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Hydropower Economics




The key question in hydropower production is the time pattern of the use of the water in the reservoir. The water used to produce electricity today can alternatively be used tomorrow. The analysis of the operation of hydropower is therefore essentially a dynamic one. The paper introduces some basic models for social allocation of stored water over discrete time periods using non-linear programming assuming capacities of generation and transmission as given. Implications of constraints such as limited storage capacity and limited connector capacity for (international) trade are studied. Results are derived for water allocation and development of the electricity price over time. Graphical illustrations are provided in the two- period case and successive pairs of periods in a multi-period setting by means of the bathtub diagram. Thermal capacity is added to hydro and the optimal mix is studied. The walls of the hydro bathtub are extended endogenously by thermal capacities. Finally, the case of monopoly is studied.Different from standard monopoly behaviour of contracting output, if total available water is to be used, the strategy of a monopolist is to redistribute the use of water for electricity production over periods compared with the social optimal distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Førsund, Finn R., 2005. "Hydropower Economics," Memorandum 30/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2005_030

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Bushnell, James, 1999. "Transmission Rights and Market Power," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 12(8), pages 77-85, October.
    3. Severin Borenstein & James. Bushnell & Steven Stoft, 2000. "The Competitive Effects of Transmission Capacity in A Deregulated Electricity Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(2), pages 294-325, Summer.
    4. William W. Hogan, 1997. "A Market Power Model with Strategic Interaction in Electricity Networks," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 107-141.
    5. Severin Borenstein & James B. Bushnell & Frank A. Wolak, 2002. "Measuring Market Inefficiencies in California's Restructured Wholesale Electricity Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1376-1405, December.
    6. Stein W. Wallace & Stein-Erik Fleten, 2002. "Stochastic programming in energy," GE, Growth, Math methods 0201001, EconWPA, revised 13 Nov 2003.
    7. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1957. "Water Storage Policy in a Simplified Hydroelectric System," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 26, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    8. Crampes, C. & Moreaux, M., 2001. "Water resource and power generation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 975-997, May.
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    More about this item


    Hydropower; electricity; reservoir; water value; monopoly;

    JEL classification:

    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities

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