IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Strengths and Weaknesses of the British Market Model


  • Newbery, D.


The UK privatized the electricity supply industry from 1989 in the expectation that private ownership and incentive regulation would invest and operate sufficiently more efficiently to offset the higher cost of private finance. This was achieved in the first two decades, assisted by spare capacity, contract-based entry of new efficient and cheap CCGTs, and regulatory pressure on transmission and distribution companies. The climate change imperative to decarbonize requires massive durable and very capital-intensive investment that casts doubt on the liberalised financing model. In the past 30 years, much has been learned about mitigating market power, the failings of an energy-only market, and the potential distortions of poorly designed prices for renewables and tariffs for networks. Innovation has been successfully stimulated though competitions. Efficiency, falling renewable costs and the carbon tax have almost completely driven coal out of the system.

Suggested Citation

  • Newbery, D., 2019. "Strengths and Weaknesses of the British Market Model," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1917, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1917
    Note: dmgn

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Green, Richard J & Joanne Evans, 2003. "Why did British electricity prices fall after 1998?," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 92, Royal Economic Society.
    2. Michael G. Pollitt & Lewis Dale, 2018. "Restructuring the Chinese Electricity Supply Sector – How industrial electricity prices are determined in a liberalized power market: lessons from Great Britain," Working Papers EPRG 1839, Energy Policy Research Group, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    British electricity supply; reforms; financing; renewables; tariffs; nuclear;

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D47 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Market Design
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1917. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jake Dyer). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.