Mr. Pragyan Deb, Davide Furceri, Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, and Nour Tawk
Lockdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have reduced overall energy demand but electricity generation from renewable sources has been resilient. While this partly reflects the trend increase in renewables, the empirical analysis presented in this paper highlights that recessions result in a permanent, albeit small, increase in energy efficiency and in the share of renewables in total electricity. These effects are stronger in the case of advanced economies and when complemented with environment and energy policies—both market-based measures such as taxes on pollutants, trading schemes and feed-in-tariffs, as well as non-market measures such as emission and fuel standards and R&D investment and subsidies—to incentivize and hasten the transition towards renewable sources of energy.
This paper discusses structure, impact, costs, and efficiency of renewable energy supply in the eight largest advanced economies (the G-7 plus Spain), with focus on Germany. Renewables production costs are compared to benefits, defined as reductions in net carbon emissions; technological innovation, and increased energy security. The latter part of the paper centers on Germany, the main European producer of non-traditional renewables. We question whether the level of subsidies can be justified, relative to other means to increase energy security and reduce carbon emissions. We also find an excessive emphasis on current productive activity, relative to development of new technologies.