Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Thomas W. Hertel

Committee Chair

Thomas W. Hertel

Committee Member 1

Wally Tyner

Committee Member 2

Paul Preckel

Committee Member 3

Joseph Pekny


The electricity sector plays a crucial role in the global economy. The sector is a major consumer of fossil fuel resources, producer of greenhouse gas emissions, and an important indicator and correlate of economic development. As such, the sector is a primary target for policy-makers seeking to address these issues. The sector is also experiencing rapid technological change in generation (e.g. renewables), primary inputs (e.g. horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing), and end-use efficiency. This dissertation seeks to further our understanding of the role of the electricity sector as part of the dynamic global energy-economy, which requires significant research advances in both database construction and modeling techniques. Chapter 2 identifies useful engineering-level data and presents a novel matrix balancing method for integrating these data in global economic databases. Chapter 3 demonstrates the relationship between matrix balancing method and modeling results, and Chapter 4 presents the full construction methodology for GTAP-Power, the foremost, publicly-available global computable general equilibrium database. Chapter 5 presents an electricity-detailed computational equilibrium model that explicitly and endogenously captures capacity utilization, capacity expansion, and their interdependency -- important aspects of technological substitution in the electricity sector. The individual, but interrelated, research contributions to database construction and electricity modeling in computational equilibrium are placed in the context of analyzing the US EPA Clean Power Plan (CPP) CO 2 target of 32 percent reduction of CO2 emissions in the US electricity sector from a 2005 baseline by 2030. Assuming current fuel prices, the model predicts an almost 28 percent CO2 reduction without further policy intervention. Next, a carbon tax and investment subsidies for renewable technologies to meet the CPP full targets are imposed and compared (Chapter 6). The carbon tax achieves the target via both utilization and expansion, while the renewable investment subsidies lead to over-expansion and compromises some of the possibilities via utilization. In doing so, this dissertation furthers our understanding of the role of the electricity sector as part of the dynamic global energy-economy.