Energie : papiers de recherche moissonnés (12/12/2016)

Oil Prices and the Global Economy : Is It Different This Time Around? / Kamiar Mohaddes and Hashem Pesaran. IMF, November 2016, 16 p. (Working Paper No. 16/210) http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=44377

The recent plunge in oil prices has brought into question the generally accepted view that lower oil prices are good for the United States and the global economy. In this paper, using a quarterly multi-country econometric model, we first show that a fall in oil prices tends relatively quickly to lower interest rates and inflation in most countries, and increase global real equity prices. The effects on real output are positive, although they take longer to materialize (around four quarters after the shock). We then re-examine the effects of low oil prices on the U.S. economy over different sub-periods using monthly observations on real oil prices, real equity prices and real dividends. We confirm the perverse positive relationship between oil and equity prices over the period since the 2008 financial crisis highlighted in the recent literature, but show that this relationship has been unstable when considered over the longer time period of 1946–2016. In contrast, we find a stable negative relationship between oil prices and real dividends which we argue is a better proxy for economic activity (as compared to equity prices). On the supply side, the effects of lower oil prices differ widely across the different oil producers, and could be perverse initially, as some of the major oil producers try to compensate their loss of revenues by raising production. Taking demand and supply adjustments to oil price changes as a whole, we conclude that oil markets equilibrate but rather slowly, with large episodic swings between low and high oil prices.

EU energy policy – 4th time lucky? / David Buchan & Malcolm Keay. Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, December 2016, 9 p. (Oxford energy comment) https://www.oxfordenergy.org/publications/eu-energy-policy-4th-time-lucky/

The European Commission has tabled a mega-package of legislative proposals to complete its blueprint for Europe’s Energy Union. Billed as “the biggest transformation of Europe’s energy system since the building of its centralised energy system a century ago”, the draft legislation aims to accelerate decarbonisation by adapting the electricity market to decentralised and intermittent renewables, and progressive Europeanisation of the sector via a shift from national to regional focus in regulation, renewable payments and back-up systems. It is but a milestone on the long road to any real energy union, and still falls short of that project’s ultimate objectives. But its timing is fortuitous in the fight against climate change, coming as a reminder to President-elect Donald Trump of the undiminished clean energy ambitions of America’s European partners, and possibly in time to reach the EU statute book before the UK’s likely exit from the Union in 2019.

Re-assessment of net energy production and greenhouse gas emissions avoidance after 40 years of photovoltaics development / Atse Louwen, Wilfried G. J. H. M. van Sark, André P. C. Faaij and Ruud E. I. Schropp. Nature Communication, published online 6 Dec. 2016 http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13728

Since the 1970s, installed solar photovoltaic capacity has grown tremendously to 230 gigawatt worldwide in 2015, with a growth rate between 1975 and 2015 of 45%. This rapid growth has led to concerns regarding the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of photovoltaics production. We present a review of 40 years of photovoltaics development, analysing the development of energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions associated with photovoltaics production. Here we show strong downward trends of environmental impact of photovoltaics production, following the experience curve law. For every doubling of installed photovoltaic capacity, energy use decreases by 13 and 12% and greenhouse gas footprints by 17 and 24%, for poly- and monocrystalline based photovoltaic systems, respectively. As a result, we show a break-even between the cumulative disadvantages and benefits of photovoltaics, for both energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, occurs between 1997 and 2018, depending on photovoltaic performance and model uncertainties.

Room for cynicism and hope in Russia’s deal with OPEC / James Henderson. Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Dec. 2016, 10 p. (Oxford energy comment) https://www.oxfordenergy.org/publications/room-cynicism-hope-russias-deal-opec/

Although relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia have improved since the debacle in Doha in April 2016, it is clear that both sides will be watching each other carefully over the next few months. The fact that both have made their own implementation of a production cut dependent on the performance of the other suggests that trust has not been fully restored. Indeed, both sides have reason to be cautious. OPEC’s record of compliance with quotas is weak, and Russia also has a poor record of fulfilling any promises to cooperate with OPEC. Having said this, some form of Russian output restraint is conceivable. It may be the case that Russia is expecting a flattening of output in the first half of 2017 in any case, having pushed very hard to maximise output by the end of 2016. It is even possible that, despite the difficulty of sharing a production cut among the various Russian oil companies, drilling could be slowed and older fields could be allowed to decline slightly more rapidly for a period of time, even as new field developments continue to progress. This could produce a result approximating to a production cut in some form. Furthermore, given Rosneft’s financial constraints after a recent spending spree, it may also be the case that the owner of more than 40% of Russia’s oil production may be keen to ease its upstream spending in the short-term. However, the speed of any decline must be uncertain, and furthermore it must be likely that debates over “technical issues”, the meaning of the phrase “gradual decline”, the need for a “government order” and the allocation of “proportional cuts” will drag the process out well into the first quarter of 2017, and perhaps even to the second quarter. Nevertheless, even if a Russian output cut or freeze only results in production of 11 mb/d for the first half of 2017, this could still provide a result that is below market expectations for the year as a whole and thus could be supportive of the oil price. Indeed, this outcome may be exactly what Russia is aiming for. Enough to suggest that oil market rebalancing is a realistic hope in 2017, but not so much as to undermine the progress of the Russian oil sector in establishing levels of average annual production at a post-Soviet high.


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