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Financing of the global shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency

University of Twente and Sustainable Innovations Academy, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Special Issues: Energy Finance

A global shift to low-carbon economies needs five times larger annual investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency compared to the present USD2005 200 billion. The question about how to finance those large investments is discussed with particular attention to the citizens’ savings because they are hardly used so far, except a few countries. If good conditions are created, activation of these savings is sufficiently large and it is rewarding regarding the cost-reducing technological change and many civil initiatives. High international prices of fossil fuels create favorable conditions but they are unpredictable whilst the present policy support for energy business and CO2 taxes do not compensate for the low prices. High CO2 taxes could do but meet opposition. Innovations in the USA and EU add value to the energy businesses by USD2005 9.2 billion a year based on average during 2005–2015, which exceeds their R&D on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Innovations in energy business also generate spin-off that exceeds 1% of the global GDP though the spin-off strongly varies across countries. The value addition motivates the supply-oriented and demand-oriented policy support for those energy innovations, in particular subsidies and price guarantees, respectively. Experiences with the subsidies in the USA compared to the price guarantees in the EU show that the latter involved larger expenditures but generated many more new firms and jobs per USD2005. A price guarantee per CO2 would invoke distributed energy systems entailing higher more energy-efficiency and energy security. Innovations generate adaptations when applied on larger scale. Their cost-reduction is function of scale; the projectable cost-reduction reduces the financial risks. Estimates show that the global investments in wind and solar power are efficiently allocated and operations are cost-effective. In addition to the power generation, those renewable energy with storage technologies deliver co-benefits to the energy producers and consumers and business models emerge tuned to the local conditions. The citizens’ participations in energy-efficiency and renewable energy would be enhanced if policies guarantee the annual value of the participants’ savings. Such guarantee would generate tax returns due to more companies and higher value of assets. The citizens participation with policy support enables the global shift to sustainable energy.
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