Policy options to limit CO2 emissions from electricity supply. An OECD perspective

Ellis, Jane and Peake, Stephen (1996). Policy options to limit CO2 emissions from electricity supply. An OECD perspective. In: International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA ed. Symposium on electricity, health and the environment: Comparative assessment in support of decision making. Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), pp. 93–108.


The paper gives an overview of policy measures that countries within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are pursuing in order to limit CO2 emissions in the electricity sector, concentrating on policies used to influence fuel options in electricity production. The context in which these policies are intended to apply is changing rapidly because of structural and regulatory reforms, technological advances in capacity and fuel efficiency, increasing electricity demand and environmental pressures. OECD countries exhibit a wide variation in fuel mix for electricity supply. This is reflected in the CO2 intensity of electricity production, which has declined in recent years to an average of 462 g CO2/kW · h in 1993 (but there are variations from 1 to 2005 g CO2/kW · h in different OECD countries). The changes in fuel mix that have led to this decline are affected by political, economic, environmental and employment factors as well as by consumer pressure. Electricity policies attempt to simultaneously balance these often conflicting demands. In the case of renewable energy, which almost all OECD Governments are promoting to a greater or lesser extent, a wide range of policies have been put in place. One of the more common policies is a guaranteed market or price for a certain amount of renewable electricity, although voluntary agreements between two or more interested parties are becoming more widespread. However, it is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of different policy mixes, many of which were introduced only recently, because achieving a short term increase in renewable electricity via discrete and/or limited Government support may not be enough to lead to a durable increase in this energy source. The effect of deregulation adds a further uncertainty.

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