Wholesale Electricity Market Design with Increasing Levels of Renewable Generation: Revenue Sufficiency and Long-Term Reliability

Michael Milligan, Bethany Frew, Aaron Townsend, Erik Ela, Audun Botterud, Todd Levin, Aaron Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus Citations


This paper discusses challenges that relate to assessing and properly incentivizing the resources necessary to ensure a reliable electricity system with growing penetrations of variable generation (VG). The output of VG (primarily wind and solar generation) varies over time and cannot be predicted precisely. Therefore, the energy from VG is not always guaranteed to be available at times when it is most needed. This means that its contribution towards resource adequacy can be significantly less than the contribution from traditional resources. Variable renewable resources also have near-zero variable costs, and with production-based subsidies they may even have negative offer costs. Because variable costs drive the spot price of energy, this can lead to reduced prices, sales, and therefore revenue for all resources within the energy market. The characteristics of VG can also result in increased price volatility as well as the need for more flexibility in the resource fleet in order to maintain system reliability. We explore both traditional and evolving electricity market designs in the United States that aim to ensure resource adequacy and sufficient revenues to recover costs when those resources are needed for long-term reliability. We also investigate how reliability needs may be evolving and discuss how VG may affect future electricity market designs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)26-38
Number of pages13
JournalElectricity Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-66188


  • Missing money problem
  • Resource adequacy
  • Variable generation
  • VG


Dive into the research topics of 'Wholesale Electricity Market Design with Increasing Levels of Renewable Generation: Revenue Sufficiency and Long-Term Reliability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this