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The Energy Journal
Volume 41, Special Issue

Pricing and Competition with 100% Variable Renewable Energy and Storage

Tommi Ekholm and Vilma Virasjoki

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.42.S12.tekh
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Electricity production is a key sector in global decarbonization efforts, and variable renewable energy (VRE) technologies are a primary way to produce carbon-free electricity. We study an electricity market where generation is 100 % VRE, while storage and elastic demand resolve temporal supply-demand imbalances. We model hourly market equilibrium to analyze price formation and imperfect, Cournot-type competition with varying levels of ownership concentration. Market power is exerted either with storage-only or with both VRE and storage. In such a system, prices are determined dynamically by demand and intertemporal storage decisions, breaking the static logic of "merit order" with dispatchable generation. The numerical results indicate that market power with storage has a relatively moderate effect on prices and market efficiency. However, market power exerted with VRE has far larger welfare impacts, resulting from curtailed generation. However, such actions could be more readily observed by a regulator via monitoring.

Competition in Markets for Ancillary Services? The Implications of Rising Distributed Generation

Michael G. Pollitt and Karim L. Anaya

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.42.SI1.mpol
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Ancillary services are electricity products which include balancing energy, frequency regulation, voltage support, constraint management and reserves. Traditionally they have been procured by system operators from large conventional power plants, as by-products of the production of energy. This paper discusses the use of markets to procure ancillary services in the face of potentially higher demand for them, caused by rising amounts of intermittent renewable generation. We discuss: the nature of markets for ancillary services; what we really mean by ancillary services; how they are impacted by the rise of distributed generation; how they are currently procured; how they relate to the rest of the electricity system; the current state of evidence on ancillary services markets; whether these markets ever be as competitive as conventional wholesale energy markets, and offer some conclusions.

Optimal Capacity Mechanisms for Competitive Electricity Markets

Pär Holmberg and Robert A. Ritz

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.42.S12.phol
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Capacity mechanisms are increasingly used in electricity market design around the world yet their role remains hotly debated. This paper introduces a new benchmark model of a capacity mechanism in a competitive electricity market with many different conventional generation technologies. We consider two policy instruments, a wholesale price cap and a capacity payment, and show which combinations of these instruments induce socially-optimal investment by the market. Our analysis yields a rationale for a capacity mechanism based on the internalization of a system-cost externality�even where the price cap is set at the value of lost load. In extensions, (i) we show how increasing variable renewables penetration can enhance the need for a capacity payment under a novel condition called "imperfect system substitutability" , and (ii) we outline the socially-optimal design of a strategic reserve with a targeted capacity payment.

Conditional Yardstick Competition in Energy Regulation

Timo Kuosmanen and Andrew L. Johnson

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.42.S12.tkuo
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Yardstick competition is a regulation regime that forces local monopolies to compete against a variable cost or total cost benchmark. The variable cost benchmark ignores the fixed capital, creating a strong incentive to over-invest, whereas the total cost benchmark assumes all costs to be variable, ignoring the investment risk. We propose theoretical, methodological, and operational advances to increase applicability of yardstick competition in energy regulation. In the proposed conditional yardstick regime capital is treated as a fixed input, and the local monopolies compete against the variable cost conditional on the fixed input. We develop a benchmarking method that can handle multiple outputs, heterogeneity, and shape constraints to ensure incentive compatibility. We discuss the real-world application of the proposed regime to the Finnish electricity distribution firms in 2016�2023. We argue that smarter regulation of network industries can contribute to lower risk premiums and help to achieve win-win solutions both in terms of reliability and affordability.

Unbundling, Regulation, and Pricing: Evidence from Electricity Distribution

Sven Heim, Bastian Krieger, and Mario Liebensteiner

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.42.S12.shei
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Unbundling of vertically integrated utilities has become an integral element in the regulation of network industries and has been implemented in many jurisdictions. The idea of separating the network, as the natural monopoly, from downstream retailing, which may be exposed to competition, is still subject to contentious debate, as there is much empirical evidence that unbundling eliminates economies of vertical integration, though evidence on overall price effects is still lacking. In this paper, we study the effect of legal unbundling on grid charges in the German electricity distribution industry. Using panel data on German distribution system operators (DSOs), we exploit the variation in the timing of the implementation of legal unbundling and the fact that not all DSOs had to implement unbundling measures. We are also able to identify heterogeneous effects of legal unbundling for different types of price regulation because we observe a switch in the price regulation regime from rate-of-return regulation to incentive regulation during our observation period. Our findings suggest that legal unbundling of the network stage significantly decreases grid charges in the range of 5% to 9%, depending on the type of price regulation in place.

The Impact of Renewable Energy Generation on the Spot Market Price in Germany: Ex-Post Analysis using Boosting Method

Alexander Ryota Keeley, Ken’ichi Matsumoto, Kenta Tanaka, Yogi Sugiawan, and Shunsuke Managi

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.42.S12.akee
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This study combines regression analysis with machine learning analysis to study the merit order effect of renewable energy focusing on German market, the largest market in Europe with high renewable energy penetration. The results show that electricity from wind and solar sources reduced the spot market price by 9.64 €/MWh on average during the period from 2010 to 2017. Wind had a relatively stable impact across the day, ranging from 5.88 €/MWh to 8.04 €/MWh, while the solar energy impact varied greatly across different hours, ranging from 0.24 €/MWh to 11.78 €/MWh and having a stronger impact than wind during peak hours. The results also show characteristics of the interactions between renewable energy and spot market prices, including the slightly diminishing merit order effect of renewable energy at high generation volumes. Finally, a scenario-based analysis illustrates how different proportions of wind and solar energies affect the spot market price.


Derek E. H. Olmstead, Matthew J. Ayres, and Peter B. R. Lomas

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.42.S12.dolm
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This paper considers the effect of the publication of offer price information on unilateral market power in Alberta’s electricity market. This market is an hourly auction characterized by repeated interaction among a small number of producers, common knowledge of costs and production capabilities, and price inelastic demand. For the period July 13, 2000 to May 18, 2017, offer prices for each hour were published by the market operator, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), in the Historical Trading Report (HTR) after the end of the hour. Using counterfactual analysis from 2010 to 2015 (52,584 hours), the paper finds that the effect of offer price changes after the HTR publication was to raise the average hourly price for electricity in Alberta by $2.48/MWh or about 4.2%, which raised the cost of electricity for Alberta consumers during the six-year period by approximately $1.14 billion. Based on an earlier version of this paper, the AESO was instructed by Alberta’s utilities regulator to cease publication of the HTR.

Incumbent's Bane or Gain? Renewable Support and Strategic Behavior in Electricity Markets

Ali Darudi and Hannes Weigt

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.41.SI1.adar
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Incumbent firms play a decisive role in the success of renewable support policies. Their investments in renewables as well as their operational strategies for their conventional CO2 emitting technologies affect the transition to a sustainable energy system. We use a game theoretical framework to analyze incumbents’ reactions to different renewable support policies, namely feed-in tariff (FIT), feed-in premium (FIP), and auction-based policies. We show that a regulator should choose a support scheme based on concerns about either market power or emission abatement: in FIP-based policies, the incumbent’s strategic behavior leads to lower CO2 emissions, but a higher market price compared to FIT-based policies. Furthermore, for FIP-based policies, the regulator might want to incentivize incumbents directly (to further reduce CO2 emissions) or newcomers (to further reduce market power). Particularly in FIP-based auctions, incumbents have the incentive to obtain all auctioned capacity, which could lead to an unchanged market price despite the entrance of new capacity into the market.

Selling and Saving Energy: Energy Efficiency Obligations in Liberalized Energy Markets

Louis-Gaëtan Giraudet, Matthieu Glachant, and Jean-Philippe Nicolaï

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.41.SI1.lgir
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In Europe, energy efficiency obligations are imposed on energy retailers competing in liberalized energy markets. They comply by subsidizing energy efficiency investments made by energy end-users from within or outside their customer base. We develop a model describing how competition in the energy market affects compliance strategies. We find that, instead of selecting the most cost-effective investments options, firms may either target their most elastic customers, which enables them to increase their retail price, or their competitor’s customers, which protects their sales. Allowing firms to trade obligations can restore cost-effectiveness, but reduces consumer surplus. Overall, the degree of flexibility that should be incorporated into such programs crucially depends on the degree of heterogeneity across investment costs and the relative weights governments assign to cost-effectiveness and consumer surplus.


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