Blog May 17, 2019

Looking back at April Day-Ahead (DA) power prices in Germany, the recovery of spot contracts edged to an average of EUR36.9/MWhr, which is 23 percent higher than March’s average of EUR30.6/MWhr. March was extremely bearish with a system flooded by renewable generation from solar and wind.

The recovery could have been stronger if the Easter weekend did not experience negative prices across the market. Negative prices were seen beyond German borders, driven by the combination of soaring wind and solar power generation with weak demand.

Hourly day-ahead price on 22 April 2019, EPEX spot
Figure 1: Hourly day-ahead price on 22 April 2019, EPEX spot. Click to enlarge

In result French, Belgian, Swiss, Danish, and Czech prices also settled below zero for some hours on 22 April, according to EEX data. Figure 1 shows the hourly DA prices on Easter Monday, 22 April, from EPEX Spot.

In Germany, on average wind output in April was barely up year-on-year while solar output continued to sharply rise, setting new peak records with nine days registering solar peaks above 30 GW according to EEX and Transmission System Operators (TSOs). The wind generation drop and the start of the nuclear maintenance season also saw gas- and coal-fired generation rebound to fill the gap with a clear switch from coal to gas.

Genscape and RTE data showed French nuclear generation averaged 44 GW through April, up 3.3 percent on the year, while gas-fired generation more than doubled on the year to average 2.8 GW. This helped to balance out a sharp decline in hydro generation for the month, down by 32 percent to 6.4 GW.

Day-ahead baseload price in Germany
Figure 2: Day-Ahead baseload price in Germany. Click to enlarge

More recently the opposite scenario happened with the German DA set to strengthen in the wake of low wind and nuclear maintenance. As shown in Figure 2, the EPEX Spot auction outcome on Thursday, 16 May for Friday, 17 May delivery (Baseload) was at EUR 42.95/MWhr, up EUR 3.22/MWhr or 7.5 percent from Thursday’s auction result.

E.On had to postpone the restart of its 1.4 GW Grohnde reactor to 26 May, from Friday, 17 May due to an instrument failure. RWE’s 1.3 GW Gundremmingen C unit is scheduled to restart on Monday, 27 May.

For the coming weekend, RWE will shut down its 1.3 GW Emsland A reactor at night on Friday, 17 May for annual maintenance. Genscape data shows that once offline, only four of Germany’s seven nuclear plants will be in operation, cutting available capacity to 58 percent or 5.5 GW. The nuclear maintenance requirements will continue to support prices on the DA and intraday markets in Germany as long as renewables stay low. 

PowerRT platform showing nuclear plants throughout Europe
Figure 3: PowerRT platform showing nuclear plants throughout Europe. Click to enlarge

Figure 3 from Genscape’s PowerRT platform shows nuclear plants throughout Europe, identifying both nuclear plants in Germany currently offline (red).

The German power market leads the way for renewable generation in Europe. Recently, negative prices increased in frequency and duration, constraining utilities to produce from thermal plants and forcing TSOs to improve their renewable forecasts.

The market is undergoing a shift that will impact every player in the market as well as spot prices. By using Genscape’s PowerRT platform visualisations and analytics, market participants can stay on top of their game by tracking the generation of each thermal unit and some renewable generation in Europe. To learn more, or to request a demo of PowerRT please click here.