Recent Issues

The Energy Journal
Volume 43, Number 1




Green is Good—The Impact of Information Nudges on the Selection of Voluntary Green-Power Plans

Eric Cardella, Bradley T. Ewing, and Ryan B. Williams

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.ecar
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Abstract:
A recent trend has been a move toward greater reliance on renewable or “green” energy sources, especially in the residential sector. Using a choice experiment, this paper examines how providing information regarding the efficiency, cost, and environmental impacts of different power-generating sources impact consumers’ stated preferences for selecting voluntary green-power plans. Based on 21,000 plan choices from two different samples totaling over 1,800 respondents, our results indicate that information nudges significantly impact respondents’ choice of plan. Promoting the advantages of the green plan or the disadvantages of the “gray” plan increase green plan selection. The magnitudes of these estimated effects are economically significant being roughly equivalent to a change in the monthly green price premium of $4/month. We also find that promoting the advantages of the green plan is more effective when the green plan premium is relatively small, while highlighting the drawbacks of the gray plan is more effective when the green plan premium is relatively large. Our results suggest that information nudges have the potential to be a plausible, economical, and effective mechanism to increase adoption of voluntary green-power plans.




How Sensitive are Optimal Fully Renewable Power Systems to Technology Cost Uncertainty?

Behrang Shirizadeh, Quentin Perrier, and Philippe Quirion

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.bshi
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Abstract:
Many studies have demonstrated the feasibility of fully renewable power systems. Yet the future costs of key technologies are highly uncertain, and little is known about the robustness of a renewable power system to these uncertainties. To analyze it, we build 315 cost scenarios by varying the costs of key technologies and we model the optimal renewable power system for France, simultaneously optimizing investment and dispatch. We add to the literature by studying a consecutive 18-years weather period; by testing all combinations of technology costs rather than changing them one-at-a-time; and by calculating the regret from optimizing the energy mix on the basis of cost assumptions that do not materialize. Our results indicate that the cost of a 100% system is not that sensitive to uncertainty. Admittedly, the optimal energy mix is highly sensitive to cost assumptions: across our scenarios, the installed capacity in PV, onshore wind and power-to-gas varies by a factor of 5, batteries and offshore wind even more. However, in every scenario the total production and storage cost is similar to, or lower than the current cost. This indicates that renewable technologies will become by and large substitutable. Moreover, even if the energy mix is optimized based on cost assumptions which turn out to be wrong, the extra cost is low: 4% in average and less than 9% in 95% of the scenarios.




The Impact of Capacity Market Auctions on Wholesale Electricity Prices

Francisco Moraiz and Dominic Scott

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.fmor
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Abstract:
The objective of this analysis is to shed light on the impact-on electricity prices and net costs borne by the consumer-of the introduction of the Capacity Market. The analysis uses the 'surprise' announcement of the introduction of a Capacity Market Early Auction to assess its impact on wholesale prices using the 'difference-in-differences' (did) method. Although we cannot exclude entirely the possibility of other drivers, our results suggest that the announcement of introduction of the Early Auction may have reduced the spread between peak and base prices by £0.84/MWh. This may be consistent with a reduction in wholesale revenues of about half the total value of the Capacity Market of £380 million. Our research is subject to a number of assumptions and accompanying caveats which we spell out.




Optimal Nuclear Liability Insurance

Alexis Louaas and Pierre Picard

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.alou
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Abstract:
We analyze the insurance of nuclear liability risk, from theoretical and applied standpoints. Firstly, we characterize the optimal insurance scheme for a low-probability industrial accident, such as a nuclear catastrophe, when liability is shared between the firm and the State. Using catastrophe bond data, we then evaluate the cost of capital sustaining such an insurance mechanism. Finally, we characterize the individual lotteries associated with the risk of a nuclear accident in France, and we estimate the optimal coverage. We conclude that the liability limit currently in force is likely to be inferior to the socially optimal level.




Seasonal Flexibility in the European Natural Gas Market

Iegor Riepin and Felix Musgens

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.irie
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Abstract:
This paper focuses on seasonal demand swings in the European natural gas market. We quantify and compare the role of different flexibility options (domestic production, gas storage, and pipeline and LNG imports) to assess European demand fluctuations in monthly resolution. We contribute to the existing literature on seasonal flexibility by addressing the problem with a mathematical gas market optimization model. Our paper provides valuable empirical insights into the decline of gas production in northwestern Europe. Furthermore, we focus on how specific flexibility features differ between pipeline supplies and LNG supplies and between gas imports and storage dispatch. In terms of methodology, we construct a bottom-up market optimization model and publish the complete source code (which is uncommon for gas market models). Furthermore, we propose a new metric—the scaled coefficient of variation—to quantify the importance of supply sources for seasonal flexibility provision.




On Bond Returns in a Time of Climate Change

Alessandro Ravina

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.arav
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Abstract:
The study of the financial repercussions of low-carbon policy has focused mainly on stocks, leaving bonds out of the picture. The objective of this paper is to assess the impact of low-carbon policy upon European bond returns. This is done by extending the Fama and French two factor model for bonds with an EU-ETS participation factor: GMC (Green minus Carbon). This paper makes four contributions. Firstly, it provides a statistically highly significant measure of the sensitivity of bond portfolio returns to the GMC factor. Secondly, it shows the presence of a green premium in the European bond market in between 2008 and 2018. Thirdly, evidence is found that the addition of an environmental factor improves the performance of the original model. Fourthly, the carbon stress test put forward is able to indicate the effects of a plausible but more severe average EU-ETS carbon price on bond returns.




Understanding Hourly Electricity Demand: Implications for Load, Welfare and Emissions

Amin Karimu, Chandra Kiran B.Krishnamurthy, and Mattias Vesterberg

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.akar
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Abstract:
In this study, using hourly data from a representative sample of Swedish households on standard tariffs, we investigate the welfare and emission implications of moving to a mandatory dynamic pricing scheme. We allow demand during different hours of a day to affect utility differently, and account for the derived nature of electricity demand by explicitly accounting for the services (end-use demands) that drive hourly electricity demand. We use the flexible Exact Affine Stone Index (EASI) demand system, which accommodates both observed and unobserved heterogeneity in preferences, to understand changes in load consequent to hourly retail pricing. Our findings suggest that, following hourly retail pricing, changes in load patterns across hours are relatively small: total load changes by less than one percent. There are correspondingly small reductions in welfare and carbon emissions, of less than 0.2 percent and 0.47 percent, respectively. Overall, in the context of a decentralized, competitive retail electricity market-setting, our results suggest that the benefits to ensuring that the retail price of electricity reflects the hourly marginal cost is small, at least in the short run.




High Taxes on Cloudy Days: Dynamic State-Induced Price Components in Power Markets

Leonard Göke and Reinhard Madlener

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.lgok
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Abstract:
State-induced components constitute the major share of electricity prices for consumers and are generally charged at a fixed rate. We analyze the benefits of charging state-induced price components at time-varying rates instead, especially with regard to the integration of variable renewable energy (VRE) sources and to decarbonization. For this purpose, we apply a detailed power market model that puts particular emphasis on electricity demand and how it is sensitive to prices. For a quantitative case study, the model is parametrized to represent a German energy system with an 85% share of renewables in its power generation. We find that dynamization has a reducing effect on integration costs of VRE, ranging from 0.3 to 3.4 €/MWh. Furthermore, strong distributional effects in favor of flexible consumers can be observed.




Comparing the Risk Spillover from Oil and Gas to Investment Grade and High-yield Bonds through Optimal Copulas

Md Lutfur Rahman, Syed Jawad Hussain Shahzad, Gazi Salah Uddin, and Anupam Dutta

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.mrah
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Abstract:
This paper compares the tail dependence and risk spillovers from the oil and gas to high-yield (HY) and investment grade (IG) bond markets. We use time-varying optimal copula framework to examine the dependence and further quantify upside and downside risk spillovers. We also explore how energy futures can be used to hedge risk of HY and IG bond portfolios. Our results show that the bond returns are more sensitive to risk shocks in the oil market compared to gas market. We find both negative and positive tail dependence between the bond and energy pairs and the relationship is stronger during the oil-crunch period. The dependence however is asymmetric across the tails. Finally, compared to oil futures, gas futures are found to be better hedge for the bond investment. These results can help in managing portfolio risk and designing optimal asset allocation strategies. These might also assist in formulating policies and regulations to manage the effects of cross-market risk transmissions.




The Household Appliance Stock, Income, and Electricity Demand Elasticity

Adrienne Ohler, David G. Loomis, and Yewande Marquis

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.aohl
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Abstract:
This paper estimates household electricity demand using data from the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). Previous research has focused on estimating price elasticities, and we contribute to this literature by examining how price elasticity is impacted by household income and the appliance stock. Results show that as income increases, households rely less on electricity for space and water heating, but the number of electronic appliances increases with income. The changing stock suggests that the mechanism through which energy reduction occurs differs across income levels. The results can aid policymakers concerned about electricity demand, rising electricity rates, and the impact on low-income households. The results can also inform the design of demand response and demand side management programs.




Investment Allocation with Capital Constraints. Comparison of Fiscal Regimes

Petter Osmundsen, Kjell Løvås, and Magne Emhjellen

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.43.1.posm
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Abstract:
The dramatic fall in oil prices after 2014 has led to more extensive capital rationing in international oil companies, and subsequent fierce competition between resource extraction countries to attract scarce investment. This situation is not adequately addressed by the large general literature on international taxation and multinational companies, since it fails to take account of capital rationing in its assumption that companies sanction all projects with a positive net present after-tax value. The paper examines the effect of tax design on international capital allocation when companies ration capital. We analyse capital allocation and government take for four equal oil projects in three different fiscal regimes: the U.S. GoM, UK upstream and Norway offshore. Implications for optimal tax design are discussed.




Book Reviews

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