Preparing for resilience: analysing and treating risk

Resilience of infrastructure is moving up the policy agenda, according to a report published this year by the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC). The NIC considers resilience to be characterised by an ability to ‘Anticipate, Resist, Absorb, Recover, Adapt and Transform’. Dr Rupert Booth, Oxera Economic Adviser, examines the first element—‘Anticipate’. He considers the role of the economist in working with executives on the analysis and treatment of risk as the first step in creating a resilience strategy

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RIIO-2 Final Determinations: how final?

Having published its Draft Determinations (DDs) in July 2020,1 on 8 December 2020, Ofgem published its Final Determinations (FDs) for the RIIO-2 price controls for the GB electricity transmission (ET), gas transmission (GT), and gas distribution (GD) sectors, and...

Making a difference: supporting investment in low-carbon electricity generation

The Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme is one of the UK government’s main mechanisms for supporting investment in low-carbon electricity generation. In the last two CfD allocation rounds, offshore wind generators secured 95% of the available support at much lower prices than previously achieved. What does this mean for the design of the scheme in the future? Is there any merit in guaranteeing some support for less developed (and more costly) technologies, and what other objectives are policymakers considering when choosing technologies to compete with each other for CfDs?

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Decarbonising transport: a just transition?

In March, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) published ‘Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge’, a policy paper outlining current and planned policies needed to decarbonise the UK’s domestic transport sector. We provide a commentary on some of the DfT’s strategic priorities—the shift to active and public transport, as well as the decarbonisation of the passenger vehicle fleet. We then discuss some of the wider social implications raised by the proposed measures

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Taking Britain to net zero: Ofgem’s decarbonisation action plan

On 3 February Ofgem, the energy regulator for Great Britain, published its decarbonisation action plan to support the UK in achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Outlining Ofgem’s role in facilitating decarbonisation, the plan lists the trade-offs faced and nine actions that the regulator will take. We look at what the plan says and its implications

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How could ownership affect performance?

In the decade since the global financial crisis, Western Europe has seen increased calls for changes in the ownership of essential service assets. For example, during the UK’s 2019 general election, the Labour Party campaigned for the nationalisation of key strategic industries such as energy, water and telecoms. We ask how ownership can affect operational incentives and outcomes, and explore the implications for current ownership models and independent regulation

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RIIO-ED2 framework decision

This note summarises the key aspects of the RIIO-ED2 framework decision; outlines the key strategic issues facing the sector that Ofgem is considering; and provides a commentary on what this means for companies, based on Oxera’s initial review of the document.

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Political control of state-owned utilities in the UK

The UK Labour Party’s proposal to nationalise core utilities has renewed debate about whether nationalisation is a good or a bad thing. Tim Tutton, Associate at the Centre for Competition Policy (University of East Anglia, UK), takes a different approach. Focusing on the issue of political control, he explores whether lessons can be learned—from both the nationalised era and the privatised era—and how any future (potential) nationalisations might be made to work more effectively than in the past

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Risky business: political uncertainty and the cost of capital for regulated firms

Statements by politicians about nationalising or intervening in the functioning of regulated industries have attracted substantial media attention in recent times, leading to an increase in political and regulatory risk for regulated industries. A case study focusing on National Grid, the energy transmission company in the UK, suggests that increased political and regulatory risk can affect the valuation of regulated utilities through a combination of lower expected cash flows and a higher cost of capital

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State aid spotlight on tax: the General Court’s judgments on Fiat and Starbucks

In 2015, the European Commission ordered Starbucks and Fiat to each pay €20m–€30m in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, respectively, as their tax arrangements were found to constitute illegal state aid. On 24 September 2019, the General Court upheld the Commission’s Fiat decision, but annulled the Starbucks decision. What were the key economic issues in these cases, and what are the implications of the judgments?

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Blinded by the sun: the future of renewables disputes

The deployment of renewable energy technologies looks set to continue to grow. However, it can be challenging to integrate these technologies into existing policy frameworks and energy systems. Renewables have also been prone to legal disputes, as illustrated by recent cases brought against the Spanish government. As such disputes become more commonplace, a range of economic, financial and public policy issues will need to be examined

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