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Economic evaluation of renewable energy systems under varying scenarios and its implications to Korea’s renewable energy plan

Koo, Jamin, Park, Kyungtae, Shin, Dongil, Yoon, En Sup
Applied energy 2011 v.88 no.6 pp. 2254-2260
biomass production, carbon markets, energy, energy costs, fossil fuels, international cooperation, learning, power plants, prices, renewable energy sources, uncertainty, Korean Peninsula
This paper studies economics of renewable energy systems with consideration of future prospects on costs and uncertain external conditions that may affect competitiveness in the power plant market. The concept of learning curve is adopted to compute estimates on the costs of installing and operating renewable energy systems in the future; fuel costs and carbon price are modeled as scenario-dependent variables to analyze their impact on total costs under different scenarios. The proposed approach allows evaluation and comparison of total costs necessary in implementing renewable energy plans under varying technological, and/or economical conditions that face uncertainty at present. Moreover, analyzing the evaluation results further with techniques like sensitivity analysis can identify factors central to reducing the total costs. As an illustrative case-study, the Korean government’s renewable energy plan has been evaluated accordingly, under three different scenarios defined by International Energy Agency (IEA). The evaluation results indicate minor changes in total costs of achieving the plan among three scenarios, mainly due to counterbalancing between the price of fossil fuels and carbon price. Further analyses revealed factors central to lowering the total costs necessary in implementing the plan—hybridization between renewable energy systems, reduction of biomass production costs via technological innovation, increasing learning rates by focusing on R&D and international cooperation.