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Decision-making behavior of private households in the energy-relevant areas “housing” and “mobility”

Doktorand/in: Martin Achtnicht

Betreuer: Prof. Dr. Reinhard Madlener

Starttermin: abgeschlossen

Kurzdarstellung

In the light of climate change and dwindling fossil energy resources relevant decisions of economic agents have been a major topic in political and academic debates in recent years. Concerning private households, the areas “housing” and “mobility” are currently the primary focus of policy and academia. This doctoral research by Martin Achtnicht of ZEW Mannheim aims at improving the understanding of the individual preferences of private households and the resulting decisions and choices regarding individual mobility and energy use in dwellings.

Motorized individual transport strongly contributes to global CO2 emissions, due to its intensive usage of fossil fuels. In order to reduce both oil dependency and CO2 emissions, the EU aims at increasing fuel efficiency of cars and substituting traditional automotive fuels by “greener” alternatives, such as biofuels, LPG/CNG, hydrogen, or electricity. Part of the EU’s strategy is a regulation which sets emission performance standards for new passenger cars registered in the EU. Given the EU’s objectives and strategy, it is however crucial to provide sufficient refueling infrastructure for car drivers. In this doctoral research a choice experiment concerning car choices was conducted Germany-wide. Based on the survey data, the impact of fuel availability on the demand for alternative-fuel vehicles is studied econometrically. Using a discrete choice model, choice probabilities for passenger cars running on alternative fuels depending on the size of the underlying service station network are simulated. Moreover, this research provides evidence that CO2 emissions per kilometer is a relevant attribute in car choices and derives related willingness-to-pay (WTP) estimates.

Due to the high energy demand for electricity and heating, the residential building sector is also a major emitter of the greenhouse gas CO2, particularly in industrialized countries. Given the EU ETS, decentralized heat generation is of particular relevance for future climate policy in the EU. Unlike electricity and district heating, emissions arising from decentralized heat generation are not covered by the EU ETS. Therefore, measures to save heat energy in residential buildings are likely to result in effective CO2 abatement and not just in a shift of emissions. In order to know house owners' preferences on heating and insulation technologies and to learn more about their decisions a further choice experiment was conducted, this time concerning energy retrofits for existing houses in Germany. In contrast to previous studies, both cost and environmental benefits of energy-saving measures were explicitly included in this research. Environmental benefits are found to have a significant impact on choices of heating systems. However, they play no role in terms of insulation choices. In addition, substantial WTP measures for CO2 savings are obtained.