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Cournot versus supply functions: what does the data tell us?

  • Bert WILLEMS
  • Hannes WEIGT

The liberalization of the electricity sector increases the need for realistic and robust models of the oligopolistic interaction of electricity firms. This paper compares the two most popular models: Cournot and the Supply Function Equilibrium (SFE), and tests which model describes the observed market data best. Using identical demand and supply specifications, both models are calibrated to the German electricity market by varying the contract cover of firms. Our results show that each model explains an identical fraction of the observed price variation. We therefore suggest using Cournot models for short term analysis, as more market details, such as network constraints, can be accommodated. As the SFE model is less sensitive to the choice of the calibration parameters, it might be more appropriate for long term analysis, such as the study of a merger.

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Paper provided by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën in its series Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers with number ces0720.

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Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces0720
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  1. Allaz Blaise & Vila Jean-Luc, 1993. "Cournot Competition, Forward Markets and Efficiency," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-16, February.
  2. Klemperer, Paul D & Meyer, Margaret A, 1989. "Supply Function Equilibria in Oligopoly under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1243-77, November.
  3. Ventosa, Mariano & Baillo, Alvaro & Ramos, Andres & Rivier, Michel, 2005. "Electricity market modeling trends," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(7), pages 897-913, May.
  4. Bert Willems, 2002. "Modeling Cournot Competition in an Electricity Market with Transmission Constraints," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 95-125.
  5. Holmberg, Pär, 2004. "Unique Supply Function Equilibrium with Capacity Constraints," Working Paper Series 2004:20, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  6. Juan Delgado, 2006. "Coalition-proof supply function equilibria under capacity constraints," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 219-229, September.
  7. Jordi Brandts & Paul Pezanis-Christou & Arthur Schram, 2003. "Competitions with Forward Contracts: A Laboratory Analysis Motivated by Electricity Market Design," Working Papers 66, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  8. Ramteen Sioshansi & Shmuel Oren, 2007. "How good are supply function equilibrium models: an empirical analysis of the ERCOT balancing market," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 1-35, February.
  9. James B. Bushnell & Erin T. Mansur & Celeste Saravia, 2008. "Vertical Arrangements, Market Structure, and Competition: An Analysis of Restructured US Electricity Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 237-66, March.
  10. Green, Richard J, 1996. "Increasing Competition in the British Electricity Spot Market," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 205-16, June.
  11. Bolle, Friedel, 1992. "Supply function equilibria and the danger of tacit collusion : The case of spot markets for electricity," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 94-102, April.
  12. Hu, X. & Ralph, D. & Ralph, E.K. & Bardsley, P. & Ferris, M.C., 2004. "Electricity Generation with Looped Transmission Networks: Bidding to an ISO," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0470, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  13. Ross Baldick & Ryan Grant & Edward Kahn, 2004. "Theory and Application of Linear Supply Function Equilibrium in Electricity Markets," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 143-167, 03.
  14. Joanne Evans & Richard Green, 2003. "Why did British electricity prices fall after 1998?," Working Papers 0307, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  15. Green, Richard & Newbery, David M G, 1991. "Competition in the British Electricity Spot Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 557, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Ciarreta, Aitor & Gutierrez-Hita, Carlos, 2006. "Supply function vs. quantity competition in supergames," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 773-783, July.
  17. Severin Borenstein & James Bushnell & Christopher R. Knittel, 1999. "Market Power in Electricity Markets: Beyond Concentration Measures," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 65-88.
  18. Holmberg, Pär, 2005. "Asymmetric Supply Function Equilibrium with Constant Marginal Costs," Working Paper Series 2005:16, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  19. Neuhoff, Karsten & Barquin, Julian & Boots, Maroeska G. & Ehrenmann, Andreas & Hobbs, Benjamin F. & Rijkers, Fieke A.M. & Vazquez, Miguel, 2005. "Network-constrained Cournot models of liberalized electricity markets: the devil is in the details," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 495-525, May.
  20. Delgado, Juan & Moreno, Diego, 2004. "Coalition-proof supply function equilibria in oligopoly," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 231-254, February.
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