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Small Steps with Big Data: Using Machine Learning in Energy and Environmental Economics
Annual Review of Resource Economics  (IF5.184),  Pub Date : 2021-10-05, DOI: 10.1146/annurev-resource-100920-034117
Matthew C. Harding, Carlos Lamarche

This article reviews recent endeavors to incorporate big data and machine learning techniques into energy and environmental economics research. We find that novel datasets, from high frequency smart meter data to satellite images and social media data, are already used by researchers. At the same time most of the analyses rely on traditional econometric techniques. Nevertheless, we find applications of machine learning models that address the high dimensionality of the data and seek out new and better strategies for estimating heterogenous treatment effects. We provide an introduction to the main themes in machine learning, which are likely to be of use to economists in energy and environmental economics, and illustrate them using a real data example derived from an energy efficiency program evaluation. We provide the data and code in order to stimulate further research in this area.