Karen Fisher-Vanden

Department of Agric. Economics and Rural Soc.
112-E Armsby Building
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org

NBER Working Papers and Publications

July 2015Should We Give Up After Solyndra? Optimal Technology R&D Portfolios under Uncertainty
with Mort Webster, David Popp, Nidhi Santen: w21396
Global climate change and other environmental challenges require the development of new energy technologies with lower emissions. In the near-term, R&D investments, either by government or the private sector, can bring down the costs of these lower emission technologies. However, the results of R&D are uncertain, and there are many potential technologies that may turn out to play an effective role in the future energy mix. In this paper, we address the problem of allocating R&D across technologies under uncertainty. Specifically, given two technologies, one with lower costs at present, but the other with greater uncertainty in the returns to R&D, how should one allocate the R&D budget? We develop a multi-stage stochastic dynamic programming version of an integrated assessment model of...

Published: Mort Webster & Karen Fisher-Vanden & David Popp & Nidhi Santen, 2017. "Should We Give Up after Solyndra? Optimal Technology R&D Portfolios under Uncertainty," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol 4(S1), pages S123-S151.

January 2012Technology Variation vs. R&D Uncertainty: What Matters Most for Energy Patent Success?
with David Popp, Nidhi Santen, Mort Webster: w17792
R&D is an uncertain activity with highly skewed outcomes. Nonetheless, most recent empirical studies and modeling estimates of the potential of technological change focus on the average returns to research and development (R&D) for a composite technology and contain little or no information about the distribution of returns to R&D--which could be important for capturing the range of costs associated with climate change mitigation policies--by individual technologies. Through an empirical study of patent citation data, this paper adds to the literature on returns to energy R&D by focusing on the behavior of the most successful innovations for six energy technologies, allowing us to determine whether uncertainty or differences in technologies matter most for success. We highlight two key ...

Published: David Popp & Nidhi Santen & Karen Fisher-Vanden & Mort Webster, 2013. "Technology variation vs. R&D uncertainty: What matters most for energy patent success?," Resource and Energy Economics, vol 35(4), pages 505-533.

Costly Blackouts? Measuring Productivity and Environmental Effects of Electricity Shortages
with Erin T. Mansur, Qiong (Juliana) Wang: w17741
In many countries, unreliable inputs, particularly those lacking storage, can significantly limit a firm's productivity. In the case of an increasing frequency of blackouts, a firm may change factor shares in a number of ways. It may decide to self generate electricity, to purchase intermediate goods that it used to produce directly, or to improve its technical efficiency. We examine how industrial firms responded to China's severe power shortages in the early 2000s. Fast-growing demand coupled with regulated electricity prices led to blackouts that varied in degree over location and time. Our data consist of annual observations from 1999 to 2004 for approximately 32,000 energy-intensive, enterprises from all industries. We estimate the losses in productivity due to factor-neutral and fact...
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