Source Themes

The Effects of Renewable Electricity Supply when Renewables Dominate: Evidence from Uruguay

The benefits of expanding wind and solar electricity generation depend on the effect they have on the electricity production mix. Using hourly production data from Uruguay, a country which currently has 94% of its grid green, I study its electricity transition to renewables. In particular, I quantify how an increase in wind and solar production first, displaces thermal, hydro, and biomass production. Second, I analyze how this transition reduces CO2 emissions in a context of large hydro production; and third how it affects spot prices. I find that the increase in wind and solar production has several positive effects, (i) a displacement of thermal production, especially in winter; (ii) a reduction in the CO2 emissions; (iii) a spillover effect to the region due to an increase in exports to Argentina and Brazil; (iv) a decrease in spot prices caused by the shutting-off of the most (marginally) costly plants. However, the increase in wind and solar production is not enough to eradicate thermal entirely. These results show what countries can expect from increasing their production in renewables, how renewables interact with other electricity sources, and its effect on emissions, and spot prices.

The Impact of Solar Panel Installation on Electricity Consumption and Production

TSince 2010, the Uruguayan government has fostered the installation of solar panels by households and firms to increase the small-scale production of renewable electricity. The government allows agents with solar panels to inject any excess of electricity into the grid. We study the environmental and economic consequences of this policy. We collect a novel dataset on electricity extraction and injection into the grid at the household/firm level for the whole country. First, we find that solar panels decrease the electricity extracted from the grid. Second, the amount of electricity injected into the grid increases. Third, we calculate the effects on CO2 emissions and the rebound effect. We find a reduction between 0.35 and 0.003 kg of CO2 emissions every month for each agent. We find evidence of a rebound effect, consumption increases between 20% and 26% on average. Finally, we propose an alternative policy that allows agents to store the electricity in batteries instead of immediately injecting it into the grid. According to our model, the best time to inject electricity into the grid is around 9 PM. We leverage household-firm level data to study the effect of a net-metering policy on electricity extraction and injection, showing what countries can expect from such a policy..

Gains from Off-Grid School Electrification in Rural Areas

We analyze the program Lights to Learn lead by the ``Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura" (OEI), in Uruguay. This program installed solar panels in unelectrified and isolated rural schools, training schools on the usage and maintenance of the panels, provided schools with internet connectivity and a laptop. Using a difference-in-difference approach we study the effects of electrifying rural schools on students' enrollment, attendance, repetition, dropout, class size, and multi-grade at pre-schools and elementary levels. We find that on average, the electrification increased enrollment by 1.7 students per school. This increase in enrollment is driven by male students. Moreover, we find and increase in the rate of very low and very high attendance. No effect was found in repetition or dropout.

Gender of Legislators and Renewable Energy

Do female policy makers encourage the production and investment of renewable energy compared to their male counterparts? Using instrumental variables, we conduct a cross-country analysis of 41 high-income countries for the years 1990 and 1997-2015 using quota laws and women’s suffrage as instruments for women’s participation in the parliament. We find that a 1 percentage point increase in the proportion of women in the legislature increases renewable energy production between 0.74 and 1.64 percentage points. This study suggests that fostering policies that boost women's participation in policy-making positions is beneficial, especially when considering the positive spillover to other countries.