In the second in our Current± Price Watch series – powered by LCP Enact – we take a look at how European market dynamics have compared with Britain over the last week in light of negative prices and nuclear outages.
Additionally, National Grid ESO reflects on how the electricity system in Britain has changed over the past 70 years to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Day Ahead: Prices stay steady in Britain as they dip in some European markets
EPEX day ahead prices hit a high of £232.8/MWh on 30 May, exceeding the previous week’s high by nearly £40. Nordpool prices broadly mirrored this, with a high of £224.76/MWh on 30 May, before falling away towards the end of the week.
While Britain’s power prices have been more stable than the first few months of the year, other markets in Europe have seen some interesting drops.
The Netherlands for example reached a price of €0/MWh last week, while Belgium went into negative power prices. On 4 June, Belgium imbalance prices also saw extreme swings, from over 850EUR/MWh to -180EUR/MWh.
These extremes were due to “unexpected and extreme weather events, a relatively tight system and poor renewable forecasts” explained Shivam Malhotra, lead developer at LCP Enact.
In response, interconnectors flipped direction, with Britain importing from both the Netherlands and Belgium to take advantage of the lower prices.
Intraday: French nuclear outages continue
Intraday prices remained similarly subdued, with a high of £219.26/MWh on 30 May before dropping to a low of £61.67/MWh on 4 June.
In last week’s Current± Price Watch article, we highlighted the boost to energy trading brought about by the 1,000MW Eleclink electricity interconnector going live.
This provided additional connection to France, which has continued to experience high power prices over the last week as outages at nuclear plants – which account for around 70% of the nation’s energy mix – continue, leading Britain to become a net exporter for a period.
“French Nuclear capacity is already at its lowest seasonal point in a decade!” said Malhotra.
“Given the vast majority of GB interconnection is with France, us being a net exporter is largely down to their market conditions. With their nuclear outages expected to last for the rest of the year, you could expect to see the trend continue in the short-term.”
As of an 19 May, 12 of Electricité de France’s (EDF) nuclear generators were shut down to allow them to be tested for stress corrosion. As such, the energy giant has adjusted its French nuclear output estimate from 295-315TWh to 280-300TWh for 2022.
Imbalance: Continued focus on system security as ESO points to low carbon generation growth
As many in Britain enjoyed the long bank holiday weekend in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, National Grid ESO highlighted the change in the makeup of the country’s electricity mix during her 70 year reign.
The operator said that electricity consumption is six times higher now than seven decades ago, although with the efficiency of devices improving it has reduced since 2002.
Renewable generation in Britain hit a record high of 43.1% in 2020, and whilst this dropped somewhat in 2021 due to less favourable weather and increased demand following easing of COVID-19 lockdowns, it still sat at 39.3%.
As such, between 1982 and 2020, the proportion of low carbon generation on the system has increased from around 20% to roughly 50%. This means Britain is currently on track for periods of zero carbon electricity system operation by 2035.
The ESO is continuing to work to increase flexibility in the market to ensure further low carbon generation can come online. As part of this, its first voltage management project went live on 1 June, with the Mersey Reactive Power solution installed in Frodsham, Cheshire.