The High Cost of Electricity Price Uncertainty
21 Pages Posted: 27 May 2020
Date Written: February 9, 2020
The rapid worldwide growth of renewable energy has been largely underpinned by government support over the past decade. The need for subsidy is fading as the cost of electricity from renewables converges with that from fossil fuels, but the withdrawal of support schemes will also remove the revenue stability offered by auction schemes and contracts for differences. Exposure to market risk (fluctuating wholesale electricity prices) raises the cost of capital for merchant renewable generators. Here we quantify the extent to which increased volatility in future power prices affects revenues by combining electricity market and stochastic discounted cash flow models. Renewable projects relying purely on merchant pricing may see cost of capital rise by two percentage points (e.g. from 7% to 9%). Unless new private or government actors provide hedging solutions, fewer developers will undertake new renewable energy projects, slowing the energy transition and increasing its cost to society.
Keywords: merchant risk, renewables, wind, solar, renewable energy, volatility, cost
JEL Classification: G10, Q4, Q42, Q48,
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