AuthorKokoza, Anatolii V.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMy dissertation considers three important aspects of energy and environmental economics: integration of renewable energy into the electricity grid, health impacts of oil and natural gas extraction, and a model of traffic dynamics that permits hypercongestion to arise. In my first chapter, I investigate the benefits and costs of geographically differentiating subsidies for rooftop solar photovoltaic systems. I estimate the intermittency costs of solar and subsidy spending required to achieve a given target by combining a model of the residential solar installation decision with a model of a system operator managing the region's electric grid. I find that offering the subsidy to a broader range of areas, rather than concentrating subsidies in the sunniest areas, reduces both intermittency costs and subsidy spending. I also find that differentiating subsidies to target the sunniest sites can reduce the subsidy spending needed to meet a solar generation target by over 5%. These savings are greater than the additional intermittency costs imposed by concentrating installations in the sunniest areas. Finally, I find there there is more to gain from differentiating subsidies in climatically and demographically diverse areas. In my second chapter, written with Wesley Blundell, we consider the health impacts of natural gas and oil extraction in North Dakota. In particular we focus on the health impacts of natural gas flaring, which is the combustion of unprocessed natural gas at wells. Flaring results in the combustion of various contaminants and complex hydrocarbons which leads to local air pollution. We focus on hospital visits related to respiratory and cardiovascular ailments. We find an effect of natural gas flaring on respiratory hospital admittances for zip codes within 30 and 60 miles of wells, but the effect diminishes at 90 and 120 miles. We also do not find any significant effects on cardiovascular visits, which are less likely to be exacerbated by air pollution. We also perform a placebo test using hospital admittances due to trauma in which we do not find any impact of natural gas flaring. My third chapter, written with Richard Arnott and Mehdi Naji, considers a top priority in transportation economics: the development of a model of rush-hour traffic dynamics that incorporate hypercongestion -- situations of heavy congestion where throughput decreases as traffic density increases. Unfortunately, even the simplest models along these lines appear in general to be analytically intractable, and none of the models that have made approximations in order to achieve tractability has gained widespread acceptance. We take a different tack, developing an analytical solution for a special case -- a no-toll equilibrium in an isotropic downtown area with identical commuters, the Greenshields' congestion technology, and the α - β cost function with no late arrivals permitted.
Degree ProgramGraduate College