TILEC - Economic Governance and Legitimacy

TILEC Energy Research

The objective of this web page is to bundle the energy research output of TILEC, and to communicate our research interests to students and to people outside university.

Goals TILEC has identified the energy field as a core application area of its general research program.

TILEC aims to become an expertise center in the energy field in the following sub-areas:

  • Market design,
  • Competition policy and,
  • Regulation.

It studies both economic and legal aspects of energy markets.

  • TILEC will extend its expertise by conducting both academic research and contract research.
  • TILEC is also active in teaching master and PhD students on related topics and supervising master students with their thesis.

TILEC members with Energy inerests

Several people who are associated with TILEC work on energy related issues. On this page we list those people alphabetically.

Emanuel de CorteStarted writing a doctoral thesis on the electricity sector as an external researcher associated with TILEC in September 2008. His main research topic is the interaction of competition policy and regulation in the energy sector. He is supervised by Pierre Larouche and Bert Willems.
Leigh HancherWorks as a professor European Law at Tilburg University and as a practicing lawyer at Allen & Overy Amsterdam. During 2005-2008, she was also affiliated with the WRR, where she conducted a large scale project on investment in infrastructure. Leigh specializes in network industries.
Paul NillesenIs a senior consultant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, who is also an external PhD-student at Tilburg University. For his thesis, Paul studied the regulatory framework of electricity markets. He is supervised by Eric van Damme.
Michiel de NooijIs an external PhD-student at Tilburg University. He is working under the supervision of Eric van Damme and Bert Willems. Specific topics studied are the cost of supply interruptions of electricity, unbundling of the Dutch energy distribution companies and interconnector investments.
Eric van DammeHas a broad range of research interests covering i.a. the energy sector. He has co-authored a number of reports on the Dutch electricity industry on topics such as integrating the Benelux market, market liquidity, combined heat and power production, security of supply, and the pricing of import capacity. He has also been a member of the Market Surveillance Committee (MSC) of the Dutch Energy Regulator.
Bert WillemsHas worked as a post-doctoral researcher for TILEC on energy markets as of August 2008. He studied market power in the generation sector, the design of environmental markets and the effect of long-term contracts on risk sharing and investments. As of September 2008, he moved to a regular (tenure track) assistant professor position within FEB. Bert continues to be affiliated with TILEC.
Gijsbert ZwartIs a senior researcher at CPB who is also active at TILEC on a part-time basis (20%). He has a wide range of interests which includes the study of gas and electricity markets.

Extra Mural Fellows of TILEC

Machiel MulderIs an extra mural fellow at TILEC. He is Chief Economic Advisor of the Netherlands Office of Energy Regulation, a chamber of the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa ). Mulder is specialised in energy and environmental economics.

Related research at Tilburg University

Tilburg University has a group of researchers working on environmental economics and environmental law. Those people study diverse issues which are closely linked with energy issues, but are formally not part of TILEC. Please check their respective websites for more information.

Environmental and Resource Economics

Enivronmental and International Law

TILEC-Energy Publications

Please consult the general TILEC publications list and annual reports for recent information about publications and working papers, or check the personal websites of individual researchers. ( TILEC members with interests in energy research )

Energy Student Theses


  • Best terms of trade in gas markets: buyer power versus taxation (Ma-Thesis)

    StudentPeter van’t Westende
    SupervisorBert Willems
    Second readerChristoph Schottmüller

    Compares two mechanisms to improve Europe’s bargaining power vis a vis gas exporters. Large gas retail companies could create countervailing buyer power, and negotiate better gas prices for European consumers. Alternatively, European governments could create a competitive gas market and tax the use of natural gas, in order to extract some rents from gas exporters. Peter shows that in his model, countervailing buyer power gives better market outcomes than taxing imports. 

  • Strategic and Hedging Motives to Sell Forward: the Role of Demand Growth, number of firms and
    Transparency. (Ma-Thesis)

    StudentEijkel and Moraga-Gonzalez
    SupervisorBert Willems
    Second readerChristoph Schottmüller

    Show that energy firms have two reasons to sell forward contracts: (1) a hedging motive: firms can reduce the variance of their profit uncertainty and (2) a strategic motive: firms commit to be aggressive by selling contracts forward. They show that as market structure affects both motives differently, changes in market structure can be used to empirically determine the importance of both effects. In her paper, Jingwen Zhang tests how other market parameters such as demand growth affect those motives. She shows that empirical estimates should take demand growth into account.  

  • Investment in Underground Gas Storage: A Real Options Approach (Ma-Thesis)

    StudentRima Rumbauskaitė 
    SupervisorGijsbert Zwart
    Second readerBert Willems

    Seasonal Gas storage is an important part of the gas market chain. It secures the supply of gas and ensures seasonal gas flexibility. In her thesis, Rima Rumbauskaitė models when it is optimal to convert a depleted gas field to gas storage facility using a real options approach. In some cases it is optimal not to fully deplete the gas field, but to keep the some gas as “cushion gas”, which is needed for the storage to function well. In other cases it might be optimal to fully deplete the field, and not to convert the field immediately into a storage facility.

  • Optimal Government Auction Design for Offshore Wind Procurement: Can transmission subsidies spur competition? (Ma-Thesis)

    StudentAnya Myagkota
    SupervisorBert Willems
    Second readerFlorian Schütt

    The development of off-shore wind energy is important to obtain a more sustainable energy system with lower levels of emissions of greenhouse gasses. Currently those off-shore wind energy farms still need government support in order to be economically viable. One efficient way to allocate subsidies is to set-up an auction for subsidies. Anya Myagkota uses auction theory to study the optimal design of such subsidy schemes. When is it optimal to differentiate those subsidies based on observable cost differences, such as the distance to the coast?

  • The price effects of market coupling (Ba-Thesis)

    StudentSander Coenraad
    SupervisorEric van Damme
    Second readerBert Willems

    In 2006, the French, Belgian, and Dutch power exchanges started to jointly allocate cross-border transmission capacity. The power exchanges pooled information on energy demand and supply in each country in order determine the optimal usage of cross border capacity. Markets were coupled. Sander Coenraad studies empirically the effect of market coupling on end-user prices by comparing Dutch and British electricity prices. He found that Dutch end-user prices increased during peak hours, but constant in off-peak hours.

  • The effect of European liberalisation policy on electricity prices an empirical study (Ma-Thesis)

    StudentMaarten Ter Keurst
    SupervisorLapo Filistrucchi
    Second readerBert Willems

    Maarten Ter Keurst studied the effect of the electricity market reform in Europe. He collects data for 7 countries and finds that higher degrees of market opening and the presence of more retail companies are associated with lower energy prices. He further shows that unbundling of the network operator initially raises prices, but over time this effect is reduced.


  • Long Term contracts and bargaining power in the gas market (Ma-Thesis)

    StudentWei Zhang 
    SupervisorBert Willems
    Second readerFlorian Schuett

    Wei Zhang shows that investments in alternative forms of energy supply (such as green energy) can improve the bargaining power of energy importing countries vis a vis energy exporters. However, this comes at a cost if those alternatives are more expensive than the production cost for energy exporters. She then shows that long-term gas contract can be used by buyers to lock-in a good energy price without actually having to build alternative supplies. A credible threat to do so, is sufficient.

  • The Dutch market for spot power exchanges: Competition or regulation? (Ma-Thesis)

    StudentDenisse Halm

    Eric van Damme

    Machiel Mulder

    Second readerBert Willems

    Should power exchanges be regulated? Denisse Halm studied whether the Dutch power exchange, APX, has a natural monopoly, and whether this could be a cause for regulatory intervention. She looked at the level of allocative, productive and dynamic efficiency of APX by comparing its fee structure and performance to that of its peers in other European countries, and comparing the number of employees in relation to the volume traded on the market and the number of participants. She believes that regulation is necessary in this market because of the power exchange's crucial role in aiding the efficient use of the transmission capacity on the grid as well as the efficient use of the interconnection capacity with Belgium, but further (quantitative) research is required to prove or reject this conclusion. 

  • Comparing taxes and permits in an imperfect competitive market (Ma-Thesis)

    StudentThijs Jong

    Bert Willems

    Herman Vollebergh

    Second readerAmrita Ray Chaudhuri

    Thijs Jong compares two regulatory instruments to fight climate change: tradable permits and taxes. He does so under the assumption that (1) the product market is imperfectly competitive and (2) that the environmental regulator is unable to take market power into account when it designs its regulatory goals. Thijs shows that taxes might outperform tradable permits.

  •  Absolute emission targets versus intensity targets (Ba-Thesis)

    StudentQian Miao
    SupervisorBert Willems
    Second readerAmrita Ray Chaudhuri

    Qian Miao discussed whether countries should use absolute emission targets, or should instead rely on intensity targets. If governments are risk averse with respect to the total abatement costs, they the type of target, will depend on the correlation of emissions and total GDP. Qian then uses recent data to empirically test which regulation would be optimal for 13 countries.

  • The effects the Cobra cable (Ba-Thesis)

    StudentYorrick Celis
    SupervisorBert Willems
    Second readerAmrita Ray Chaudhuri

    Yorrick Celis discusses the effect of the planned Cobra cable on competition in the Netherlands. In particular he looks at the possible effects of the cable on the further integration of wind energy in the European electricity network. 

  • Comparing and assessing the regulatory frameworks for TenneT and GTS (Ma-Thesis)

    StudentRuud Wilderink
    SupervisorBert Willems
    Second readerCedric Argenton

    Ruud Wilderink describes the regulatory framework of TenneT and GTS, the Dutch network operators for electricity and gas. One of the differences is the fact that TenneT receives a compensation for demand variation, while GTS faces a volume risk. Ruud explores the academic literature, and studies whether this different is justified. 

Energy Research Projects

Essent ProjectEssent N.V. , a leading Dutch energy company, is sponsoring TILEC's research on energy issues. Part of the money is used to conduct "pure" academic research, whereas another part is devoted to research with a more applied nature. Essent support facilitated the TILEC contribution to the seminar series on energy economics.
Unecom ProjectTILEC was one of the founders of UNECOM , an interdisciplinary project grouping scholars in economics, business administration and law from five universities (Bremen, Bochum, Delft, Tilburg and Vienna) to investigate ownership unbundling of energy networks. TILEC extramural fellow Gert Brunekreeft , (now at Jacobs University Bremen) is the project leader. In the framework of this project Eckart Ehlers writes his PhD thesis.
Marie Curie Fellowship projectThe European Commission awarded Bert Willems a Marie Curie grant. This grant will allow Bert to conduct research on investments in electricity markets. Bert will study how generator firms make their investment decisions in a competitive electricity market and whether governments should regulate the security of supply.
Tennet ProjectEric van Damme and Bert Willems have written a report for Tennet N.V. on the regulatory framework proposed for the fourth regulatory period. They discuss whether the frontier shift can be applied to Tennet's capital cost.
NMSA ProjectBastian Henze, Charles Noussair and Bert Willems have designed an economic experiment to compare different regulatory designs of regulating investments in new gas pipelines. Two treatments are considered: a standard cost plus regulation, and a regulatory holiday system in which shippers can buy long term transportation capacity.

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