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The economic impact of renewable energies

The last century has witnessed an unprecedented rate of growth in energy systems due to the widespread availability of fossil fuel resources. However, in the last decade the impact of the modern energy system on the environment has become evident. Renewable energy sources could be one solution to this problem. This dissertation aims to offer a general understanding of the economic implications of renewable energies by considering their costs and benefits.

I have begun by creating a summary of present and projected future energy demands, which demonstrates our reliance on this way of life. Assuming the increasing human need for energy is causing environmental degradation this proves the need for quick implementation of renewable energies to slow this process.

After a theoretical explanation of the Cost-Benefit analysis and of the Shadow Prices, I intend to show how opinions about the high cost of renewable energies can change if Shadow Prices and different discount rates are taken in consideration in a Cost-Benefit analysis.

Government Policy will be discussed in order to establish the economic case of implementing reforms to help the development of renewable energy. The last chapter will describe the present technology of the renewable energies that will be taken into consideration in this paper: wind energy, solar energy, biomass energy, hydro energy, and geothermal energy.

Mostra/Nascondi contenuto.
Chapter 1: Introduction “All economic industrial revolutions have at their core an enhancement of the supply of energy, because this feeds and changes all aspects of human activity.” (Landes, 1998) Since the beginning of time, man has been trying to improve their own habitats’ energies to progress their work. Biomass energy (burning wood) was used even before the discovery of agriculture and coal started to be burnt during the Iron Age. The Egyptians introduced hydro energy, their watermills enabled the water of the Nile to be used more efficiently and 2000 years later, in the late Middle Ages, hydro power, together with wind power, helped to begin the process, which in less than a millennium, developed Europe from woodland to the most developed continent in the world. The industrial revolution was based on the use of wood and coal as thermal energy to be transformed into mechanical energy through the development of steam technology. The discovery of oil at the end of the 19 th century (which had been used for centuries by the Chinese) brought a new fuel to the market and, together with the internal combustion engine, revolutionised 20 th century transport technology. From this, new applications of oil, and later of gas, ran parallel to new ways of recovery and processing techniques that changed the nature of the world. “The history of energy supply is parallel to the continuous development in the way it is converted into a useful product or service.” (Grubb and Walker, 1992). But since the time of the Roman Empire environmental degradation has been seen increasing along with a broader use of energy: Seneca, a great stoic philosopher and Emperor Nero’s tutor, complained of his increasing health problems, which he believed were caused by the smoke produced by wood combustion in Rome. In fact coal burning has been recognized as being extremely polluting since 1352 when a ban was introduced in London on coal burning. Today, the continuous emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, due to the impact of human activities, has been the reason why over the last hundred years the Earth’s surface air temperature has been increasing by half a degree. In 1

Laurea liv.II (specialistica)

Facoltà: Economia

Autore: Federico Pastrone Contatta »

Composta da 47 pagine.


Questa tesi ha raggiunto 571 click dal 22/05/2008.


Consultata integralmente una volta.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.