Mar Reguant delivers BSE Opening Lecture 2023-24

Mar Reguant presents in the UAB Rectorat Aula Magna

Professor Reguant gave students a peek inside the toolbox that economists use for methodical cost-benefit analysis of transitioning electricity markets to renewable energy sources.

The Barcelona School of Economics celebrated the official start of the 2023-24 academic year on September 28 at Bellaterra Campus (UAB) with an Opening Lecture by Professor Mar Reguant (ICREA-IAE-CSIC and BSE) on the topic, “The Economics of the Energy Transition: Evaluating the Impact of Renewable Power.”

This was the second of two events that welcomed the new cohort of BSE Master's students to both campuses where BSE courses are conducted. The first event, held at Ciutadella Campus (UPF), included orientation activities and course registration. 

The event at Bellaterra Campus included the Opening Lecture by Professor Reguant as well as an exhibition of "castells" or human towers, a Catalan tradition that reflects the spirit of collaboration students find during their year at BSE.

See more photos from BSE welcome events at both campuses on Flickr

“The Economics of the Energy Transition: Evaluating the Impact of Renewable Power”

In her lecture, Professor Reguant used examples from her research on wind power in Spain and solar power in Chile to give students an overview of a few types of methodical cost-benefit analysis that economists can perform to evaluate the impact of incorporating renewable energy sources into the electricity market. 

In Spain, Reguant and her team used regression analysis of hourly operational data, such as congestion to determine that the ultimate cost to the consumer of adding wind energy to Spain's electricity market was not as high as engineers had originally estimated. 

In Chile, the researchers performed an event study around the construction of a solar power transmission line from the Atacama Desert and took advantage of the country's unique "linear" geography to conduct a structural analysis of its power grid. With this analysis, the team was able to identify investment effects that were key to justifying the cost of the new infrastructure.

This lecture was based on two of Reguant's very latest papers, one of which was published this year in the top journal Econometrica.

Video: BSE Opening Lecture for Academic Year 2023-24

Related papers by Mar Reguant:

"Measuring the Impact of Wind Power and Intermittency," with Claire Petersen and Lola Segura, revise and resubmit at Energy Economics.

"The Investment Effects of Market Integration: Evidence from Renewable Energy Expansion in Chile," with Luis Gonzales and Koichiro Ito, Econometrica, 91(5): 1659-1693, 2023.

Watch the Opening Lecture on the BSE YouTube channel

While Professor Reguant is the founder and director of the BSE Master's Program in the Economics of Energy, Climate Change, and Sustainability, she made sure during the lecture to point out techniques and tools that will be important for students in other Master's programs.

For example, Reguant and her team used k-means clustering to identify the geographical regions to use in their analysis of the Chilean electricity market. This is a machine learning method that Data Science students will likely find on their course syllabus sometime this year.

During an exchange with students after the lecture, one of them asked Professor Reguant about the differences between presenting research to academics and to policymakers. 

"It's very difficult, to be honest," Reguant said. "When I'm an academic, I'm very prudent on how I make my statements, but if you are that prudent in front of a policymaker they will not listen to you, so you have to state your best guess without too many caveats."

As a cautionary tale, she shared an anecdote from her work with the California Resources Board in the United States, when a stray footnote intended for researchers ended up in a public presentation, ultimately affecting the outcome of a vote on the state's new cap-and-trade legislation.

To hear Professor Reguant's responses to all questions from students, watch the video of the Opening Lecture.

Above all, Reguant wanted to emphasize that renewables are a bright spot in the energy policy discussion that students can get excited about. "I hope we'll continue to talk about these big issues going forward," she told them.

About Mar Reguant

Mar Reguant (PhD, MIT) is ICREA Researcher at the Institute for Economic Analysis (IAE-CSIC) and an Affiliated Professor of the Barcelona School of Economics (BSE). 

Before joining IAE-CSIC, Professor Reguant was a BSE Research Fellow and Professor at Northwestern University, where she is still a part-time professor. She has also taught at Stanford GSB and Toulouse School of Economics.

Mar Reguant is one of the most recognized researchers in the field of the economics of energy, with an emphasis on electricity and the pollution associated with electricity generation. She has published extensively in top academic journals, and she is currently engaged in an ambitious research project financed by a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant, the most prestigious grant at the EU level. 

Professor Reguant also dedicates part of her time to offering guidance on energy and environmental policy around the world. As an example, she has been part of a group of 26 experts guiding France's President Emmanuel Macron on Great Economic Challenges, where she was co-leader of the group on Climate Change.

She is also active in the local community, trying to foster efficient management of the electricity market and faster development of renewable energy.

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