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Rentschler, Jun

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Economics of Development, Environment, and Climate
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Last updated: November 16, 2023
Biography
Jun Rentschler is a Senior Economist at the Office of the Chief Economist for Sustainable Development, working at the intersection of climate change and sustainable resilient development. Prior to joining The World Bank in 2012, he served as an Economic Adviser at the German Foreign Ministry. He also spent two years at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) working on private sector investment projects in resource efficiency and climate change. Before that he worked on projects with Grameen Microfinance Bank in Bangladesh and the Partners for Financial Stability Program by USAID in Poland. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Payne Institute for Public Policy, following previous affiliations with the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies and the Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. Jun holds a PhD in Economics from University College London (UCL), specializing in development, climate, and energy.
Citations 78 Scopus

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Stronger Power: Improving Power Sector Resilience to Natural Hazards

2019-06, Nicolas, Claire, Rentschler, Jun, Potter van Loon, Albertine, Oguah, Sam, Schweikert, Amy, Deinert, Mark, Koks, Elco, Arderne, Christopher, Cubas, Diana, Li, Jie, Ichikawa, Eriko

The power sector is both highly vulnerable to natural hazards and a priority for any country'srecovery and reconstruction. After Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, most of the power gridwas down. One year and tens of billions of dollars later some customers were yet to be reconnected to the main grid. This type of long and widespread power outage has major consequences on people's health and well-being, for instance through lacking access to refrigeration for food and medicine, and on the ability of firms to produce and provide people with goods, services, jobs, and income. In most countries, the power system is designed to cope with high-frequency but relatively low impact events. Low-frequency, high-impact events – such as many natural disasters – are rarely considered fully, and the implementation of planned management measures is often patchy. Furthermore, the power system is a special kind of infrastructure due to the heterogeneity of the generation assets and its wide spatial distribution. The latter means that power systems are often exposed to natural hazards and sometimes to more than one hazard, leading to high repair costs when disasters strike. This paper, prepared as a sectoral note for the Lifelines report on infrastructure resilience, investigates the vulnerability of the power system to natural hazards and climate change, and provides recommendations to increase its resilience. It first describes how power outages are often the consequence of natural disasters and outlines the main vulnerabilities of the power sector. It then proposes a range of approaches and solutions for building a more resilient power sector – from increased robustness to greater flexibility – showing that the additional cost of resilience is not high if resources are well spent. Finally, it describes how emergency preparedness and disaster recovery encompass not only technical aspects, like asset strengthening or criticality analysis, but also "softer" skills, like governance, regulatory or capacity building, and education.

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Infrastructure Disruptions: How Instability Breeds Household Vulnerability

2019-06, Obolensky, Marguerite, Erman, Alvina, Rozenberg, Julie, Rentschler, Jun, Avner, Paolo, Hallegatte, Stephane, Avner, Paolo

This review examines the literature on the welfare impacts of infrastructure disruptions. There is widespread evidence that households suffer from the consequences of a lack of infrastructure reliability, and that being connected to the grid is not sufficient to close the infrastructure gap. Disruptions and irregular service have adverse effects on household welfare, due to missed work and education opportunities, and negative impact on health. Calibrating costs of unreliable infrastructure on existing willingness to pay assessments, we estimate the welfare losses associated with blackouts and water outages. Overall, between 0.1 and 0.2 percent of GDP would be lost each year because of unreliable infrastructure -- electricity, water and transport.

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Underutilized Potential: The Business Costs of Unreliable Infrastructure in Developing Countries

2019-06, Kornejew, Martin, Rentschler, Jun, Braese, Johannes, Hallegatte, Stephane, Obolensky, Marguerite

This study constructs a microdata set of about 143,000 firms to estimate the monetary costs of infrastructure disruptions in 137 low- and middle-income countries, representing 78 percent of the world population and 80 percent of the GDP of low- and -middle-income countries. Specifically, this study assesses the impact of transport, electricity, and water disruptions on the capacity utilization rates of firms. The estimates suggest that utilization losses amount to $151 billion a year -- of which $107 billion are due to transport disruptions, $38 billion due to blackouts, and $6 billion due to dryouts. Moreover, this study shows that electricity outages are causing sales losses equivalent to $82 billion a year. Firms are also incurring the costs of self-generated electricity, estimated to amount to $64 billion a year (including annualized capital expenditure). At almost $300 billion a year, these figures highlight the substantial drag that unreliable infrastructure imposes on firms in developing countries. Yet, these figures are likely to be under-estimates as neither all countries nor all types of impacts are covered.

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Candle in the Wind? Energy System Resilience to Natural Shocks

2019-06, Obolensky, Marguerite, Rentschler, Jun, Kornejew, Martin

This study finds that natural shocks -- storms in particular -- are a significant and often leading cause for power supply disruptions. This finding is based on 20 years of high frequency (i.e. daily) data on power outages and climate variables in 28 countries -- Bangladesh, the United States and 26 European countries. More specifically: (1) Natural shocks are the most important cause of power outages in developed economies. On average, they account for more than 50 of annual outage duration in both the US and Europe. In contrast, natural shocks are responsible for a small share of outages in Bangladesh, where disruptions occur on a daily basis for a variety of reasons. (2) Outages due to natural shocks are found to last significantly longer than those due to non-natural shocks in -- e.g. more than 4.5 times in Europe. Reasons include the challenge of locating wide-spread damages, and the sustained duration of storms. (3) Several factors can reinforce the adverse effect of natural shocks on power supply. In the US, forest cover is shown to significantly increase the risk of power outages when storms occur. (4) There are significant differences in network fragility. For instance, wind speeds above 35 km/h are found to be 12 times more likely to cause an outage in Bangladesh than in the US. This difference may be explained by a range of factors, including investments in infrastructure resilience and maintenance.

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Reforming Fossil Fuel Subsidies: Drivers, Barriers and the State of Progress

2016-06-24, Rentschler, Jun

This article outlines the current state of affairs in fossil fuel subsidy reform, and highlights its contribution at the nexus of climate policy, fiscal stability and sustainable development. It discusses common definitions, provides quantitative estimates, and presents the evidence for key arguments in favour of subsidy reform. The main drivers and barriers for reform are also discussed, including the role of (low) oil prices and political economy challenges. Commitments to subsidy reform by the international community are reviewed, as well as the progress at the country level. Although fossil fuel subsidy reform indeed plays a critical role in climate policy, experience shows that the rationale for such reforms is determined in a complex environment of political economy challenges, macro-economic, fiscal and social factors, as well as external drivers such as energy prices. The article synthesizes the key principles for designing effective reforms and emphasizes that subsidy reforms cannot only yield fiscal relief, but should also contribute to long-term sustainable development objectives. Areas for future research are also identified.

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Oil Price Volatility, Economic Growth and the Hedging Role of Renewable Energy

2013-09, Rentschler, Jun E.

This paper investigates the adverse effects of oil price volatility on economic activity and the extent to which countries can hedge against such effects by using renewable energy. By considering the Realized Volatility of oil prices, rather than following the standard approach of considering oil price shocks in levels, the effects of factor price uncertainty on economic activity are analyzed. Sample countries represent developed and developing, oil importing and exporting and service/industry-based economies (United States, Japan, Germany, South Korea, India, and Malaysia) and thus complement the standard literature's analysis of Western OECD countries. In a vector auto-regressive setting, Granger causality tests, impulse response functions, and variance decompositions show that oil price volatility has more-adverse effects in all sample countries than oil price shocks alone can explain. The paper finds that the sensitivity to oil price volatility varies widely across countries and discusses various factors which may determine the level of sensitivity (such as sectoral composition and the energy mix). This implies that the standard approach of solely considering net oil importer-exporter status is not sufficient. Simulations of volatility shocks in hypothetical energy mixes (with increased renewable shares) illustrate the potential economic benefits resulting from efforts to disconnect the macroeconomy from volatile commodity markets. It is concluded that expanding renewable energy can in principle reduce an economy's vulnerability to oil price volatility, but a country-specific analysis would be necessary to identify concrete policy measures. Overall, the paper provides an additional rationale for reducing exposure and vulnerability to oil price volatility for the sake of economic growth.