Journal of Regulatory Economics

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 194–220 | Cite as

Appropriate contract durations in the German markets for on-line reserve capacity

  • Sebastian JustEmail author
Original Article


This paper explores the economic implications of different contract durations in markets for on-line (primary and secondary) reserve capacity in Germany with the crucial feature of separate markets for spot energy and reserve capacity provision. The analysis is based on an equilibrium model developed by Just and Weber (Energy Econo 30:3198–3221, 2008) for reserve markets. It reveals the implicit trade-off for the bidders and implicit interdependencies between the reserve and the spot markets. Even if the markets are not explicitly coordinated, they are interrelated through the dispatch decisions of the power plant owners. The paper concludes that the current German reserve market design is inefficient and should be improved. The results clearly show that shorter periods (with resulting lower variations in overall electricity demand) lead to more efficient dispatch and market results. Not only prices in the reserve capacity markets are expected to be lower, but also spot market prices. As these benefits can be partially reaped by owners of large generation portfolios also under longer contract durations, it discriminates against smaller generation companies and can potentially deter market participation. Further, the paper takes a broader perspective and discusses security concerns against shorter contract durations. It is shown that the opportunity costs character of the reserve market implies sufficient incentives for supplying online reserve capacity. The concerns do not appear to be predominant and it should be possible to manage them appropriately.


Electricity markets Contract duration Power systems reserve Ancillary service Primary reserve Secondary reserve Spinning reserve Opportunity costs Equilibrium model 

JEL Classification

L94 L11 D41 D44 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair of Energy Economics and Management ScienceUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany

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