While productivity growth in electricity generation is associated with multiple positive effects from an economic and environmental perspective, measuring it is challenging. This paper proposes a framework to estimate and decompose productivity growth for a sector characterized by multiple technologies. Using a metafrontier Malmquist decomposition and frontier estimation based on stochastic non-smooth envelopment of data (StoNED) allows for productivity estimation with few microeconomic assumptions. Additionally, evaluation of productivity at representative hypothetical units permits distribution-free analysis for the whole distribution of power plant sizes. The proposed framework is used to analyze a unique and rich dataset of coal, lignite, gas, and biomass-fired generators operating in Germany from 2003 to 2010. The results indicate stagnating productivity for the sector as a whole, technical progress for biomass plants, and very high productivity for gas-fired plants.
Productivity estimation Metafrontier Malmquist Decomposition Stochastic Non-Smooth Envelopment of Data (StoNED) Electricity and Heat Generation in Germany 2003-2010