Forecasts in a Low Carbon World:
Erin T. Mansur
Chapter 3, A. Jorge Padilla and Richard Schmalensee, ed. Harnessing Renewable Energy.
Working Paper, November 2009.
This chapter examines how concerns
for climate—coupled with policy-makers’ and voters’ other preferences—are
expected to affect the growth of renewables, particularly in the United States
and the European Union. The chapter begins with a review of the recent growth
in renewables and a discussion of current carbon policies. Then I review
predictions of levels of investment in renewables in a low carbon world. Within
the next twenty years, some authors predict that 20 to 40 percent of
electricity will come from renewable resources, in an attempt to mitigate the
impacts of climate change. Given the wide range of assumptions regarding carbon
policies, economic growth, the responsiveness of the economy to carbon policy,
innovation in renewables, and other modeling approaches, it is hard to
generalize among these “black box” models. The complexity and continuous
updating of these models makes a detailed peer review process necessary though
beyond the scope of this paper.