21 Jun Modeling Technological Change in Energy Demand Forecasting: A Generalized Approach
“Modeling Technological Change in Energy Demand Forecasting: A Generalized Approach” (with John A. “Skip” Laitner) Technological Forecasting and Social Change 55, 1997
Conventional economic modeling of energy demand has characterized technological choice as an investment decision driven primarily by the relationship between capital costs and operating costs. Yet the implementation of this approach has tended to yield unrealistically high estimates of the implicit discount rate governing investment decisions, particularly those involving energy efficient technologies. This result arises from incomplete specification of the process of technological choice and the diffusion of innovations. General models of diffusion include conventional costs as one set of factors among many others that influence the spread of new technologies, These more general models have been widely applied to the adoption of other new or improved products, and their use in energy demand forecasting would lead to more accurate and reliable projections. Modification of the forecasts would have policy implications. In particular, the cost of a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging more rapid diffusion of energy efficient technologies is likely to be considerably smaller than would be suggested by the conventional economic models.