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Renewables vs. energy efficiency: the cost of carbon emissions reduction in Spain

A. López-Peña, I.J. Pérez-Arriaga, P. Linares

While support instruments have succeeded to largely deploy renewables during the 1996-2008 period, little at tention has been paid to energy efficiency measures, resulting in a high energy intensity and large growth of energy demand. Energy-related CO2 emissions have in creased significantly. At the same time, important investments in combined cycle gas turbines have taken place.This paper analyses whether, from a cost minimization view point, renewable supporth as been the best policy for reducing emissions, when compared to the promotion of energy efficiency in sectors such as transportation or buildings. We use a model of the Spanish energy sector to examine its evolution in the time period considered under different policies. It is a bottom-up, static, partial equilibrium, linear programming model of the complete Spanish energy system. We conclude that demand side management (DSM) clearly dominates renewable energy (RE) support if the reduction of emissions at minimum cost is the only concern. We also quantify the savings that could have been achieved: a total of €5 billion per year, mainly in RE subsidies and in smaller costs of meeting the reduced demand (net of DSM implementation cost).


Keywords: CO2 emissions, renewable energysupport, energy conservation


Energy Policy. Volume: 50 Pages: 659-668

Journal Impact Factor: JCR impact factor 4.140 (2016)

DOI reference: DOI icon 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.08.006    

Published on paper: November 2012.


    Topics research:
  • Analysis of sustainable energy policies

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