Economics should be open

August 26, 2009

List of european power plants, data sources for electricity generation

Filed under: Carbon Trading, Data Insights, Energy, Open Source — howardchong @ 6:19 pm

I was looking for a list of power plants in Europe in 2008. I didn’t find one. You know why? It just got created in late 2008, and I just found it in 2009.

More beta below the bump.



June 4, 2009

Billing Data and Randomized Experiments in Energy Efficiency Evaluation a research survey

Filed under: California, Data Insights, Energy, Residential — howardchong @ 9:44 pm

I’m doing a research survey of empirical evaluations of energy efficiency using billing data. Much evaluation is done in the laboratory and these estimates are extrapolated to the field. I’m looking at whether field data has been used to test the laboratory assumptions. I found one by Dubin et al from 1986. I review why this is important and other related articles. This is part of my ongoing research so feedback, especially detailed and esoteric knowledge are greatly appreciated.


April 3, 2009

Why Chinese Electric Cars are different

Filed under: China, Data Insights, Energy — howardchong @ 7:10 am

NYTimes just reported that China’s going gangbusters on electric car development:

Are they going to win with stolen foreign patents? Or putting up trade barriers? Or just win with their extremely cheap labor.

Nope. That may be some of it, but one big issue is the price of electricity. Electricity is cheap in China. (more…)

March 11, 2009

Data sources for Residential Energy/Electricity Data in California

Filed under: California, Energy, Residential — howardchong @ 10:32 pm

Perhaps no task is more vexing than doing a data search.

I’ve done a pretty thorough data search, over a several year period, with probably about 80 hours of work in here. The topic is residential energy/electricity data.

I’ve published this as a Google Document. You can access this document here:

February 25, 2009

Rosenfeld, Where Art Thou Rosenfeld?

One of the two famous "Rosenfeld Curves"

So, the above picture is the famous Rosenfeld Curve, showing that Energy Efficiency programs in California are a success. I agree they are a success, but the purpose of this post is to ask, what is the reference for the graph? Who created it? When was it first published? What are the underlying calculations? Does this include gas savings that are then converted to GWH equivalents? Is there a breakdown by utility or city or sector (residential vs commercial?) Are these explained somewhere on some sheet of paper that permits outside review?

So far, this is the best answer I’ve found:  (more…)

January 9, 2009

Electric space heating in Europe, is that what’s causing the spike in electricity usage in Europe in Jan 2009?

Filed under: Energy — howardchong @ 12:59 am

This is an email I sent to a fellow researcher. The gist is that in Europe, electricity demand spikes in winter. But it doesn’t look like electric heating is widely used. So what gives?

I tried to find data on electric space heating versus other fuels sources for Europe. No luck. The US has this data in the RECS (Residential Energy Consumption Survey) database, but nothing useful for the UK. I looked for about 30 minutes.


January 7, 2009

My reading of the Western Climate Initiative Cap and Trade Program Draft Design Recommendations

Filed under: California, Carbon Trading, Energy — Tags: — howardchong @ 12:23 am

At, there is the September 23, 2008 document titled: Design Recommendations for the WCI Regional Cap-and-Trade Program. I found the document fascinating from a policy design perspective. In this blog article, I’m going to highlight three things:

  1. This is the best climate initiative so far, better than the Northeast’s RGGI and Europe’s ETS.
  2. One of the key lynchpins in this initiative is measurement and verification, which I think is a potential critical weak point.
  3. Design Features I find interesting.

Best So Far

The Wstern Climate Initiative (WCI) is the best inititaive so far because it’s aim is to cover 90% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) only covers electricity generation. Europes Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) covers about 46% of GHG’s for the EU and is bigger than RGGI, extending coverage beyond electricity generation to cement, steel, glass, and paper production and *most* facilities that have over 20MW of combustion. (I say *most* because there are some inconsistencies about whether all manufacturing process heat is covered.)

Measurement and Verification
At first, I kinda don’t care if allocation is via auction (what I prefer in the long run) or grandfathering with or without updating. Or whether the cap is set tight or not. The reason is because the first goal of the first period is to get measurement and verification right. Currently, we don’t have a consistent protocol of measuring CO2 at the facility level, even though the measurement should be pretty easy (at least insofar as carbon must be stoichiometrically conserved when fuel is burned). Just measure the fuel inputs.

Don’t assume that this will be easy. We’re talking about tagging and tracking all fuel at some level. Envision an IRS for carbon, the Internal Carbon Service. And there will be arguments about how strict the monitoring and verification needs to be between large plants vs small plants, and whether this should be third party or government verification.

I’m not quite sure how measurement and verification has succeeded in other programs. I *think* the SO2 and NOX markets succeeded very well because they put constant emissions monitoring systems at industrial facilities. I’m not sure if there are any cost/technological impediments to doing this for CO2, but I would imagine it won’t be done. In the EU, they haven’t done emissions monitoring and instead use guidelines on how to estimate CO2 from fuel burn. Though they are currently reviewing their standards (currently each country sets its own standards). Lastly, the California Public Utilities Commissions (CPUC) has been implementing a measurement and verification program around demand side management (aka, utility initiated energy saving programs). The idea is that utilities will be paid extra for meeting energy savings goals. Though a big problem there is that energy savings are estimated and estimated using formulas much worse than fuel-burn. We’ll see how that goes. That program is also in it’s first cycle.

And if we extend to CO2E (E=equivalent) it will be even more of a pain in the ass. Do you use average values of emissions/unit-product by sector or actually measure?

Design Features I find interesting
I apologize, but my original post got cut off and I lost my other notes so I can’t quite remember what I found most interesting.

I think one interesting feature is that they allow banking but not borrowing. Ask me and I’ll look at it again to remind myself.

December 9, 2008

Polish Heat and Power

Filed under: Energy — Tags: , — howardchong @ 1:01 am

I was looking at International Energy Agency (IEA) stats on Electricity Generation. For most countries, an average of 90% of electricity is produced by electricity-only plants. But in Poland, 91% is produced by combined heat and power (CHP).

I thought this must be a mistake, but this excerpt from a googled site shows otherwise:

“Heat and hot water
The district heating sector in Poland comprises almost 400 individual networks, including the world’s largest district heating network in Warsaw. Of Poland’s urban population, 70% receive space-heat and 50% receive hot water from district heating systems. The sector is powered by a total of over 8,000 boilers, and delivers about 488 PJ (petajoules) of heat each year, at a peak rate of 45 GW. Out of this total heat production, approximately 170 PJ is produced within, and used by industrial enterprises.”
(source:, accessed 08 DEC, 2008 )

Wow! What does this mean? It means that instead of every house having it’s own water heater, there is a big chunk of Poland that gets it’s hot water from a central plant. Instead of everyone having their own heater, some people also get heat piped in from a central heating plant.

December 2, 2008

MS Access Tables to Stata, for Residential Energy Consumption Survey

Problem: To convert MS Access tables (of the EIA Residential Energy Consumption Survey 1997 data) to CSV files for STATA import

This is also a general script for converting MS Tables to CSVs

Solution: Wrote a VBA script


  1. Open MS Access
  2. Tools | Macros | Visual Basic Editor
  3. Create a new module on your database by doing: Right Clickon database | Insert | Module
  4. Copy the following text (without the line numbers)
    1. Sub ExportAllTablesCsv()
    2. Dim dbMyDB As Database
    3. Set dbMyDB = OpenDatabase(“recs97_converted.mdb”)
    4.     For Each tdfCurrent In dbMyDB.TableDefs
    5.         fileoutname = “C:\” & tdfCurrent.Name & “.csv”
    6.         If Left(tdfCurrent.Name, 2) <> “MS” Then
    7.             DoCmd.TransferText acExportDelim, , tdfCurrent.Name, fileoutname, TRUE
    8.         End If
    10.     Next
    11. End Sub
  5. For your customization:
    1. change your mdb file to your mdb file
    2. The If statement (line 10) is there to deal with the fact that there are certain system tables that I needed to skip. None of my tables started with “MS”, so this was a simple non-general fix.
    3. If you look up help for TransferText it has a SpecificationName. I left that argument blank. You can change to tabs or other things using that.
    4. I had trouble with getting column headings, but jwhite at showed me the light. This code now gives column headings with the TRUE argument.  For more details, check out

If you can think of a better solution, I’d love your thoughts!

Other possible/failed solutions:

  • I tried running a query that joined all the tables with the EIA ID Num as the key for each table. Though this was easy, I got the “too many fields” error.
  • I think there is a way to use SQL (or something???) to select all the tables and write them and to import those into another program. STATA, to my limited knowledge, doesn’t do SQL. 
  • STATA supposedly does XML. One can use TransferText to write XML too. I don’t know XML well enough to try it.

Any comment appreciated.





September 23, 2008

Comparing California and European Electricity Prices

Filed under: California, Energy — howardchong @ 7:02 pm

Just doing some looking into California’s brand new energy plan that came out today. (

I did a little digging and have found that wholesale prices are up about 40% in California compared to about 250% in Europe. This is wholesale, so it’s before taxes, etc. However, carbon taxes (and other input price taxes) do go into these numbers, as does EU carbon cap and trade program.

In my estimation, real change that isn’t mandate driven is gonna come from increases in the price of electricity. Europe looks like it’s done real change driven by treating energy as a scarce resource. We’ve escaped this in terms of electricity, though there are exceptions like Hawaii, Maine, and Alaska.

Note, however, that it’s not a completely apples-to-apples comparison. I am using Powernext (France) futures data for a quarterly contract and CA average wholesale prices reported by the Energy Information Agency (EIA). Notably, the volatility of CA is because it is a spot price. But as a comparison of levels, it is really illuminating.

What’s the difference? Hard to say. It could be an input price story, but a check at the most recent Sept 2008 World Bank Pink Sheet (google it) doesn’t show much of a difference in the price of Nat Gas across continents. The clearing wholesale price reflects the price of the marginal electricity generator: in both countries this should be natural gas.

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