Journal of Regulatory Economics

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 290–327 | Cite as

Congestion management in power systems

Long-term modeling framework and large-scale application
  • Joachim Bertsch
  • Simeon Hagspiel
  • Lisa Just
Original Article


In liberalized power systems, generation and transmission services are unbundled, but remain tightly interlinked. Congestion management in the transmission network is of crucial importance for the efficiency of these inter-linkages. Different regulatory designs have been suggested, analyzed and followed, such as uniform zonal pricing with redispatch or nodal pricing. However, the literature has either focused on the short-term efficiency of congestion management or specific issues of timing investments. In contrast, this paper presents a generalized and flexible economic modeling framework based on a decomposed inter-temporal equilibrium model including generation, transmission, as well as their inter-linkages. The model covers short-run operation and long-run investments and hence, allows to analyze short and long-term efficiency of different congestion management designs that vary with respect to the definition of market areas, the regulation and organization of TSOs, the way of managing congestion besides grid expansion, and the type of cross-border capacity allocation. We are able to identify and isolate implicit frictions and sources of inefficiencies in the different regulatory designs, and to provide a comparative analysis including a benchmark against a first-best welfare-optimal result. To demonstrate the applicability of our framework, we calibrate and numerically solve our model for a detailed representation of the Central Western European (CWE) region, consisting of 70 nodes and 174 power lines. Analyzing six different congestion management designs until 2030, we show that compared to the first-best benchmark, i.e., nodal pricing, inefficiencies of up to 4.6% arise. Inefficiencies are mainly driven by the approach of determining cross-border capacities as well as the coordination of transmission system operators’ activities.


Power system economics Unbundling Congestion management Transmission pricing Inter-temporal equilibrium model 

JEL Classification

C61 C63 D47 E61 L50 Q40 



We thank Felix Höffler for helpful comments, as well as Tom Brown and Energynautics for their cooperation to realize the large-scale application. The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy based on ruling of the Deutsche Bundestag. The financial support through Grant No. 03ESP239 is gratefully acknowledged. Furthermore, J. Bertsch and S. Hagspiel acknowledge funding of the German research society DFG through Grant No. HO 5108/2-1. The responsibility for the content of this publication lies solely with the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.ewi Energy Research and Scenarios gGmbHCologneGermany

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