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Products: Energy Policy & Planning Group

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Sustainable Development and the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative: An Economic Assessment

 The connection between the emerging field of sustainability science and the economics of sustainable development has motivated a line of interdisciplinary research inspired by the notion of “positive sustainability.” This notion is founded on three principles or pillars: (1) adopting a complex systems approach to modeling and analysis, integrating natural resource systems, the environment, and the economy; (2) pursuing dynamic efficiency, that is, efficiency over both time and space in the management of the resource-environment-economy complex to maximize intertemporal well-being; and (3) enhancing stewardship for the future through intertemporal equity, which is increasingly represented as intergenerational neutrality or impartiality. This paper argues that the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) fails to satisfy all three pillars of sustainability, and consequently fails to achieve the "sustainability criterion" put forward by Arrow, Dagupta, Daily et al: that total welfare of all future generations not be diminished. HCEI shrinks the economy, contributes negligibly to reduction of global carbon emissions, and sparks rent seeking activity (pursuit of special privilege and benefits) throughout the State of Hawaii.

WORKING PAPER


Tax Credit Incentives for Residential Solar Photovoltaic in Hawai‘i

Solar photovoltaic (PV) tax credits are at the center of a public debate in Hawai‘i. The controversy stems largely from unforeseen budgetary impacts, driven in part by the difference between the legislative intent and implementation of the PV tax credits. HRS 235-12.5 allows individual and corporate taxpayers to claim a 35% tax credit against Hawaii state individual or corporate net income tax for eligible renewable energy technology, including PV. The policy imposes a $5,000 cap per system, and excess credit amounts can be carried forward to future tax years. Because the law did not clearly define what constitutes a system or restrict the number of systems per roof, homeowners have claimed tax credits for multiple systems on a single property. In an attempt to address this issue, in November 2012, temporary administrative rules define a PV system as an installation with output capacity of at least 5 kW for a single-family residential property. The new rule does not constrain the total number of systems per roof, but rather defines system size and permits tax credits for no more than one sub-5 kW system. In other words, it is possible to install multiple 5 kW systems and claim credits capped at $5,000 for each system. There is an additional 30% tax credit for PV capital costs at the federal level. There is no cap for the federal tax credit and excess credits can be rolled over to subsequent years.

UHERO BRIEF


Statewide Economy and Electricity-Sector Models for Assessment of Hawai‘i Energy Policies

This paper uses both a "top-down" and "bottom-up" economic model to asses the cost and greenhouse implications of various energy and environmental alternatives. The Hawai‘i Computable Generable Equilibrium Model (H-CGE) is a “top-down,” economy-wide model that captures the interaction between both producers and consumers, including full price effects between sectors. The Hawai‘i Electricity Model (HELM) is a “bottom-up” representation of Hawai‘i’s electricity sector.  The dynamic optimization model solves for the least-cost mix of generation subject to satisfying demand, regulatory requirements, and system constraints.  The models are fully integrated in respect to the electricity sector, where overall economic conditions determine electricity demand and, subsequently, the type of electricity generation has economic impact.

UHERO Brief


Foundations for Hawai‘i’s Green Economy: Economic Trends in Hawai‘i Agriculture, Energy, and Natural Resource Management

It is clear from previous studies that Hawai‘i’s natural capital is highly valued and should be managed accordingly. For example, Kaiser et al. (1999) estimate that the Ko‘olau watershed provides forest benefits valued between $7.4 and $ 14 billion, comprised of water resource benefits ($4,736-­‐9,156 million), species habitat benefits ($487-­‐1,434 million), biodiversity benefits ($0.67-­‐5.5 million), subsistence benefits ($34.7-­‐131 million), hunting related benefits ($62.8-­‐237 million), aesthetic values ($1,040-­‐3,070 million), commercial harvest ($0.6-­‐2.4 million), and ecotourism ($1,000-­‐2,980 million). Hawai‘i’s coral reefs alone are estimated to generate at least $10 billion in present value, or $360 million per annum (Cesar and van Beukering, 2004). Another recent study considering the value to all U.S. households finds that increasing the current size of marine protected areas in Hawai‘i from 1% to 25% and restoring five acres of coral reefs annually would generate $34 billion per year (Bishop et al., 2011).2 While many studies that place value on Hawai‘i’s natural resources have been undertaken in recent years, little is known about the economic impacts generated by agencies charged with protecting and managing these important resources in Hawai‘i. To that end, an online survey of natural resource managers in Hawai‘i was conducted, and the results are summarized in section 6 of this report.

PROJECT REPORT


Foundations for Hawai‘i’s Green Economy: Economic Trends in Hawai‘i Agriculture, Energy, and Natural Resource Management

This report provides the first comparison of standard economic indicators for three sectors that are key to future sustainability in Hawai‘i - renewable energy, agriculture and natural resource management. Economic information has long been collected for many sectors in Hawai‘i, including agriculture and energy, but no systematic surveys have been conducted on the NRM sector to date. With support from The Nature Conservancy and Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation, the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization was tasked with characterizing this important part of Hawai‘i’s economy, in terms of number and types of jobs, salaries, and annual expenditures.

PRoject PAPER


An Assessment Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions-Weighted Clean Energy Standards

Published in the journal Energy Policy, this paper quantifies the relative cost-savings of utilizing a greenhouse gas emissions-weighted Clean Energy Standard (CES) in comparison to a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Using a bottom-up electricity sector model for Hawaii, this paper demonstrates that a policy that gives “clean energy” credit to electricity technologies based on their cardinal ranking of lifecycle GHG emissions, normalizing the highest-emitting unit to zero credit, can reduce the costs of emissions abatement by up to 90% in comparison to a typical RPS. A GHG emissions-weighted CES provides incentive to not only pursue renewable sources of electricity, but also promotes fuel-switching among fossil fuels and improved generation efficiencies at fossil-fired units. CES is found to be particularly cost-effective when projected fossil fuel prices are relatively low.

 

UHERO has developed a two-page Policy Brief on this paper. The full publication can be found at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421512000961


KITV Project Economy: APEC Economic Impact

UHERO Research Fellow and Director of the EGGS program, Dr. Denise Konan discusses the economic impact of the APEC conference.

watch


Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Hawaii: Household and Visitor Analysis

This paper focuses on petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with economic activities in Hawai‘i. Data on economic activity, petroleum consumption by type (gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, residual, propane), and emissions factors are compiled and analyzed. In the baseline year 1997, emissions are estimated to total approximately 23.2 million metric tons of carbon, 181 thousand metric tons of nitrous oxide, and 31 thousand metric tons of methane in terms of carbon-equivalent global warming potential over a 100-year horizon. Air transportation, electricity, and other transportation are the key economic activity responsible for GHG emissions associated with fossil fuel use. More than 22 percent of total emissions are attributed to visitor expenditures. On a per person per annum basis, emission rates generated by visitor demand are estimated to be higher than that of residents by a factor of 4.3 for carbon, 3.2 for methane, and 4.8 for nitrous oxide.

The full publication can be found at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140988309001133 


Analysis of Introduction of Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicles to Honolulu

The primary aim of this study is to understand the benefits and barriers which might be associated with the introduction of PHEV technology to Hawaii. This analysis illustrates that PHEV’s represent a much larger and more pervasive strategic opportunity than is generally appreciated in the State. Specific interests that guided our research were:

  • To estimate the impacts which relatively modest PHEV penetration rates might have on Hawaii’s GHG emission and fuel substitution goals.
  • To determine whether PHEV’s could be introduced to Hawaii without triggering major generating capacity additions.
  • To consider whether PHEV’s might play a role in optimizing the use of renewable wind resources that might otherwise be un-usable.
  • To assess the role of PHEV’s in the Hawaii’s attempt to control GHG emissions.

UHERO project report


Targeting Hawaii Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions: Emission Forecasts and Their Implications for Act 234

Act 234 calls for the state of Hawai‘i to return its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Under a business as usual environment, we forecast Hawai’i’s 2020 emissions to be between 18 and 34 percent above 1990 levels. Since transportation and electricity account for about 75 percent of Hawai’i’s GHG emissions, most likely a large share of the reductions will need to come from these sectors for Hawai’i’ to comply with Act 234.

Uhero project report


Energy and Greenhouse Gas Solutions: Hawai‘i Greenhouse Gas Emissions Profile 1990 and 2005

In an effort to effect national and global climate change policy to address the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the Hawai'i legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2007, Act 234. Act 234 calls for Hawai'i to return its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Here we report an inventory of emissions for the state for 1990 and 2005, and forecast emissions growth out to 2020.

Uhero project report


Concepts in Greenhouse Gas Regulation: A Primer on Meeting ACT 234

In 2007, Hawaii became the second State after California to adopt binding greenhouse gas reductions targets in ACT 234. The legislation follows the example set by California in attaining 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020. The State of Hawaii Department of Health Clean Air Branch is tasked to regulated emissions through the use of market-based mechanisms - essentially building a market for greenhouse gas pollution. While ACT 234 was in many ways modeled after California’s AB32, it is also recognized that Hawaii has unique economic and environmental characteristics. Hawaii will require policies tailored to its island features. This briefing provides a primer on greenhouse gas regulation options and how they might be applied to the case of Hawaii.

UHERO project Report


An Overview of U.S. Regional and National Climate Change Mitigation Strategies: Lessons for Hawai‘i

The challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will differ from place to place, although it is particularly unique in the case of islands. Islands tend to be highly oil and tourism-dependent. Questions as to what type of market-based mechanism, such as cap-and-trade or a carbon tax, and what type of regional partnerships will be appropriate for an island economy are questions that Hawaii policy-makers face. A 10-member Task Force was created as a result of ACT 234 to develop the work plan for reaching the target reduction. This briefing is designed to help the Task Force and others to better understand what climate mitigation policies have been developed elsewhere, the choices made in developing the policy architecture, what types of economic and environmental analyses support these policy decisions, and how examples of other states, regional cooperatives, and international initiatives may be applicable to the case of Hawaii.

Uhero Project report


Endogenous Substitution Among Energy Resources and Global Warming

The theory of resource extraction has focused primarily on extraction when there is a single, homogeneous demand for the resource. In reality, however, we observe the simultaneous extraction of different resources such as oil, coal, and natural gas and multiple demands such as trasportation, residential and commercial heating, and electricity generation. This paper develops a model with multiple resources and grades and multiple demands. The model is simulated with extraction cost, estimated reserves, and energy demand data for the world economy. It is shown that if historical rates of cost reduction in the production of solar energy are maintained, more than 90 percent of the world's coal will never be used. The world will move from oil and natural gas use to solar energy. Global temperatures will rise by only about 1.5–2 degrees centigrade by the middle of the next century and then decline steadily to preindustrial levels, even without carbon taxes. These results are significantly lower than those predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and suggest that the case for global warming may be seriously overstated.

Chakravorty, U., Roumasset, J., Tse, K., 1997. Endogenous substitution among energy resources and global warming.  Journal of Political Economy, 105 (6), 1201-1234.  Reprinted in Hoel, M. Recent developments in environmental economics. Edward Elgar, 2004.


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