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Authors: Gillenwater, Michael Wayne
Advisors: Oppenheimer, Michael
Contributors: Public and International Affairs Department
Keywords: Additionality
emisison offsets
environmental commodities
Green power
Renewable Energy Certificate
wind power
Subjects: Public policy
Climate change
Alternative energy
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In the United States, electricity consumers are told that they can "buy" electricity from renewable energy projects, versus fossil fuel-fired facilities, through participation in a voluntary green power program. The marketing messages communicate to consumers that their participation and premium payments for a green label will cause additional renewable energy generation and thereby allow them to claim they consume electricity that is absent pollution as well as reduce pollutant emissions. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and wind energy are the basis for the majority of the voluntary green power market in the United States. This dissertation addresses the question: Do project developers respond to the voluntary REC market in the United States by altering their decisions to invest in wind turbines? This question is investigated by modeling and probabilistically quantifying the effect of the voluntary REC market on a representative wind power investor in the United States using data from formal expert elicitations of active participants in the industry. It is further explored by comparing the distribution of a sample of wind power projects supplying the voluntary green power market in the United States against an economic viability model that incorporates geographic factors. This dissertation contributes the first quantitative analysis of the effect of the voluntary REC market on project investment. It is found that 1) RECs should be not treated as equivalent to emission offset credits, 2) there is no clearly credible role for voluntary market RECs in emissions trading markets without dramatic restructuring of one or both markets and the environmental commodities they trade, and 3) the use of RECs in entity-level GHG emissions accounting (i.e., "carbon footprinting") leads to double counting of emissions and therefore is not justified. The impotence of the voluntary REC market was, at least in part, due to the small magnitude of the REC price signal and lack of long-term contracts that would reduce the risk of relying on revenue the voluntary green power market. Although no simple solutions are identified, a proposal for integrating RECs into a load based cap-and-trade system is presented.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Public and International Affairs

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