Great Britain’s carbon emissions from electricity generation fell by two-thirds between 2012 and 2019, providing an important example for other nations. This rapid transition was driven by a complex interplay of policies and events: investment in renewable generation, closure of coal power stations, raising carbon prices and energy efficiency measures. Previous studies of the impact of these simultaneous individual measures miss their interactions with each other and with exogenous changes in fuel prices and the weather. Here we use Shapley values, a concept from cooperative game theory, to disentangle these and precisely attribute outcomes (CO2 saved, changes to electricity prices and fossil fuel consumption) to individual drivers. We find the effectiveness of each driver remained stable despite the transformation seen over the 7 years we study. The four main drivers each saved 19–29 MtCO2 per year in 2019, reinforcing the view that there is no ‘silver bullet’, and a multi-faceted approach to deep decarbonisation is essential.
Excerpt from the introduction:
In a 2019 Issues Paper under its Transmission Pricing Review, the Electricity Authority of New Zealand set out a framework for efficient electricity system investment, cost allocation, and pricing. The basic design accords with beneficiary-pays principles. The challenges of transmission investment preclude pure market approaches and require consistency across both competitive and monopoly elements of the system. In comments on the Authority’s proposal, submissions of some parties include critiques or alternative recommendations that appeal to implicit assumptions inconsistent with the basic requirements of the technology and associated electricity market components. Although perfection is only possible under narrow conditions, the Authority’s framework provides a careful balance that adheres to first principles and can accommodate workable implementation.