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Merchant renewables and the valuation of peaking plant in energy-only markets

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  • Paul Simshauser

    (Griffith Business School, Griffith University)

Abstract

Merchant renewables are a new asset class. With historically high cost structures and low wholesale prices associated with merit order effects, continuity of entry has been reliant on Renewable Portfolio Standards or other policy initiatives such as government-initiated Contracts-for-Differences. But in Australia's National Electricity Market, sharply falling costs of renewables and volatile wholesale market conditions over the period 2017–2020 led to a surprising number of merchant intermittent renewable investments. Adding to the merchant renewable fleet are older wind plants whose inaugural long-dated PPAs recently matured. Rolling over PPAs is possible, but not necessarily optimal. In this article, a merchant gas turbine, merchant wind, and an integrated portfolio comprising both plants are valued in the NEM's South Australian region. Asset valuations reveal surprising results. The modelling sequence shows stand-alone gas turbine valuation metrics suffer from modest levels of missing money, that merchant wind can commit to some level of forward (fixed volume) swap contracts in-spite of intermittent production, but the combined portfolio tightens overall valuation metrics significantly. Above all, the combined portfolio is financially tractable, overcoming the missing money for a gas turbine plant undertaking peaking duties. In a NEM region where intermittent renewable market share exceeds 50%, this suggests the energy-only, real-time gross pool design may yet be deemed suitable vis-à-vis meeting environmental objectives and Resource Adequacy.
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  • Paul Simshauser, 2020. "Merchant renewables and the valuation of peaking plant in energy-only markets," Working Papers EPRG2002, Energy Policy Research Group, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:enp:wpaper:eprg2002
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    4. Simshauser, P., 2021. "Rooftop Solar PV and the Peak Load Problem in the NEM’s Queensland Region," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 2180, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    5. Yasir Alsaedi & Gurudeo Anand Tularam & Victor Wong, 2021. "Impact of the Nature of Energy Management and Responses to Policies Regarding Solar and Wind Pricing: A Qualitative Study of the Australian Electricity Markets," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 11(3), pages 191-205.
    6. Webb, Jeremy & de Silva, H. Nadeeka & Wilson, Clevo, 2020. "The future of coal and renewable power generation in Australia: A review of market trends," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 363-378.
    7. Paul Simshauser, 2020. "Merchant utilities and boundaries of the firm: vertical integration in energy-only markets," Working Papers EPRG2008, Energy Policy Research Group, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
    8. Arango-Aramburo, Santiago & Bernal-García, Sebastián & Larsen, Erik R., 2021. "Renewable energy sources and the cycles in deregulated electricity markets," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 223(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Merchant renewables; peaking plant; power plant valuations;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General

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