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Renewable Energy and Market Power in the Italian Electricity Market


  • Simona Bigerna, Carlo Andrea Bollino and Paolo Polinori


The Italian electricity market has been characterized by a remarkable increase of renewable energy source (RES) supply since 2010, which has determined relevant structural changes in the electric system. Noticeably, during favorable weather conditions, such as sunny or windy hours, increasing supply of RES generation exerts a downward pressure to the formation of the equilibrium price in the market and at the same time forces an increase in line congestion. The aim of this paper is to investigate whether such RES increase has affected the exercise of market power in the Italian Power Exchange (IPEX), explicitly considering transmission line congestion. We employ our approach to construct the residual demand curve and to disentangle the measure of the unilateral market power from the congestion rent. We compute the zonal Lerner index during the period 2009 to 2013 for the main generators in the Italian day-ahead market and we analyze the correlation among market power, congestion and RES supply. In particular, we investigate whether RES development has affected congestion and firm's strategic behavior, empirically testing whether structural changes have occurred in market power or in congestion rent. Our results show that the exercise of market power has been considerably weakened during peak hours by the massive competition of RES, but it has been surprisingly reinforced in specific off-peak hours, in the absence of solar RES and in specific zones, where congestion yields market splitting. These findings support pro-competitive market regulation and reform strategies, and shed light on the impact of RES and congestion on market outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Simona Bigerna, Carlo Andrea Bollino and Paolo Polinori, 2016. "Renewable Energy and Market Power in the Italian Electricity Market," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Bollino-M).
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:ej37-si2-polinori

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Severin Borenstein, 2002. "The Trouble With Electricity Markets: Understanding California's Restructuring Disaster," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 191-211, Winter.
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    5. Simona Bigerna, Carlo Andrea Bollino and Paolo Polinori, 2016. "Market Power and Transmission Congestion in the Italian Electricity Market," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
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    Cited by:

    1. Rossetto, F. & Grossi, L. & Pollitt, M., 2019. "Assessing Market Power in the Italian Electricity Market: A synthetic supply approach," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1975, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Graf, Christoph & Quaglia, Federico & Wolak, Frank A., 2021. "(Machine) learning from the COVID-19 lockdown about electricity market performance with a large share of renewables," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 105(C).
    3. Newbery, David & Pollitt, Michael G. & Ritz, Robert A. & Strielkowski, Wadim, 2018. "Market design for a high-renewables European electricity system," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 695-707.
    4. Bigerna, Simona, 2018. "Estimating temperature effects on the Italian electricity market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 257-269.
    5. Angelica, Gianfreda & Lucia, Parisio & Matteo, Pelagatti, 2017. "The RES-induced Switching Effect Across Fossil Fuels: An Analysis of the Italian Day-Ahead and Balancing Prices and Their Connected Costs," Working Papers 360, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 03 Feb 2017.
    6. Marcantonini, Claudio & Valero, Vanessa, 2017. "Renewable energy and CO2 abatement in Italy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 600-613.
    7. Ignacio Mauleón, 2020. "Economic Issues in Deep Low-Carbon Energy Systems," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(16), pages 1-32, August.
    8. Simshauser, P., 2021. "Renewable Energy Zones in Australia’s National Electricity Market," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 2119, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

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