Caporin, M., Fontini, F., Segato, S. (2021).

Has the EU-ETS Financed the Energy Transition of the Italian Power System?. International Journal of Financial Studies, Volume 9(4), 71.



This paper focuses on the relationship between the European Union Emission Trading System allowances’ prices and the Italian electricity price, aiming at assessing whether such a mechanism has been a driver for the decarbonization of the power sector. To this aim, we calculate the long-run relationships between energy prices, natural gas prices and allowances’ prices, through a VECM model, distinguishing between peak and off-peak prices. The analysis is carried out for the third phase of the EU-ETS, which started in 2013, and for two-year rolling windows that account for changes over time of the pass-through rates. It is shown that the natural gas price has a high pass-through rate of roughly 70%, which is increasing over time. On the contrary, the pass-through rate of the allowances’ price is as low as 7% for the wholesale electricity price, being slightly more and less for the peak and off-peak prices, respectively. However, this rate has been substantially changing over time, starting from a high level and falling significantly, becoming negative in the recent years. This could signal that the EU-ETS has been increasingly more effective in endogenizing emission costs for power producers, inducing them to reduce their production costs associated with emissions by means of a change in technologies. However, the analysis of the impulse response functions hardly supports this finding, eventually casting doubts on the effectiveness of the EU-ETS in Italy to drive the transition toward a less carbon-intensive power supply.