• Primary Program Climate and Environment
  • Research Interests Energy and climate economics and policy, energy efficiency, energy productivity, technology, innovation, finance, investment, industrial policy and sustainable development

Biography

Nicholas is an applied economist specializing in economic growth, energy and natural resource and environmental economics. He is currently leading KAPSARC research on energy productivity and is a subject matter expert on energy efficiency, industrial strategy and energy pricing with KAPSARC Advisory. He has received several awards for his published work, including recognition for his first book on carbon markets by the American benchmarking journal Choice as a top 25 academic publication in the category of economics in 2010.

Nicholas is an experienced policy advisory, thought leader and project manager with strengths in interdisciplinary issues and applied policy gained from working as a ministerial adviser in Australia and in a variety of international roles. He is also an experienced lecturer and public speaker on energy productivity, green growth and sustainable development and has presented work at a range of technical and policy fora including meetings of the International Association of Energy Economists and in support of the G20 Energy and Sustainability Working Group and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals processes.

Publications

See all Nicholas’s publications
  • Discussion papers
  • Methodology paper
  • Report
  • KAPSARC journal articles
  • External journal articles
Toward Economic Prosperity Through Industrial Energy Productivity Improvement

Toward Economic Prosperity Through Industrial Energy Productivity Improvement

In this report, we explore the main trends and policies that relate to industrial energy productivity in China and Saudi Arabia, focusing on energy efficiency, structural economic reform, industrial upgrading and energy pricing. Our objective is to increase shared understanding on these issues as both countries deepen their engagement as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

February 19, 2018
Growth Through Diversification and Energy Efficiency: Energy Productivity in Saudi Arabia

Growth Through Diversification and Energy Efficiency: Energy Productivity in Saudi Arabia

With domestic energy demand in Saudi Arabia expected to potentially double by 2030, managing the relationship between energy consumption and economic growth will be very important for the Kingdom’s sustainable development. To assist in this task, this report recommends using energy productivity as an indicator and policy framework to help inform policymakers as to where and how the most value can be achieved from energy use.

November 24, 2017
Growth, Investment and the Low-Carbon Transition: A View From Saudi Arabia

Growth, Investment and the Low-Carbon Transition: A View From Saudi Arabia

A common priority across G20 countries is the need to reinvigorate economies through an economic transformation that delivers a higher level of better quality growth. At KAPSARC, the need to improve economic growth and deliver climate goals agreed at COP21 in Paris is being investigated using an energy productivity framework, or how greater value can be obtained from the energy system for each unit of energy consumed.

August 31, 2017
Evaluating Building Energy Efficiency Investment Options for Saudi Arabia

Evaluating Building Energy Efficiency Investment Options for Saudi Arabia

This study suggests that energy efficiency programs in buildings can provide up to a 27 percent reduction in electricity consumption and a 30 percent reduction in peak electricity demand for Saudi Arabia. It is well recognized, however, that given the low electricity prices in Saudi Arabia there is little incentive for households and businesses to invest in energy efficiency. On the other hand, when system-wide benefits of energy efficiency investments are included their value is much higher, especially from the government’s perspective. These wider benefits include the reduced need for new electricity generation capacity investment, reduced carbon emissions and new employment opportunities.

October 26, 2016
Energy Productivity as a New Growth Model for GCC Countries

Energy Productivity as a New Growth Model for GCC Countries

Following the collapse in oil prices, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have intensified efforts to find a new growth model which increases the welfare of their citizens, while reducing exposure to volatile energy markets. This paper argues that placing energy productivity at the heart of such a new growth paradigm offers a compelling path forward to strengthen economic diversification, energy efficiency and innovation efforts.

October 18, 2016
Investing for Energy Productivity in the GCC – Financing the Transition

Investing for Energy Productivity in the GCC – Financing the Transition

An unprecedented infrastructure investment boom occurred in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the first part of the 21st century. Strong public capital spending supported by high energy prices provided governments with an opportunity to accelerate economic diversification and infrastructure investment, lifting economic growth and per capita incomes. The 2014 collapse in oil prices created an added impetus for a transition to a more sustainable growth model less dependent on volatile energy markets. Here we make the case for a greater focus on energy productive investment to drive this transition.

September 2, 2016
Managing China’s energy productivity potential: what lessons for policy makers

Managing China’s energy productivity potential: what lessons for policy makers

Maximizing the economic welfare extracted from the energy system is a key priority for all governments. This can be measured by a country’s energy productivity. Perhaps nowhere else in the world is this issue more salient than in China. China is the world’s largest energy consumer and has led global economic growth in the first part of the twenty-first century. Furthermore, in the interconnected world we live in, decisions in China have global impacts. In periods of some of its fastest growth (from 2002-2005) China experienced declining energy productivity. In 2006, China put in place ambitious energy intensity targets. Combined with policies at the sector and product level, these contributed to China reversing its falling energy productivity. Building on this success, China’s 12th Five Year Plan, extended and deepened these reforms. But within China’s system of provincial and industrial energy intensity targets there is a blind spot which could reduce the potential welfare gain from these plans. Assessing the embodied energy in interprovincial trade reveals these potential gains and provides the information required to encourage regional practices to align better with national objectives. The response from Chinese policymakers to the challenges of building new infrastructure while managing resource and environmental constraints provides a valuable lesson for governments in rapidly developing countries, such as Saudi Arabia. A summary of key lessons from the Chinese experience of managing energy productivity is presented in the conclusion.

October 6, 2014
Estimating the Multiple Benefits of Building Energy Efficiency in GCC Countries Using an Energy Productivity Framework

Estimating the Multiple Benefits of Building Energy Efficiency in GCC Countries Using an Energy Productivity Framework

This report quantifies the direct and key indirect benefits of energy efficiency investment in buildings in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. It summarizes the key insights from individual country studies conducted as part of KAPSARC’s energy productivity project. This analysis indicates that a strong case can be made for public energy efficiency programs that would encourage building owners to invest in the socially optimal amount of energy efficiency: Driven by population growth, rapid development and low domestic energy prices, energy consumption from buildings across the GCC has risen by over 200% on average since 2000 in both absolute and per capita terms, posing sustainability concerns. Even with the GCC’s relatively low electricity prices, the most basic energy efficiency investment options such as programmable thermostats, LED lighting and stopping air leakage have payback periods of less than five years for the consumer. Some energy efficiency retrofits, including more efficient air-conditioners and replacing windows and insulation, have longer paybacks periods. The investment case for increasingly ambitious energy efficiency actions becomes more compelling once the broader system benefits are included, such as reducing the need for new electricity generation capacity, avoided carbon emissions and creating new jobs and investment. A deep energy efficiency retrofit has a payback period for investors of between 11 and 70 years, depending on electricity prices; by incorporating the wider system benefits, this payback period improves to between 7 and 23 years on average across the GCC. This analysis provides a strong case for public energy efficiency programs, without which building owners are unlikely to invest in the socially optimal amount of energy efficiency.  

January 14, 2019
Achieving growth in Saudi Arabia and China through joint leadership on industrial energy productivity

Achieving growth in Saudi Arabia and China through joint leadership on industrial energy productivity

IPEEC Bulletin

2017
The implications of carbon dioxide and methane exchange for the heavy mitigation RCP2.6 scenario under two metrics

The implications of carbon dioxide and methane exchange for the heavy mitigation RCP2.6 scenario under two metrics

Environmental Science and Policy

2015
Straded Assets in Agriculture: Protecting value from environment-related risks

Straded Assets in Agriculture: Protecting value from environment-related risks

Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment Stranded Assets Program, University of Oxford

2013
Institutional investors and green infrastructure investments

Institutional investors and green infrastructure investments

OECD Working Papers on Insurance and Private Pensions, OECD Publishing

2013
Clean energy technology and the role of non-carbon price-based policy: An evolutionary economics perspective

Clean energy technology and the role of non-carbon price-based policy: An evolutionary economics perspective

European Planning Studies

2011
Carbon Markets: An international business guide

Carbon Markets: An international business guide

Earthscan

2010

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