In ever more globalised and automated economies the role of electricity is increasingly important as a driver for economic prosperity. Reliable and affordable supply of electricity is essential for the competitiveness of global industrial product markets and a necessary ingredient in the daily workings of modern societies. At the same time, environmental impacts of energy usage are one of the most difficult global policy challenges. Reliable access to affordable electricity supply with acceptable environmental impacts is only achieved with comprehensive and carefully balanced policy actions to establish the necessary incentive-based framework. To that end, liberalisation of electricity markets is a development path and policy option that has been implemented or considered in all IEA member countries.
Through competition in liberalised markets incentives are created to drive for more efficient operation of electricity systems and more efficient investment decisions in terms of timing, sizing, siting and choice of technology. Even if liberalised markets leave critical policy challenges un-resolved, the transparency created by competition tends to improve the framework for targeted policy actions to address issues such as environmental quality and reliability. After up to ten years’ experience with liberalised electricity markets and even
longer in some cases important lessons can now be drawn from some pioneering countries and regions. Theoretical principles for successful liberalisation can now be augmented with more qualified policy prescriptions based on real-world experience.
Even if some pioneering markets have operated with considerable success for a number of years, liberalisation has shown it self not to be a single event, but rather a long process that requires on-going government commitment. No markets are perfect, and they will continue to evolve and develop to match the needs of electricity systems - systems that are at the same time undergoing considerable change.
This book addresses the main principles of successful liberalisation with actual experiences and outcomes, hopefully providing decision makers within government and industry with policy prescriptions on the key issues. One point of departure is to ask whether liberalisation of electricity markets is feasible – that it, has it been possible to develop a functional market without jeopardizing reliability and other public policy priorities. Secondly, if liberalisation has worked in that it has been able to achieve this balance, has it delivered the expected outcome in terms of real economic benefit. An affirmative answer to these questions leads to the books’ focus on what issues are critical and what approaches best lead to successful electricity markets, allowing the book to point to best practices.