Start-up Costs and Market Power: Lessons from the Renewable Energy Transition

74 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2020 Last revised: 22 Sep 2022

See all articles by Akshaya Jha

Akshaya Jha

Carnegie Mellon University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Gordon Leslie

Monash University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 1, 2021

Abstract

Firms expect to recover the fixed costs incurred when starting production via future markups above their variable costs. We develop a framework to measure market power that accounts for start-up costs, using it to demonstrate that static price-cost markups can substantially overstate the rents captured by firms due to market power. This framework is applied to an electricity market with world-leading rooftop solar penetration rates, where power plants frequently stop and start production in response to changes in output from solar panels. We estimate that increases in solar capacity correspond to increases in the operating profits earned by fossil-fuel-fired plants because suppliers have a greater ability to exercise market power at sunset – competition is weakened because plants displaced by solar during the day must incur start-up costs to compete in the evening. The dynamic impacts of rooftop solar penetration on market outcomes speak to the growing importance of designing markets that properly account for the benefits associated with technologies that can rapidly adjust production or consumption.

Keywords: Start-up Costs, Dynamic Production Function, Market Power, Wholesale Electricity Markets, Renewables, Rooftop Solar, Intermittency

JEL Classification: L11, L13, L94, Q41, Q42

Suggested Citation

Jha, Akshaya and Leslie, Gordon, Start-up Costs and Market Power: Lessons from the Renewable Energy Transition (August 1, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3603627 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3603627

Akshaya Jha (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Gordon Leslie

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Faculty of Business and Economics
900 Dandenong Rd
Caulfield East, Victoria 3145
Australia

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