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Requirements for a Renewables Revolution

Felix Mormann

Stanford Law School; University of Miami School of Law

May 2, 2011

38 Ecology Law Quarterly 903 (2011)
Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 1829521

This Article identifies and analyzes the obstacles presently barring the rise of renewables, evaluates the role of the current policy favorite emission pricing, and offers design recommendations for a comprehensive U.S. renewables policy.

Successful climate change mitigation requires a timely shift to renewable sources of energy, such as sunlight, wind or tides, to decarbonize today’s high-carbon electricity sector. But market pull alone is not strong enough. This Article discusses the most widely cited economic barriers and identifies and evaluates additional obstacles related to the electricity sector’s regulatory framework.

Emission pricing is largely considered the most efficient policy to drive the timely transition to a renewables-based electricity sector. This Article argues that, for political, conceptual, and, most of all, regulatory reasons, emission pricing will not fuel the rise of renewables at the speed necessary for successful climate change mitigation.

Rather, a comprehensive renewables policy is required to address each and every one of the existing barriers. Drawing on the policy experience of other sectors and nations, I offer recommendations for the design of a comprehensive U.S. renewables policy. Many of the proposed policy recommendations aim at non-economic barriers, which can be overcome through regulatory intervention. Once these barriers have been removed, policy support for renewables can focus on the remaining economic barriers and, hence, becomes far less costly. In light of the plethora of obstacles to a timely transition to renewables, this Article calls for concerted policy action by scientists, engineers, economists, lawyers, marketers, and educators to fuel the renewables revolution.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 64

Keywords: energy, renewable, electricity, carbon, emission, climate change, promotion, policy, regulation, regulatory, tax, cap-and-trade, innovation, coal, nuclear, oil, energy security

JEL Classification: D40, D62, E60, F01, K23, K32, O38, Q28, Q42, Q43, Q48

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Date posted: May 10, 2011 ; Last revised: May 8, 2012

Suggested Citation

Mormann, Felix, Requirements for a Renewables Revolution (May 2, 2011). 38 Ecology Law Quarterly 903 (2011); Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 1829521. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1829521

Contact Information

Felix Mormann (Contact Author)
Stanford Law School ( email )
Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

University of Miami School of Law ( email )
1311 Miller Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

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