The Value of Technological Advance in Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy

27 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2008

See all articles by Richard G. Richels

Richard G. Richels

Electric Power Research Institute, U.S.A.

Geoffrey Blanford

Stanford University

Date Written: November 2007


This paper examines the role of technology in managing the costs of a carbon constraint on the U.S. economy. Two portfolios of technology are examined. One reflects modest investments in climate-friendly technologies, the other more aggressive development. The analysis indicates that the development of a broad range of low-to zero-carbon emitting technologies can substantially reduce (but not eliminate) the economic cost of decarbonization. By enabling large-scale emissions reductions on the supply-side, costly reductions in demand for high-value energy services are avoided. In particular, the emergence of electricity as a low-carbon fuel provides a powerful lever for achieving reductions in other sectors of the economy at lower cost. While the analysis suggests that there is no free lunch, the bill, which may indeed be well worth paying, can be greatly reduced through an accelerated R&D program and successful diffusion of new technology throughout the economy.

Suggested Citation

Richels, Richard and Blanford, Geoffrey, The Value of Technological Advance in Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy (November 2007). Reg-Markets Center Working Paper No. 07-19, Available at SSRN: or

Richard Richels (Contact Author)

Electric Power Research Institute, U.S.A. ( email )

3412 Hillview Avenue
P.O. Box 10412
Palo Alto, CA 94304-1395
United States
415-855-2602 (Phone)
415-855-1080 (Fax)

Geoffrey Blanford

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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