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The Energy Journal
Volume 43, Number 5

How are Day-ahead Prices Informative for Predicting the Next Day's Consumption of Natural Gas? Evidence from France

Arthur Thomas, Olivier Massol, Benoît Sévi

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.atho
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The purpose of this paper is to investigate, for the first time, whether the next day’s consumption of natural gas can be accurately forecast using a simple model that solely incorporates the information contained in day-ahead market data. Hence, unlike standard models that use a number of meteorological variables, we only consider two predictors: the price of natural gas and the spark ratio measuring the relative price of electricity to gas. We develop a suitable modeling approach that captures the essential features of daily gas consumption and, in particular, the nonlinearities resulting from power dispatching and apply it to the case of France. Our results document the existence of a long-run relation between demand and spot prices and provide estimates of the marginal impacts that these price variables have on observed demand levels. We also provide evidence of the pivotal role of the spark ratio in the short run which is found to have an asymmetric and highly nonlinear impact on demand variations. Lastly, we show that our simple model is sufficient to generate predictions that are considerably more accurate than the forecasts published by infrastructure operators.

Stranded Asset Risk and Political Uncertainty: The Impact of the Coal Phase-Out on the German Coal Industry

Miriam Breitenstein, Carl-Philipp Anke, Duc Khuong Nguyen, and Thomas Walther

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.mbre
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We assess the value of stranded coal-fired power plants in Germany in the light of the critical decision to phase them out by 2038. In a Monte Carlo simulation, the scenarios under consideration (slow decommissioning at the end of the technical lifetime in 2061, the highly probable phase-out by 2038, and an accelerated phase-out by 2030) are additionally assigned distributions to display the uncertainty of future developments. The results show an overall stranded asset value of €2.6 billion given the phase-out by 2038 and an additional €11.6 billion if the phase-out is brought forward by 8 years. This study also describes the impacts of carbon pricing and the feed-in from renewable energy sources on the merit order and eventually the deterioration in economic conditions for hard coal and lignite power plants. Lastly, we discuss the immediate concerns for the share prices of the affected companies and help to close the research gap regarding stranded physical and financial assets.

Riding the Nordic German Power-Spread: The Einar Aas Experiment

Christian-Oliver Ewald, Erik Haugom, Gudbrand Lien, Pengcheng Song, and Ståle Størdal

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.cewa
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Inspired by the initial success and eventual failure of Einar Aas' trading strategy exploiting dynamical patterns in the spread between Nordic and German electricity futures, we investigate the question whether there is evidence for possible arbitrage from engaging in both markets simultaneously and the possibility of constructing a trading strategy that ultimately beats the markets. To do this, we first assess the risk premium and relevant Sharpe values for the two markets and observe significant differences. This is followed by a discussion as to how far the different risk premia and Sharpe values alone are evidence of arbitrage. The answer is, they are not. However, we then show that an intelligently chosen long-short strategy constructed in the Einar Aas spirit can generate a positive alpha in the CAPM sense, hence providing evidence of arbitrage.

Time-Varying Term Structure of Oil Risk Premia

Gonzalo Cortazar, Philip Liedtke, Hector Ortega, and Eduardo S. Schwartz

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.gcor
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We develop a framework to estimate time-varying commodity risk premia from multi-factor models using futures prices and analysts' forecasts of future prices. The model is calibrated for oil using a 3-factor stochastic commodity-pricing model with an affine risk premia specification. The WTI oil futures price data is from the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and analysts' forecasts are from Bloomberg and the U.S Energy Information Administration. Weekly estimations for short, medium, and long-term risk premia between 2010 and 2017 are obtained. Results from the model calibration show that the term structure of oil risk premia moves stochastically through time, that short-term risk premia tend to be higher than long-term ones and that risk premia volatility is much higher for short maturities. An empirical analysis is performed to explore the macroeconomic and oil market variables that may explain the stochastic behavior of oil risk premia, showing that inventories, hedging pressure, term premium, default premium and the level of interest rates all play a significant role in explaining the risk premia.

Energy Efficiency and Productivity: A Worldwide Firm-level Analysis

Pierluigi Montalbano, Silvia Nenci, and Davide Vurchio

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.pmon
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This work aims to explore the relationship between energy efficiency and productivity using firm-level data. Although important to policymaking, very few academic studies analyze this relationship at the firm level. Taking advantage of the national representative World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES) data, we contribute to the current literature by providing one of the most comprehensive firm-level analyses to date in terms of geographical coverage. To this end, we apply a standard constant return to scale Cobb-Douglas production function expanded to energy efficiency. Our findings show a positive relationship between alternative measures of energy efficiency and firm-level productivity. This relationship holds, albeit with different magnitudes, for all industries and regional groups. This work provides further empirical support for the messages conveyed by international institutions regarding the positive relationship between environmental actions and firm performance, thus supporting collective efforts to improve the private sector's energy efficiency, including the implementation of Agenda 2030.

Reconciling Hotelling Resource Models with Hotelling's Accounting Method

Robert D. Cairns and John M. Hartwick

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.rcai
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In green accounting, it is seldom checked that depreciation must sum to original value. A re-examination of green accounting under this condition finds that, in a non-autonomous program, income should include capital gains. Subtle questions respecting the role and treatment of capital gains are brought to light through six models in exhaustible-resource economics. It is likely that there are sources of non-autonomy when a problem is not optimal or when there are non-priced assets—in practice, always. Accordingly, the questions raised strongly influence accounting method.

Pipes, Trains and Automobiles: Explaining British Columbia's High Wholesale Gasoline Prices

G. Kent Fellows

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.gfel
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I modify a cournot oligopoly model to examine the effect of pipeline capacity constraints on regional wholesale gasoline prices. The model includes a discontinuous supply function for a common input (transportation) with a constrained low-cost mode (pipelines) and an unconstrained higher cost mode (rail, truck or barge). The equilibrium outcome demonstrates a piecewise linear relationship between the low-cost capacity constraint and the equilibrium price. The shape of the transportation supply curve is also shown to affect the relationship between firm average marginal costs and the equilibrium price. I also present a test of the model's implications, demonstrating that it is able to explain a recent pronounced increase in wholesale gasoline prices for cities in British Columbia Canada. While the exercise is motivated by a specific market, the model and its implications apply to a broad set of discussions on inter-regional arbitrage in the context of imperfect competition.

Investigating Price Formation Enhancements in Non-Convex Electricity Markets as Renewable Generation Grows

Ali Daraeepour, Eric D. Larson, and Chris Greig

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.adar
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Continued growth in wind energy penetration increases the demand for operational flexibility on the grid. It is not well-understood if the price formation process in current U.S. electricity markets will appropriately reward the provision of operational flexibility. This study investigates how continued growth in wind penetration impacts conventional marginal pricing efficiency and assesses its ability to remunerate operational flexibility. It also investigates the extent to which alternative marginal pricing schemes that seek to minimize out-of-market payments enhance remuneration of flexibility. Using a custom-built model, we simulate PJM's hourly electricity market outcomes under conventional and alternative marginal pricing schemes for three wind penetration levels. We find that the increasing demand for operational flexibility increases the frequency and magnitude of unrepresentative price events that suppress energy prices and thus the market's ability to remunerate flexibility. We find that the alternative of convex-hull pricing, which minimizes out-of-market payments, can largely overcome these issues.

Design of Renewable Support Schemes and Windfall Profits: A Monte Carlo Analysis for the Netherlands

Daan Hulshof and Machiel Mulder

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.dhul
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This paper investigates to which extent the Dutch feed-in premium scheme for on-shore wind projects has resulted in windfall profits during 2003-2018, a period in which the design of the scheme changed several times. Using Monte Carlo simulations, for 2003, 2009 and 2018, years that represent distinct scheme designs, we estimate the distributions of the required subsidy across virtually all potential on-shore wind projects, and compare them to the granted subsidies. We find that the average windfall profits of randomly drawn projects from the pool of potential investments have decreased over time, largely as a result of differentiating in the subsidy level among projects on the basis of the wind speed at the turbine's location. Despite these improvements, actual investments still experience substantial windfall profits, implying that investors successfully seek out projects that yield the highest windfall profits. Overall, the results imply that accounting for heterogeneity by differentiating in the subsidy level contributes to mitigating windfall profits.

Market-Based Redispatch May Result in Inefficient Dispatch

Veronika Grimm, Alexander Martin, Christian Sölch, Martin Weibelzahl, and Gregor Zöttl

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.csol
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In this paper we analyze a uniform price day-ahead electricity spot market that is followed by redispatch in the case of network congestion. We assume that the transmission system operator is incentivized to minimize redispatch cost and compare cost-based redispatch (CBR ) to market-based redispatch (MBR) mechanisms. For networks with at least three nodes we show that in contrast to CBR , in the case of MBR incentives to minimize redispatch cost are in general not efficient in the context of our short-run analysis. This obtains both for pay-as-bid as well as locational marginal prices used for MBR compensation. As we demonstrate, moreover, in case of MBR the possibility of the transmission system operator to inefficiently reduce redispatch cost at the expense of decreased overall welfare can be driven both by the electricity supply side and the electricity demand side. Our results highlight a novel and important aspect regarding the design and the desirability of congestion management regimes in liberalized electricity markets.

Fat Tails due to Variable Renewables and Insufficient Flexibility: Evidence from Germany

Ronald Huisman, Evangelos Kyritsis, and Cristian Stet

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.rhui
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The large-scale integration of renewable energy sources requires flexibility from power markets in the sense that the latter should quickly counterbalance the renewable supply variation driven by weather conditions. Most power markets cannot (yet) provide this flexibility effectively as they suffer from inelastic demand and insufficient flexible storage capacity or flexible conventional suppliers.Research accordingly shows that the volume of renewable energy in the supply system affects the mean and volatility of power prices. We extend this view and show that the level of wind and solar energy supply affects the tails of the electricity price distributions as well and that it does so asymmetrically. The higher the supply from wind and solar energy sources, the fatter the left tail of the price distribution and the thinner the right tail.This implies that one cannot rely on symmetric price distributions for risk management and for valuation of (flexible) power assets. The evidence in this paper suggests that we have to rethink the methods of subsidizing variable renewable supply such that they take into consideration also the flexibility needs of power markets.

Reciprocal Dumping under Dichotomous Regulation

Sébastien Debia and Georges Zaccour

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.5.sdeb
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An essential ingredient to net-zero-emissions policies is to regionally integrate electricity markets. But electricity cross-border trades are often assessed as inefficient. We explain this inefficiency by the presence of a dichotomous regulation: producers are highly regulated with regard to their local activities, but weakly regulated when it comes to their exports. Such a dichotomy in regulation can be generalized to every economic sector, with varying intensity. We develop a generic 2-player 2-stage game theoretical framework where producers anticipate the impact of their exports on the clearing of regulated local markets. We characterize the subgame-perfect Nash equilibrium of the game as a function of the relative price-elasticity between markets. Overall, dichotomous regulation leads producers to over-export in order to create scarcity in their home market. Hence, despite that local markets clear efficiently, the global equilibrium is inefficient. When the two jurisdictions are relatively symmetric, the equilibrium is Pareto-dominated by the first-best outcome. These results call for better coordination between regulators across different jurisdictions.

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