Few papers by young academics have been as influential on energy economics as ‘The Allocation of Energy Resources’ by William Nordhaus (1973). To me, the influence of Nordhaus' work causes mixed feelings. His ‘backstop technology’ concept is a source of inspiration. Although mainly used as keystone to seal his model, his square choice for nuclear power as backstop supply was unfounded. The enduring influence of ‘econometric-engineering’ models on public energy policy-makers often precludes a necessary broader decision-making approach.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.


Agora Energiewende. (2013). 12 Insights on Germany's Energiewende. Retrieved from http://www.agora-energiewende.de
American Nuclear Society. (2001). Generation IV Roadmap: Fuel Cycle Crosscut Group. Winter Meeting Reno. Retrieved from http://gif.inel.gov/roadmap/pdfs/fuel_cycles.pdf
Arrow, K. J., & Fisher, A. C. (1974). Environmental preservation, uncertainty, and irreversibility. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 88, 312–319.
Daly, H. E. (1973, 1980). Economics, ecology, ethics: Essays toward a steady-state economy. San Francisco, CA: W.H. Freeman and Company.
Dixit, A. K., & Pindyck, R. S. (1994). Investment under uncertainty. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Ethics Commission on a Safe Energy Supply. (2011). Germany's energy turnaround: A collective effort for the future. Berlin: Ethics Commission on a Safe Energy Supply.
Freeman, D., Baldwin, P., Canfield, M., Carhart, S., Davidson, J., Dunkerley, J., Eddy, C., Gillman, K., Makhijani, A., Saulter, K., Sheridan, D., & Williams, R. (1974). A time to choose: America's energy future. Cambridge, MA: Energy Policy Project of the Ford Foundation, Ballinger Publishing Company.
Grübler, A. (2010). The costs of the French nuclear scale-up: A case of negative learning by doing. Energy Policy, 38, 5174–5188. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.05.003
IEA. (2013). World energy outlook. Paris: International Energy Agency.
IPCC. (2012). Renewable energy sources and climate change mitigation. Working Group III Special Report. Retrieved from http://www.ipcc.ch
IPCC. (2014). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group III ‘Mitigation of Climate Change’. Retrieved from http://www.ipcc.ch
Kolstad, C. D. (1996). Fundamental irreversibilities in stock externalities. Journal of Public Economics, 60, 221–233. doi:10.1016/0047-2727(95)01521-3
Lind, R.C., Arrow, K.J., Corey, G.R., Dasgupta, P., Sen, A.K., Stauffer, T., Stiglitz, J.E., Stockfisch, J.A., & Wilson, R. (1982). Discounting for time and risk in energy policy. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.
Lovins, A. B. (1977). Soft energy paths: Towards a durable peace. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
Manne, A. S., & Richels, R. G. (1991). Buying greenhouse insurance. Energy Policy, 19(6), 543–552. doi:10.1016/0301-4215(91)90034-L
Nordhaus, W. (1973). The allocation of energy resources. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 3, 529–576.
Nordhaus, W. (2013). The climate casino: Risk, uncertainty, and economics for a warming world. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.
Portney, P. R., & Weyant, J. P. (eds). (1999). Discounting and intergenerational equity. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.
Verbruggen, A. (2006). Electricity intensity backstop level to meet sustainable backstop supply technologies. Energy Policy, 34, 1310–1317. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2005.12.007
Verbruggen, A. (2008). Renewable and nuclear power: A common future? Energy Policy, 36, 4036–4047. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2008.06.024
Verbruggen, A., Laes, E., & Lemmens, S. (2014). Assessment of the actual sustainability of nuclear fission power. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 32, 16–28. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2014.01.008
WCED. (1987). Our common future. World commission on environment and development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Weitzman, M. (1992, May). On diversity. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 107, 363–405. doi:10.2307/2118476.