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Do Pay-As-Bid Auctions Favor Collusion? Evidence from Germany's market for reserve power

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  • Heim, Sven
  • Götz, Georg

Abstract

We analyze a drastic price increase in the German auction market for reserve power that did not appear to be driven by increased costs. Studying the market structure and bidding strategies using micro-level bidding data, we find a concentrated market with highly pivotal suppliers in an environment with completely inelastic demand and high entry barriers. We provide descriptive evidence that the price increase was triggered by an abuse of the “guess the clearing price” principle of discriminatory auctions via repeated pretended “bad guessing” of the marginal bid by the most dominant supplier. As intentional “bad guessing” of marginal bids is hard to prove, this suggests that the auction design is crucial for the competition authority's monitoring power – an issue that is often neglected in the discussion on the properties of auction designs. In fact, given regulatory threats, the deemed main advantage of pay-as-bid auctions over uniform price auctions and the popular belief that they reduce dominant suppliers' withholding incentives and diminish their ability to tacitly collude may be questioned in non-static settings. This suggests that pay-as-bid auctions may not necessarily reduce incentives for strategic capacity withholding and collusive behavior, but can even increase them when market power is high and demand inelastic, which is the case in virtually all energy markets.

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  • Heim, Sven & Götz, Georg, 2021. "Do Pay-As-Bid Auctions Favor Collusion? Evidence from Germany's market for reserve power," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:155:y:2021:i:c:s0301421521001774
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2021.112308
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    Cited by:

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    2. Fabian Ocker & Karl‐Martin Ehrhart & Marion Ott, 2018. "Bidding strategies in Austrian and German balancing power auctions," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(6), November.
    3. Bergler, Julian & Heim, Sven & Hüschelrath, Kai, 2017. "Strategic capacity withholding through failures in the German-Austrian electricity market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 210-221.
    4. Viehmann, Johannes & Lorenczik, Stefan & Malischek, Raimund, 2018. "Multi-unit multiple bid auctions in balancing markets: an agent-based Q-learning approach," EWI Working Papers 2018-3, Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universitaet zu Koeln (EWI).
    5. Casimir Lorenz & Clemens Gerbaulet, 2017. "Wind Providing Balancing Reserves: An Application to the German Electricity System of 2025," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1655, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Schillinger, Moritz, 2020. "Balancing-market design and opportunity cost: The Swiss case," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    7. Knaut, Andreas & Obermüller, Frank & Weiser, Florian, 2017. "Tender Frequency and Market Concentration in Balancing Power Markets," EWI Working Papers 2017-4, Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universitaet zu Koeln (EWI).
    8. Schillinger, Moritz & Weigt, Hannes, 2019. "Bidding into balancing markets in a hydro-dominated electricity system," Working papers 2019/13, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Auctions; Collusion; Market power; Energy markets; Reserve power; Balancing power;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D47 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Market Design
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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