Without being a nostalgic of the utilities monopoly era, I’m also not a fanatic of the liberalized one. The past decennia has highlighted the weak point of the last one while the reason of tits born was the aim to reduce the cost of energy that was claimed to be too high.
Indeed, the monopoly market functions on a cost plus model. In other words, each made cost is guaranteed to be recovered with an allowed margin on top. The problem is not the margin, this was surely not around 2 digits, rather around 3 to 5%. The point was the costs, or more precisely the absence of actual incentive to reduce them, combined with the de facto impossibility to really control them.
The positive side of the medal was a very stable, resilient (perhaps over-resilient) and sharply managed system. Shortfall was excluded, outside of war (or alike) circumstances of course, but no one can that into account.
Conversely, the liberalized world is private and profit driven. This is just a fact, not a critic. No one is running a business just for the fun of it, every market player must eat at the end of the day. But the profit has 3 major components: revenue, expenses … and risk. The last one is very seldom mentioned apart and is rather invisibly integrated in the revenue and/or in the expenses.
The point is that a revenue auto spawn (if you have a business of this kind, please contact me urgently), it requires a primal investment. This investment will not be freely given for the beauty of your eyes, but only after a thorough business case analysis. How thorough this analysis is, and thorough it is, it keeps relying on assumptions (market size/share prediction, write-off terms, running cost, …).
However these assumptions are stated on the basis of impressive amounts of sources and cross checks, they remain to be assumptions, thus uncertain. That is the reason why they are qualified with a risk level. The evaluation of the risk is, in turn, very vaguer (loosely coupled to tangible facts). No one has got a really working crystal ball (once again, if you have a one, please contact me urgently).
At the end of the process, the risk assessment plays the role of the actual driver of the choice between investing or not in a business. Hence, the sharpness of its assessment is limited by the impossibility to predict the future, so that at the end of the decision process, the choice will be made in function of the perception of the risk by the person(s) who has to take the decision.
Applied to the energy world, where the market price is totally uncertain, on a term that extends over more than 1 to 3 years, in comparison of the writing-off terms that spend over several decades for manageable power plants, it is very unlikely that someone will still make such an investment in non-subsidized equipment (to be clear: green certificates are also subsidies).
The other liberalized role (the supplier) does not require a huge investment to start, it is merely comparable with the retail world (the so called FMCG market) where the return term is rather of maximum a few years. This kind of business is virtually accessible for any entrant, while the former established suppliers bear the weight of their legacy and face in the same time a reduction of their market share, due to enhanced competition.
The giants of the past are thus slowly but surely shrinking in a spiral comparable to the Titans fall. But who cares ? or rather who should care ? Well, the answer is easy: all of us ! The question is rather how should we care about it ?