacturing is essential to revitalizing the industrial base of advanced economies. This paper evaluates a federal policy option aimed at promoting industrial cogeneration – the production of heat and electricity in a single energy-efficient process. Detailed analysis using the National Energy Modeling System and spreadsheet calculations suggest that industrial cogeneration could meet 18% of U.S. electricity requirements by 2035, compared with its current 8.9% market share. Substituting less efficient utility-scale power plants with cogeneration systems would produce numerous economic and environmental benefits, but would also create an assortment of losers as well as winners. Multiple perspectives to benefit/cost analysis are therefore valuable. Our results indicate that the federal cogeneration policy would be highly favorable to manufacturers and the public sector, cutting energy bills, generating billions of dollars in electricity sales, making producers more competitive, and reducing pollution. Traditional utilities, on the other hand, would likely lose revenues. From a public policy perspective, deadweight losses would be introduced by market-distorting federal incentives (ranging annually from $30 to $150 million), but these losses are much smaller than the estimated net social benefits of the federal cogeneration policy.
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    Myths and Facts about Clean Electricity in the U.S. South
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2011-09) Brown, Marilyn A. ; Gumerman, Etan ; Sun, Xiaojing ; Kim, Gyungwon ; Sercy, Kenneth
    This paper identifies six myths about clean electricity in the southern U.S. These myths are either propagated by the public at-large, shared within the environmental advocacy culture, or spread imperceptibly between policymakers. Using a widely accepted energy-economic modeling tool, we expose these myths as half-truths and the kind of conventional wisdom that constrains productive debate. In so doing, we identify new starting points for energy policy development. Climate change activists may be surprised to learn that it will take more than a national Renewable Electricity Standard or supportive energy efficiency policies to retire coal plants. Low-cost fossil generation enthusiasts may be surprised to learn that clean generation can save consumers money, even while meeting most demand growth over the next 20 years. This work surfaces the myths concealed in public perceptions and illustrates the positions of various stakeholders in this large U.S. Region.
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    Energy Security Dimensions and Trends in Industrialized Countries
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2011-06) Brown, Marilyn A. ; Sovacool, Benjamin K. ; Wang, Yu ; D‘Agostino, Anthony Louis
    This article represents one of the first scholarly efforts to correlate actual energy policy and practice with expert views of the multidimensional concept of energy security. Based on the energy security performance of 22 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development between 1970 and 2007, it concludes that many industrialized countries have been unable to make progress toward the goal of achieving secure, reliable and affordable supplies of energy while also transitioning to a low-carbon energy system. However, some national best practices exist, which are identified by examining the relative performance of four countries: the United Kingdom and Belgium (both with noteworthy improvements), and Sweden and France (which have experienced notable slippage in relative performance). The article concludes by offering implications for energy policy more broadly and by providing empirical evidence that our four dimensions of energy security (availability, affordability, energy efficiency, and environmental stewardship) envelop the key strategic dimensions of energy security.