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Recent Issues

The Energy Journal
Volume 39, Number 6

UK Electricity Market Reform and the Energy Transition: Emerging Lessons

Michael Grubb and David Newbery

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.mgru
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The 2013 Electricity Market Reform (EMR) was a response to the twin problems of securing efficient finance for a new generation of low carbon investments, and delivering reliability along with a growing share of renewables in its energy-only market. Four EMR instruments combined to revolutionize the sector; stimulating unprecedented technological and structural change. Competitive auctions for both firm capacity and renewable energy have seen prices far lower than predicted and the entry of unexpected new technologies. A carbon price floor displaced coal, whose share fell from 46% in 1995 to 7% in 2017, halving CO2. Renewables grew from under 4% in 2008 to 22% by 2017, projected at 30+% by 2020 despite a political ban on onshore wind. Neither the technological nor regulatory transitions are complete, and the results to date highlight other challenges, notably to transmission pricing and locational signals. EMR is a step forwards, not backwards; but it is not the end of the story.

Cleaner Nudges? Policy Labels and Investment Decision-making

Ian Lange, Mirko Moro, and Mohammad Mahbubur Rahman

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.ilan
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Recent evidence suggests that labeling of unconditional cash transfers leads recipients to spend more on the labeled good. In this paper we show that the Winter Fuel Payment, an unconditional cash transfer, has distortionary effects on the market for goods related to the labeled product, renewable technologies. Using a Regression Discontinuity Design this analysis finds a robust reduction in the probability to install renewable energy technologies of 1.2 percentage points. Falsification tests support the labeling hypothesis. As a result, households use too much energy from sources which generate pollution and too little from relatively cleaner technologies.Keywords: Winter Fuel Payment, Regression Discontinuity, Renewable energy, Causal effect

China’s Natural Gas Demand Projections and Supply Capacity Analysis in 2030

Qiang Ji, Ying Fan, Mike Troilo, Ronald D. Ripple, and Lianyong Feng

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.qji
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This paper builds an econometric model to analyze the income elasticity and price elasticities of sectoral natural gas demand and forecasts China's natural gas demand up to 2030. The findings indicate that there is a long-term equilibrium relationship among sectoral natural gas demand, sectoral income and various fuel prices. The results also indicate that most price elasticities are smaller relative to developed countries; the effect of fuel prices on natural gas demand is partly offset by the government regulation. In the Business As Usual (BAU) scenario, China's natural gas demand will reach 340 bcm and 528 bcm and its foreign dependence will reach 27.9% and 43.2% in 2020 and 2030, respectively. The forecast and discussion in this paper provide important insights into China's energy policy design and pricing mechanism reform, and into the potential impact of China's growing natural gas demand on global energy market dynamics.

Firm-level Estimates of Fuel Substitution: An Application to Carbon Pricing

Marie Hyland and Stefanie Haller

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.mhyl
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We estimate partial and total own and cross price elasticities between electricity, gas and oil, using firm-level data. We find that, based on the partial elasticity measure, electricity is the least-responsive fuel to changes in its own price and in the price of other fuels. The total elasticity measure, which adjusts the partial elasticity for changes in aggregate energy demand induced by individual fuel price changes, reveals that the demand for electricity is much more price responsive than the partial elasticity suggests. Our results illustrate the importance of accounting for the feedback effect between interfactor and interfuel elasticities when considering the effectiveness of environmental taxation. We use the estimated elasticities to simulate the impact of a �15/tCO2 carbon tax on average energy-related CO2 emissions. The carbon tax results in a small reduction in CO2 emissions from oil and gas use, but this reduction is partially offset by an increase in emissions due to increased electricity consumption by some firms.

Evaluating an Interconnection Project: Do Strategic Interactions Matter?

Sébastien Debia, David Benatia, and Pierre-Olivier Pineau

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.sdeb
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High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) merchant transmission lines allow trade across separate power markets and often in different countries. Flows on existing cross-border lines are often assessed as suboptimal, which may be due to the light regulation that often prevails in these cases. This paper studies the impact of market power on HVDC interconnections as a determinant of imperfect arbitrage. We assess the impact of Physical Transmission Rights (PTRs) allocation on the management of an HVDC interconnection between a thermal and a hydroelectricity market, assuming dynamic water management. We use a two-stage game formulated as an Equilibrium Problem with Equilibrium Constraints (EPEC) to model the strategic trade between the New York (US) and Quebec (Canada) systems. The numerical model is calibrated with public data. We find that although the interconnection can create wealth, a high concentration of PTRs can destroy value because of dumping strategies. The impact of trade on local price levels may be of concern and calls for the functional unbundling of traders and generators.

Market Power with Tradable Performance-Based CO2 Emission Standards in the Electricity Sector

Yihsu Chen, Makoto Tanaka, and Afzal S. Siddiqui

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.yche
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The U.S. Clean Power Plan stipulates a state-specific performance-based CO2 emission standard, delegating states with considerable flexibility for using either a tradable performance-based or a mass-based permit program. This paper analyzes these two standards under imperfect competitive. We limit our attention to (1) short-run analyses and (2) a situation in which all states are subject to the same type of standard. We show that while the cross-subsidy inherent in the performance-based standard might effectively reduce power prices, it could also inflate energy consumption. A dominant firm with a relatively clean endowment under the performance-based standard would be able to manipulate the electricity market as well as to elevate permit prices, which might worsen market outcomes compared to its mass-based counterpart. On the other hand, the "cross-subsidy" could be the dominant force leading to a higher social welfare if the leader has a relatively dirty endowment.

Energy Efficiency Transitions in China: How Persistent are the Movements to/from the Frontier?

Lin Zhang and Philip Kofi Adom

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.lzha
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This study examines the energy efficiency transitions in China using provincial data covering the period 2003-2015. Sustainable progress in energy efficiency achievement is beneficial to energy security and the achievement of the Paris Agreement. This article combines the stochastic frontier method with the panel Markov-switching regression to model energy efficiency transitions. The estimated energy efficiency scores show significant regional and provincial heterogeneity. Also, while human capital development, urbanization, and foreign direct investment promote energy efficiency, price and income per capita reduce it. The transition probabilities indicate that the high energy-efficient state is less sustainable, and the movement towards the frontier seems less persistent than movement from the frontier. Thus, it appears that China is not making sustainable progress in energy efficiency. The unsustainable nature of the high energy-efficient state suggests that in China, there are weak energy efficiency efforts and energy efficiency policies lack robustness.

Antidumping and Feed-In Tariffs as Good Buddies? Modeling the EU-China Solar Panel Dispute

Patrice Bougette and Christophe Charlier

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.pbou
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The paper analyzes the interactions between trade and renewable energy policies based on the EU-China solar panel dispute which is the most significant antidumping (AD) complaint in Europe. We build a price competition duopoly model with differentiated products and intra-industry trade in photovoltaic (PV) equipment. We show that an optimal antidumping duty always increases with the feed-in tariff (FIT) program set in the home country. An appropriate antidumping duty - nullifying the dumping margin - decreases with the FIT program. We show that optimal FIT increases with the AD duty. Therefore, trade and renewable energy optimal policies may complement one another. Lastly, we introduce R&D activities in the PV sector, and international spillovers. We show that R&D makes the optimal FIT lower and increases the dumping margin. These effects are reinforced by technological spillovers.

Taxation and Investment Decisions in Petroleum

Graham A. Davis and Diderik Lund

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.gdav
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When governments apply high tax rates targeted at natural resource rent, there must be generous deductions in order to avoid investment disincentives. How generous is disputed. Based on standard finance theory and recommendations from the OECD and the IMF, the value that firms attach to future deductions depends on the risks of these, and the companies' after-tax weighted-average cost of capital cannot be applied directly. As an example, a simple model quantifies the difference between pre-tax and post-tax systematic risk when tax deductions are less risky than pre-tax cash flows. Osmundsen et al. (2015) suggest that the difference must be ignored by oil companies, since they cannot find the separate market values of tax deductions. But companies operating in different jurisdictions cannot then appreciate differences in tax systems, not even approximately, which will lead to suboptimal decisions. Tax designers may instead assume that companies have gradually adopted more sophisticated methods of investment decision making.

A Mechanism for Allocating Benefits and Costs from Transmission Interconnections under Cooperation: A Case Study of the North Sea Offshore Grid

Martin Kristiansen, Francisco D. Muñoz, Shmuel Oren, and Magnus Korpås

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.mkri
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We propose a generic mechanism for allocating the benefits and costs that result from the development of international transmission interconnections under a cooperative agreement. The mechanism is based on a planning model that considers generation investments as a response to transmission developments, and the Shapley Value from cooperative game theory. This method provides a unique allocation of benefits and costs considering each country's average incremental contribution to the cooperative agreement. The allocation satisfies an axiomatic definition of fairness. We demonstrate our results for three planned transmission interconnections in the North Sea and show that the proposed mechanism can be used as a basis for defining a set of Power Purchase Agreements among countries. This achieves the desired final distribution of economic benefits and costs from transmission interconnections as countries trade power over time. We also show that, in this case, the proposed allocation is stable.

How Does Welfare from Load Shifting Electricity Policy Vary with Market Prices? Evidence from Bulk Storage and Electricity Generation

J. Scott Holladay and Jacob LaRiviere

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.jhol
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We model the electricity market to demonstrate that changes in the price of natural gas can cause the market and non-market impacts of bulk electricity storage to move in opposite directions. We provide evidence consistent with the model using a series of reduced form tests on data from 2005-2010. We then simulate installing bulk electricity storage on the US electric grid. We find that lower natural gas prices generally reduce the market gains and non-market costs of storage. However, direct non-market costs are still positive which means that there is no argument for subsidizing storage to mitigate pollution given the current mix of generating technologies; arguments in favor of bulk storage R&D subsidies ride on public good aspects of technology and dynamic investment incentives for intermittent renewables.

Book Reviews


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