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Title: The growth, regulation and environmental impact of green electricity tariffs
Author: MacDonald, Scott
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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In many retail electricity markets consumers are able to choose to purchase a green tariff, where the kWh consumed are matched by their retailer with electricity generated from renewable sources. These tariffs are sold to consumers as a way to reduce their own carbon footprints and as a way to help fight climate change. This thesis asks "what is the role of green electricity tariffs in reducing carbon emissions?" The question is answered by exploring the growth, regulation and environmental impact of markets for voluntary green electricity tariffs through four related areas: •Chapter four undertakes an international comparison of markets for green electricity tariffs. Variation in enrolment levels is measured, which is then explained in reference to macro level variables including the regulatory environment, market competition and the types of supplier operating. •Chapter five looks at one mechanism to increase consumer engagement with retail electricity markets, digital third-party intermediaries, and explores potential tradeoffs with the ability for consumers to discover and switch to green electricity tariffs. •Chapter six uses a consumer survey to explore attitudes towards the environmental benefit of green electricity products. A census of the 'additionality' contributions made by retailers is undertaken to analyse whether the products available on the market meet consumers' expectations. •Chapter seven outlines the causal mechanisms whereby consumer demand for green tariffs translates into lowered carbon emissions, using a mixed methods approach. The research highlights the importance of understanding the retail market context of green electricity tariffs, as enrolment is found to be affected by levels of competition in the market. It is also possible that increased use of intermediaries may present a challenge for the future green tariff market growth. An assessment of the environmental benefit finds that the green tariffs available in the UK have a negligible impact on lowering carbon emissions, with consumer research also suggesting that the tariffs currently on the market are not meeting customers' expectations.
Supervisor: Eyre, Nick ; Darby, Sarah Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Energy policy