ICIS Analysis: California could benefit from unsold allowances

27 June 2016

California’s cap-and trade program experienced a shock after only 11% of the offered volumes in the May auction sold. The auction brought in a mere $10m to state coffers, causing legislatures to express concern about the health of the current carbon market.

ICIS, a global carbon market analytics firm, examined the potential impacts of how the 38.6m unsold California state-owned allowances from the first two auctions could re-enter the market depending on the auction results in the second half of 2016.

That analysis shows California could profit from the low current demand if market participants returned to future California-run auctions. The auction revenue would increase by $41.6m over the next three years, but it may rise by $148.7m if demand at the next two auctions remains low. Those higher revenue amounts are the result of an escalating floor price in the cap-and-trade market and the state-mandated delay of unsold volume.  All number are in relation to the floor price of the certain year. Potential price increases above the floor price could lead to even higher revenues.

However, in the short term, low auction demand has trimmed nearly $599m from the state’s cap-and-trade auction revenues. There is a risk that the remaining two auctions could also see low demand as prices remain low on the secondary market.

In an extreme scenario, California auction revenue could decline by $1.42b in 2016 if a total of 56.4m state-owned allowances went unsold over the August and November auctions. The state could eventually recoup that money if demand returned to future auctions.

Unsold state-owned allowances return to the market after two consecutive auctions sell out. That unsold volume cannot exceed 25% of the volume already designated for that auction under Air Resources Board (ARB) rules.

Therefore, if the final two auctions sell out, it will take at least until the end of 2017 to return all unsold volumes to the market. Together with the future vintage allowances that will only return in 2019, the state would bring in $640.5m during that three-year period, according to ICIS analysis.

In total, that would mean the state would generate $41.6m more by the regulation-mandated delay of unsold auction volumes.

If August or November auctions were to fail to sell out, it would extend the timeline that unsold volume would return to the cap-and-trade market, but it could increase the auction revenue generated by the state due to the rising floor price.

For example, if the August auction failed to sell out by 50% (scenario 2 below), it could take until 2019 to have all unsold volume return to the cap-and-trade market. That scenario would bring $101.9m additional auction revenue to state coffers.

The August auction result could have a significant impact on state revenues from 2017-2019. Depending on the outcome, total state revenue during that three-year period could range from $640.5m to $1.27b.

In an extreme scenario (scenario 3), revenues could even increase by $1.58b over the next three years if the next two auctions failed to fully sell out.

About ICIS

ICIS is the world's largest petrochemical market information provider and has fast-growing energy and fertilizer divisions. Our aim is to give companies in global commodities markets a competitive advantage by delivering trusted pricing data, high-value news, analysis and independent consulting, enabling our customers to make better-informed trading and planning decisions. We have more than 30 years' experience in providing pricing information, news, analysis and consulting to buyers, sellers and analysts.

With a global staff of more than 800, ICIS has employees based in Houston, Washington, New York, London, Montpellier, Dusseldorf, Karlsruhe, Milan, Mumbai, Singapore, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Yantai, Tokyo and Perth. Some 350 of ICIS’s staff are journalists engaged in reporting market prices and news, and ICIS is fully committed to upholding the highest journalistic principles of verification, corroboration and authentication. ICIS has a compliance framework that along with its methodologies and business processes adheres to the requirements of the IOSCO PRA Principles.

ICIS is a division of Reed Business Information, part of RELX Group.

About Reed Business Information

Reed Business InformationReed Business Information provides information and online data services to business professionals worldwide. Customers have access to our high-value industry data, analytics, information and tools. Our strong global brands hold market-leading positions across a wide range of industry sectors including banking, petrochemicals and aviation where we help customers make key strategic decisions every day. RBI is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.

About RELX Group

RELX Group is a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries. The group employs about 28,000 people of whom half are in North America. RELX PLC is the London Stock Exchange listed vehicle for holding shares in RELX Group. Shareholders in RELX PLC own a 52.9% economic interest in RELX Group. RELX NV is the Amsterdam Stock Exchange listed vehicle for holding shares in RELX Group. External shareholders in RELX NV own a 47.1% economic interest in RELX Group. The total market capitalisation of the two parent companies is approximately £31.9bn/€36.0bn. Its shares are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RUK and ENL. www.relx.com



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