Influence of rising commodity prices on energy policy

May 26, 2009 | 00:00

Influence of rising commodity prices on energy policy

During the past few years we have first witnessed a rapid increase in the prices of commodities and then later, as a consequence of the economic downturn, an even more drastic drop. Simultaneously with the commodity price increase, an increase in the investment costs of power plants was experienced. The rise in material costs was often stated as one of the reason for this increase. In this study the relationship between commodity costs and energy prices is studied.

A bottom-up approach is used for estimating what kind of an impact increased commodity prices alone could be expected to have on the investment costs on the one hand, and how increased energy prices may affect commodity production costs on the other. The results indicate that although the commodity production costs usually have a fairly large energy component, even high increases in commodity prices, and therefore raw material costs of power plant investments, can not explain the recently experienced hikes in power plant investment costs; a doubling of the costs of the main raw material flows could explain an investment cost increase of some 5-10%, depending on the power plant type. This would seem to indicate that other contributing factors, such as bottle necks in the production of power plant components, may play an important role in the recent investment cost increase.

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