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Special Issue "Energy Policy and Sustainability"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2009)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Daniel A. Farber (Website)

Sho Sato Professor of Law, University of California at Berkeley, USA
Interests: uncertainty and environmental policy; U.S. climate policy; constitutional issues in environmental law; compensation for climate change; natural disasters and the legal system

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Renewable energy and energy conservation are crucial to sustainability and are on the forefront of the policy agenda. Yet, fundamental questions such as the following remain unanswered:

Innovation Policy.
Major technological innovations will be required to meet 2050 emissions goals. What mix of legal/policy instruments can best promote the necessary level of innovation?

Decision Making Under Uncertainty
. Infrastructure decisions (such as grid construction) involve uncertainty about future technologies – for example, about the mix of wind and solar power in twenty years. Uncertainty about downside risks of climate change relates to the desired level of emissions controls. How do we make policy in the face of these uncertainties?

International Spillovers.
We do not have a firm grasp on the international spillover effects of national climate policy, in the form of “leakage” or of indirect effects on land use. How large are these effects and how should they affect policy?

Energy Policy and the Non-Developed World.
Effective methods are needed to promote sustainable energy use in rapidly developing countries such as China. How can that goal be achieved? How can we ensure the availability of sustainable energy for the poorest nations. This symposium will focus on these and related unanswered fundamental questions.

Prof. Dr. Daniel A. Farber
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • energy technology innovation policy
  • carbon leakage
  • chinese energy policy
  • climate change uncertainties
  • energy justice
  • energy and development
  • indirect land use effects
  • biofuels
  • energy policy
  • energy efficiency
  • intellectual property and energy
  • energy R & D
  • energy technology transfer

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Public Values and Community Energy: Lessons from the US and UK
Sustainability 2013, 5(4), 1747-1763; doi:10.3390/su5041747
Received: 31 January 2013 / Revised: 8 April 2013 / Accepted: 16 April 2013 / Published: 23 April 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (528 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper examines some of the normative aspects of “community energy” programmes—defined here as decentralized forms of energy production and distributed energy technologies where production decisions are made as close as possible to sources of consumption. Such projects might also display a [...] Read more.
This paper examines some of the normative aspects of “community energy” programmes—defined here as decentralized forms of energy production and distributed energy technologies where production decisions are made as close as possible to sources of consumption. Such projects might also display a degree of separation from the formal political process. The development of a community energy system often generates a great deal of debate about both the degree of public support for such programmes and the values around which programmes ought to be organized. Community energy programmes also raise important issues regarding the energy choice problem, including questions of process, that is, by whom a project is developed and the influence of both community and exogenous actors, as well as certain outcome issues regarding the spatial and social distribution of energy. The case studies, drawn from community energy programmes in both the United States and the United Kingdom, allow for a careful examination of all of these factors, considering in particular the complex interplay and juxtaposition between the ideas of “public value” and “public values”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Policy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Renewable Energy Technology—Is It a Manufactured Technology or an Information Technology?
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2382-2402; doi:10.3390/su2082382
Received: 27 June 2010 / Accepted: 23 July 2010 / Published: 27 July 2010
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (292 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Socio-technical or strategic approach to renewable energy deployment all suggests that the uptake of renewable energy technology such as solar photovoltaic is as much a social issue as a technical issue. Among social issues, one most direct and immediate component is the [...] Read more.
Socio-technical or strategic approach to renewable energy deployment all suggests that the uptake of renewable energy technology such as solar photovoltaic is as much a social issue as a technical issue. Among social issues, one most direct and immediate component is the cost of the renewable energy technology. Because renewable electricity provides no new functionality—a clean electron does the same work as a dirty electron does—but is relatively expensive compared with fossil fuel based electricity, there is currently an under-supply of renewable electricity. Policy instruments based on economics approaches are therefore developed to encourage the production and consumption of renewable electricity, aiming to remediate the market inefficiencies that stem from the failure in internalizing the environmental or social costs of fossil fuels. In this vein, the most discussed instruments are renewable portfolio standard or quota based system and the general category of feed-in tariff. Feed-in tariff is to support output or generation of the renewable electricity by subsidizing revenues. The existing discussions have all concerned about the relative effectiveness of these two instruments in terms of cost, prices and implementation efficiency. This paper attempts a different basis of evaluation of these two instruments in terms of cost and (network) externality effects. The cost effect is driven by deploying the renewable as a manufactured technology, and the network externality effect is driven by deploying the renewable as an information technology. The deployment instruments are studied in terms of how these two effects are leveraged in the deployment process. Our formulation lends itself to evolutionary policy interpretation. Future research directions associated with this new energy policy framework is then suggested. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Policy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Energy Recovery from Wastewater Treatment Plants in the United States: A Case Study of the Energy-Water Nexus
Sustainability 2010, 2(4), 945-962; doi:10.3390/su2040945
Received: 1 February 2010 / Revised: 10 March 2010 / Accepted: 30 March 2010 / Published: 5 April 2010
Cited by 35 | PDF Full-text (614 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This manuscript uses data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to analyze the potential for energy recovery from wastewater treatment plants via anaerobic digestion with biogas utilization and biosolids incineration with electricity generation. These energy recovery strategies could help offset the electricity [...] Read more.
This manuscript uses data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to analyze the potential for energy recovery from wastewater treatment plants via anaerobic digestion with biogas utilization and biosolids incineration with electricity generation. These energy recovery strategies could help offset the electricity consumption of the wastewater sector and represent possible areas for sustainable energy policy implementation. We estimate that anaerobic digestion could save 628 to 4,940 million kWh annually in the United States. In Texas, anaerobic digestion could save 40.2 to 460 million kWh annually and biosolids incineration could save 51.9 to 1,030 million kWh annually. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Policy and Sustainability)
Figures

Open AccessArticle Assessing Sustainability Transition in the US Electrical Power System
Sustainability 2010, 2(2), 551-575; doi:10.3390/su2020551
Received: 7 January 2010 / Accepted: 9 February 2010 / Published: 12 February 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (304 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper examines sustainability transition dynamics in the US electricity system, drawing on the socio-technical systems approach. We view system change as unfolding along several critical dimensions and geographical scales, including dynamics in the environment, science, civil society, discourse, and state regulatory [...] Read more.
This paper examines sustainability transition dynamics in the US electricity system, drawing on the socio-technical systems approach. We view system change as unfolding along several critical dimensions and geographical scales, including dynamics in the environment, science, civil society, discourse, and state regulatory institutions, as well as in capital and technology formations. A particular emphasis is given to the interaction of discourses, policy networks, and institutions. We trace four distinct regimes which have characterized the evolution of this discourse-network-institutional nexus over the last century. The research examines dynamics that present a challenge to the incumbent energy regime based on fossil fuels, nuclear and hydropower, and demonstrates how the actor-network supporting renewables and energy efficiency has grown stronger and more capable of moving toward a sustainability transition than at any time since the sustainable energy movement began a generation ago. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Policy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Reducing Energy Subsidies in China, India and Russia: Dilemmas for Decision Makers
Sustainability 2010, 2(2), 475-493; doi:10.3390/su2020475
Received: 18 December 2009 / Accepted: 26 January 2010 / Published: 1 February 2010
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (215 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article examines and compares efforts to reduce energy subsidies in China, India and Russia. Despite dissimilarities in forms of governance, these three states have followed surprisingly similar patterns in reducing energy subsidies, characterised by two steps forward, one step back. Non-democratic [...] Read more.
This article examines and compares efforts to reduce energy subsidies in China, India and Russia. Despite dissimilarities in forms of governance, these three states have followed surprisingly similar patterns in reducing energy subsidies, characterised by two steps forward, one step back. Non-democratic governments and energy importers might be expected to be more likely to halt subsidies. In fact, the degree of democracy and status as net energy exporters or importers does not seem to significantly affect these countries’ capacity to reduce subsidies, as far as can be judged from the data in this article. Politicians in all three fear that taking unpopular decisions may provoke social unrest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Policy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle The Role of Policies in Supporting the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Systems: Experiences with Ontario, Canada’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program
Sustainability 2010, 2(1), 30-47; doi:10.3390/su2010030
Received: 10 November 2009 / Accepted: 22 December 2009 / Published: 24 December 2009
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (518 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Traditionally, high initial capital costs and lengthy payback periods have been identified as the most significant barriers that limit the diffusion of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. In November, 2006, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) introduced the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP), [...] Read more.
Traditionally, high initial capital costs and lengthy payback periods have been identified as the most significant barriers that limit the diffusion of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. In November, 2006, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) introduced the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP), offering owners of solar PV systems with a generation capacity under 10 MW a 20 year contract to sell electricity back to the grid at a guaranteed rate of CAD $0.42/kWh. While it is the intent of incentive programs such as the RESOP to begin to lower financial barriers in order to increase the uptake of solar PV systems, there is no guarantee that the level of participation will in fact rise. The "on-the-ground" manner in which consumers interact with such an incentive program ultimately determines its effectiveness. This paper analyzes the relationship between the RESOP and solar PV system consumers. Experiences of current RESOP participants are presented, wherein the factors that are either hindering or promoting utilization of the RESOP and the adoption of solar PV systems are identified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Policy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Exploring and Contextualizing Public Opposition to Renewable Electricity in the United States
Sustainability 2009, 1(3), 702-721; doi:10.3390/su1030702
Received: 25 August 2009 / Accepted: 16 September 2009 / Published: 21 September 2009
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (84 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article explores public opposition to renewable power technologies in the United States. It begins by discussing the genesis of environmental ethics, or how some Americans have come to place importance on the protection of the environment and preservation of species, ecosystems, [...] Read more.
This article explores public opposition to renewable power technologies in the United States. It begins by discussing the genesis of environmental ethics, or how some Americans have come to place importance on the protection of the environment and preservation of species, ecosystems, and the biosphere. As result, renewable power systems have become challenged on ethical and environmental grounds and are occasionally opposed by local communities and environmentalists. The article finds that, however, such concern may be misplaced. Renewable electricity resources have many environmental benefits compared to power stations fueled by coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium. Opposition towards renewable resources can at times obscure the true costs and risks associated with electricity use and entrench potential racial and class-based inequalities within the current energy system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Policy and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Potential Challenges Faced by the U.S. Chemicals Industry under a Carbon Policy
Sustainability 2009, 1(3), 592-611; doi:10.3390/su1030592
Received: 29 July 2009 / Accepted: 31 August 2009 / Published: 3 September 2009
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (319 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Chemicals have become the backbone of manufacturing within industrialized economies. Being energy-intensive materials to produce, this sector is threatened by policies aimed at combating and adapting to climate change. This study examines the worst-case scenario for the U.S. chemicals industry when a [...] Read more.
Chemicals have become the backbone of manufacturing within industrialized economies. Being energy-intensive materials to produce, this sector is threatened by policies aimed at combating and adapting to climate change. This study examines the worst-case scenario for the U.S. chemicals industry when a medium CO2 price policy is employed. After examining possible industry responses, the study goes on to identify and provide a preliminary evaluation of potential opportunities to mitigate these impacts. If climate regulations are applied only in the United States, and no action is taken to invest in advanced low- and no-carbon technologies to mitigate the impacts of rising energy costs, the examination shows that climate policies that put a price on carbon could have substantial impacts on the competiveness of the U.S. chemicals industry over the next two decades. In the long run, there exist technologies that are available to enable the chemicals sector to achieve sufficient efficiency gains to offset and manage the additional energy costs arising from a climate policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Policy and Sustainability)

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