By Eric Heyer and Paul Hubert
After falling sharply over the past two years, oil prices have been rising once again since the start of the year. While a barrel came in at around 110 dollars in early 2014 and 31 dollars in early 2016, it is now close to 50 dollars.
Will this rise in oil prices put a question mark over the gradual recovery that seems to have begun in France in 2016?
In a recent study, we attempted to answer three questions about the impact of oil prices on French growth: will a change in oil prices have an immediate effect, or is there a time lag between the change and the impact on GDP? Are the effects of rises and falls in oil prices asymmetrical? And do these effects depend on the business cycle? The main results of our study can be summarized as follows: Continue reading “The effects of the oil counter-shock: The best is yet to come!”
By Sarah Guillou
The recent law on “the energy transition to green growth”, promulgated on 17 August 2015, plans for a fall in nuclear energy’s share of electricity production from 75% to 50% by 2025. It also caps the power of the country’s nuclear plants at 63.2 GW. This limit corresponds to current capacity and implies that any new reactor start-up (Flamanville, for example) must result in the closure of a reactor with equivalent power. The decision to postpone the expected closure of the Fessenheim plant comes under this and is now part of this energy equilibrium. The conditioning of the closure of Fessenheim is provoking discontent among all those who believed in the unconditional pledge of Francois Hollande during his presidential campaign. Continue reading “Areva, Flamanville and Fessenheim: key players in France’s nuclear turn”
By Céline Antonin, Bruno Ducoudré, Hervé Péléraux, Christine Rifflart, Aurélien Saussay
This text is based on the special study of the same name [Pétrole : du carbone pour la croissance, in French] that accompanies the OFCE’s 2015-2016 Forecast for the euro zone and the rest of the world.
The 50% fall in the price of Brent between summer 2014 and January 2015 and its continuing low level over the following months is good news for oil-importing economies. In a context of weak growth, this has resulted in a transfer of wealth to the benefit of the net importing countries through the trade balance, which is stimulating growth and fuelling a recovery. Lower oil prices are boosting household purchasing power and driving a rise in consumption and investment in a context where companies’ production costs are down. This has stimulated exports, with the additional demand from other oil-importing economies more than offsetting the slowdown seen in the exporting economies. Continue reading “Oil: carbon for growth”
By Aurélien Saussay (@aureliensaussay)
The US Bureau of Economic Analysis has just released its estimate of US growth in the first quarter of 2015: at an annual pace of 0.2%, the figure is well below the consensus of the leading American institutes, who had agreed on a forecast of just above 1% – well below the 3% hoped for in early March.
While it is still too early to know the exact reasons for this setback, one factor seems to be emerging: in the United States, the shale oil “revolution” seems to be on the verge of imploding. The sharp fall in crude prices in the second half of 2014 caused a collapse in mining activity: the number of oil rigs operating in the US fell by 56% from November 2014 to April 2015, returning to the level of October 2010 (see chart). The speed of this downturn underscores the fragility of the shale oil boom and its dependence on high oil prices. Continue reading “The US economy at a standstill in Q1 2015: the impact of shale oil”
by Lionel Nesta and Francesco Vona
In contrast with the common belief that competition demands no State intervention, innovation policy and competition complement each other. This is the main conclusion of our investigation concerning innovation in the realm of renewable energy (RE), summarized in the OFCE Briefing Paper, n°8, October 6, 2014. Continue reading “The promotion of renewable energy innovation: when State intervention and competition go hand in hand”
By Sarah Guillou and Evens Salies 
Does the common energy market unduly favour renewable energy sources (“renewables”)? This is the opinion of the nine energy companies that appeared before the European Parliament in September. According to them, meeting the target of having 20% of final energy consumption in the EU come from renewable sources by 2020 would have a negative impact on the electric energy sector, and in particular could harm both the energy companies’ financial results and the security of the electricity supply. There is no denying that since the late 1990s the EU has conducted a very active policy promoting RES in this field. The European Commission (EC) has made numerous suggestions to the Member States about ways to meet the 20% target (see Directive 2009/28/EC), including guaranteed purchase prices for electricity produced from renewable energy sources, tax credits, etc. Moreover, in 2011 this set of measures has enabled the EU-27 to hit a level of 22% of electricity generated from renewables, hydroelectricity included (Eurelectric, 2012) . Continue reading “The energy companies: Green is making them see red”
By Sarah Guillou
In early July 2013, yet another company in the solar industry, Conergy, declared bankruptcy. The departure of this German company, established in 1998, marks the end of a cycle for the solar industry. This bankruptcy adds to a series of closures and liquidations across every country that have highlighted the rising trade tension over solar panels between the United States and Europe on the one hand and China on the other (see OFCE Note 32: “The twilight of the solar industry, the darling of governments”, from 6 September 2013). Continue reading “Solar power is cooling Sino-European relations”
By Evens Saliesa
The challenge facing policy-making on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is not just environmental. It is also necessary to stimulate innovation, a factor in economic growth. Measures to improve energy efficiency  demand high levels of investment to transform the electricity network into a smart grid. Continue reading “Tales from EDF”
By Evens Salies 
Following the first meeting of the Commission mixte paritaire (a joint commission of the two houses of the French Parliament) on the proposed legislation to “make the transition to a sound energy system”, it is important to examine the reasons that led the Senate to adopt a motion on 30 October 2012 to dismiss this bill. This rejection is based on errors of judgment that reflect the difficulty of defining a residential energy pricing that is efficient and fair in light of the government’s objectives to control energy demand. It also seems appropriate to seek clarification of whether the proportional pricing in force needs to be corrected in order to reward energy savings. Continue reading “Valuing energy savings fairly”
Christophe Blot, Marion Cochard, Bruno Ducoudré and Eric Heyer
A look at the latest statistics on price trends indicates that the risk of deflation seems to have given way to renewed inflation in the major developed countries. So do we really need to fear the return of inflation, or are these economies still structurally deflationary? Continue reading “Underlying deflation”