"Relevance of Risk Capital and Margining for the Valuation of Power Plants: Cash Requirements for Credit Risk Mitigation"
Author: Lang J., Madlener R.
In the electricity sector, most of the trades are still done in the OTC market without direct mitigation of credit risk. Newer discussions fuelled by the European Commission (EUCOM 2009a,b) show that there is a political will to enforce a stronger collateralization policy on all European derivatives markets, including the OTC markets. This is meant to secure the markets and prohibit arbitrage on regulatory regimes as a consequence of the financial crisis. However, collateralization does not come for free. In this study, we analyze the capital needs for margining based on commodity prices of 2007- 2009 in conjunction with the clearing rules for margining of the European Commodity Clearing AG (ECC). We apply different hedging scenarios to state-of-the-art coal- and gas-fired power plants, and the sale of outright power in the German market. Based on the set-up of our analysis, we show that in absolute terms especially outright power has quite significant cash needs for trading, whereas coaland gas-fired power plants have less than half the needs of outright power. In relative terms for the fossil-fired power plants, we find that coal-fired power plants have a relative advantage in comparison to gas-fired plants. The need for risk capital per MWhth of coal-fired power plants is comparably lower. A major reason for this is the standard notation of coal in US-$ per ton: As one ton of coal contains approx. 7 MWh of thermal energy (which is the relevant unit for the calculation of the fuel consumption), the price change for coal in US-$ (or €) per MWh is only approximately one seventh compared to the notation in metric tons. This translates into comparably lower margining needs for the fuel variation margin of a coal-fired power plant vs. a gas-fired power plant, offering a variety of further research questions.
Key words: Credit risk mitigation, margining, collateralization, risk capital, power plant valuation, portfolio optimization
JEL Classification Nos.: G12, G32, L94, O16
Year of publishing: 2010
published in/at: FCN Working Paper
Volume/Page: No. 1/2010, February