Renewables Forecasts in a Low Carbon World:

A Brief Overview


Erin T. Mansur

Chapter 3, A. Jorge Padilla and Richard Schmalensee, ed. Harnessing Renewable Energy.
Working Paper, November 2009.




This chapter examines how concerns for climate—coupled with policy-makers’ and voters’ other preferences—are expected to affect the growth of renewables, particularly in the United States and the European Union. The chapter begins with a review of the recent growth in renewables and a discussion of current carbon policies. Then I review predictions of levels of investment in renewables in a low carbon world. Within the next twenty years, some authors predict that 20 to 40 percent of electricity will come from renewable resources, in an attempt to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Given the wide range of assumptions regarding carbon policies, economic growth, the responsiveness of the economy to carbon policy, innovation in renewables, and other modeling approaches, it is hard to generalize among these “black box” models. The complexity and continuous updating of these models makes a detailed peer review process necessary though beyond the scope of this paper.