This paper investigates whether an inefficient allocation of abatement due to constraints on the use of currently available low carbon mitigation options can promote innovation in new technologies and have a positive impact on welfare. We focus on the case of a nuclear power phase-out and endogenous technical change in energy efficiency and alternative low carbon technologies. The research is inspired by the re-thinking about nuclear power deployment which took place in some countries, especially in Western Europe, after the Fukushima accident in March 2011. The analysis uses an Integrated Assessment Model, WITCH, which features multiple externalities related to greenhouse gas emissions and innovation market failures. Our results show that phasing out nuclear power stimulates R&D investments and deployment of technologies with large learning potential. The resulting technology benefits that would not otherwise occur due to intertemporal and international externalities almost completely offset the economic costs of foregoing nuclear power. The extent of technology benefits depends on the stringency of the climate policy and is distributed unevenly across countries.
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