How economies can use more renewable energy
Recent power shortages in South Australia have led critics of renewables to point the blame at the rise in intermittent forms of energy, such as wind and solar, which have been replacing more consistent coal-fired power plants.
Through studying energy economics across the world, Dr Clinton Levitt, a resource economist at the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, has identified the key to a smoother transition into increased use of renewable energy.
“The issues of introducing renewables into an energy grid often depend on how fast you ramp them up,” Dr Levitt explains. “When you have a high rate of wind or solar, you also need to have the capacity to produce power when they’re not able to. And you have to pay for this capacity even if you’re not using it.”
As a research associate with the Centre for Business and Economic Research at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, Dr Levitt has been investigating how the country’s strict limits on the production of greenhouse gases are reducing emissions.
He’s also been investigating how businesses around the world are dealing with the costs of this changing tide on energy production.
“Having these other power sources sit idly by can be very costly,” he says. “But what we discovered is that you can do away with some of that cost through interconnectedness.”
“For example, in Denmark, where they have huge amounts of wind power, and they decommissioned a lot of their coal plants, they are interconnected with other electricity grids, such as in Sweden, Norway, and Germany.”
Dr Levitt explains that even when Denmark imports power from these other electricity grids, it’s usually still reliant on renewable energy.
“It can go to Sweden and Norway and use hydro, or go to Germany and use wind. So, even though the country is importing its power, it’s still renewable. In Australia, if you import from another region within the country, it’s probably coming from coal or gas.”
Dr Levitt says that in Australia, because we can’t easily import power from other countries, we need more interconnectedness within the country itself – both to more renewable energy generators, and to smaller, house-level battery storage.
“Having those household-level batteries that store or export to the grid makes interconnectedness almost complete,” he says.
As an applied economist, Dr Levitt studies everything from strategic behaviour in oil and gas exploration to the linkages between national efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and international trade.
His research leads to the design of policies that are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and he says introducing renewable energy sources into power systems is one way of reducing the emissions created by electricity generation.
As the world becomes increasingly aware of the consequences of many decades of inaction on climate change, Dr Levitt feels the urgency of his work.
“I think 99.9% of economists would say it’s a pressing issue to design mechanisms that reduce greenhouse emissions,” he says.
Research that makes a difference
Clinton Levitt is a lecturer in economics in the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics. He works in applied economics with primary interests in energy economics, natural resource and environmental economics as well as industrial organization. His research includes investigating strategic behaviour in oil and gas exploration and its implication for public policy. He is also researching the linkages between national efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and international trade. Clint is also studying the economics of introducing various renewable energy sources (like wind power) into power systems.
Clinton is a Lecturer of economics at the University of Tasmania in the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics. He is also a research associate at the Centre for Business and Economic Research at the Copenhagen Business School. Prior to joining the University of Tasmania in June 2013, he was an Assistant Professor of economic s at the Copenhagen Business School. Clint obtained his PhD in economics from the University of Iowa in the United States.
|Degree||Title of Thesis||University||Country||Awarded|
|PhD||Strategic Information in Oil and Gas Exploration||University of Iowa||United States||2009|
|BA (Hons)||Economics||University of Calgary||Canada||2003|
Microeconomics, Natural resource economics, Energy economics, Industrial organization, statistics
- Natural resource economics
- Energy economics
- Industrial organization
- Natural resource economics
- Environmental economics
- Energy economics
- Industrial organization
- Applied economics
Clint's research aligns with the Universities research theme of Environment, Resource and sustainability. His research in economics is focused on finding solutions to important issues; such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, introducing renewable energy sources into power systems and efficient management of natural resources including tax and royalty design.
Clint's research interests reflect a desire to understand the outcomes of a broad range of efforts by various economies to curb greenhouse emissions. This research leads naturally to thinking about the design of policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Introducing renewable energy sources into power systems is one way of reducing emissions from generating electricity. His research looks into the economics of introducing wind power, for example, into a power systems built on coal or other non-renewable resources. This research provides answers to questions concerning the design and implementation of environmental policy which impacts all members of society.
Clinton is currently involved in a variety of international projects, which are primarily aimed in understanding the role that international trade plays in greenhouse gas emissions. There projects involve a partnership with the economics department at the Copenhagen Business School and with the Centre for Business and Economic Research at the Copenhagen Business School.
International Trade and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: In one project, I am attempting to disentangle the linkages between international trade and greenhouse gas emissions. Current topics include determining the extent that firms outsource emission intensive production to avoid costs associated with environmental policy. A second, project focuses on assessing the impact of China's admission into the WTO on the emission content of international trade.
Economics of Power Systems: A key policy implemented to curb greenhouse gases emitted from generating electricity has been to introduce non-thermal or renewable sources of power into power systems. Wind power has been one of the main alternatives that have been introduced into different power systems. My current projects investigate the economics of introducing wind energy into power systems.
Strategic Behaviour in Oil and Gas Exploration: This research agenda looks to characterise how firms exploring for oil and gas use information in their exploration decisions. Another project examines how firms respond to changes in tax and royalty structures. These projects can inform the design and implementation of resource policy.
Fields of Research
- Environment and Resource Economics (140205)
- Economic History (140203)
- Financial Econometrics (150202)
- Economic Models and Forecasting (140303)
- Renewable Power and Energy Systems Engineering (excl. Solar Cells) (090608)
- Industry Economics and Industrial Organisation (140209)
- Public Economics- Taxation and Revenue (140215)
- Oil and Gas Exploration (850103)
- Economic Framework (919999)
- Energy Systems Analysis (850603)
- Supply and Demand (910211)
- Environmentally Sustainable Energy Activities (859899)
- Renewable Energy (850599)
- Industry Policy (910205)
- Market-Based Mechanisms (910206)
Clinton, together with collaborators from the Copenhagen Business School, have recently published two major studies on the Denmark's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The studies garnered a lot of publicity: The research was discussed in over 25 media outlets including magazines, newspapers, radio and TV. Clint was invited to Denmark to give a press conference to present our conclusions to the media. Members of the Danish Parliament were also in attendance to discuss the results and the implications for future policy. Clint is continuing to study policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Journal Article(4 outputs)
|2017||Levitt CJ, Saaby M, Sorensen A, 'Australia's consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions', Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 61 pp. 1-21. ISSN 1364-985X (2017) [Refereed Article]|
|2016||Levitt C, 'Information spillovers in onshore oil and gas exploration ', Resource and Energy Economics, 45 pp. 80-98. ISSN 0928-7655 (2016) [Refereed Article]|
|2015||Levitt CJ, Pedersen MS, Sorensen A, 'Examining the efforts of a small, open economy to reduce carbon emissions: The case of Denmark', Ecological Economics, 119 pp. 94-106. ISSN 0921-8009 (2015) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 2
|2002||Emery JCH, Levitt CJ, 'Cost of living, real wages and real incomes in thirteen Canadian cities, 1900-1950', Canadian Journal of Economics, 35, (1) pp. 115 -137. ISSN 0008-4085 (2002) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 16Web of Science - 18
Contract Report, Consultant's Report(2 outputs)
|2016||Levitt CJ, Sorensen A, 'The Cost of Producing Electricity in Denmark: A Technical Companion', The Rockwool Foundation, Denmark (2016) [Contract Report]|
|2014||Levitt CJ, Sorensen A, 'The Cost of Producing Electricity in Denmark', The Rockwool Foundation, Denmark (2014) [Contract Report]|
Grants & Funding
Clint has been the CI on two large research grants, totalling $800,000, as well as received additional grants which funded research workshops which he organized.
Clint's last research grant ($400,000) was awarded to study the outcome of Denmark's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Number of grants
- An important aspect is to identify drivers for innovation. This is important for the understanding of which companies innovate but also to establish causality between innovation and company efficiency which shows that companies improve performance through innovation, and that high-performance companies do not innovate by default.
- Copenhagen Business School ($78,200)
- Contract Research
- Administered By
- University of Tasmania
- Research Team
- Levitt CJ
- 2017 - 2018
|PhD||Strategic Behaviour Analysis and Modelling of Electricity Prices of Australian National Electricity Market||2017|
|PhD||Impact of Traditional and Financial Capital on Natural Resources Management and Food Security in Borana Pastoral Community, Southern Ethiopia||2017|
|PhD||An Empirical Industrial Organisation Model of the Eastern Australian Electricity Market||2018|