Monetization of policy costs and sustainability benefits associated with renewable energy in fossil fuel-rich countries (FFRCs)

Vahid Ghorbani Pashakolaie, Kiomars Heydari, Alberto Almena

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The electricity sector in Middle Eastern fossil fuel-rich countries (FFRCs) is characterised by the high electricity
subsidies that result in a large price gap between Feed-in Tariffs (FiT) and consumer electricity prices, which
inhibits electricity generation from renewable energy sources (RES-E). Meanwhile, RES-E development could
reduce GHG emissions, allow fossil fuel to be sustainably commercialised or processed, and save water consumption in thermal power plants as an alternative solution in FFRCs. This study aimed at monetarizing those
benefits and evaluating the performance of RES-E policy in a FFRCs framework by defining the benefit-cost ratio
as a sustainability indicator, considering Iran as a case study scenario. Results showed that the FiT purchase price
was seven times higher than the average consumer price of electricity, which implied a $US 345 million cost for
renewable energy support during the 2009–2019 time window. Conversely, benefits from the use of renewable
energy were estimated in $US 68 million. The resulting benefit-cost ratio of RES-E policy was found to be 0.2,
which indicates that FiT policy was inefficient and only 20% of the expenditure could be recovered. To make
RES-E policies more efficient and foster renewable energy deployment, limiting the electricity subsidy that
widens the price gap between FiT and market price has been suggested. Furthermore, carbon price was identified
to have high impact on the benefit-cost ratio indicator. A policy framework setting a 100 $US/t CO2 would
balance RES-E policy costs and benefits. This evidence could aid in decision-making for RES-E implementation in
Original languageEnglish
Article number100271
JournalEnvironmental and Sustainability Indicators
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2023


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