European Power Prices Increased By Almost 20% In July From Heatwave

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The intense heatwave that gripped most of Europe in July had quite an effect on humanity — not just on human comfort and on agriculture, but also on the price of electricity. Continental Europe saw the price of day-ahead electricity rise significantly during the heatwave — coinciding with, and partially the result of, reduced levels of supply caused by the heatwave, according to new data released by Platts.

A worrying sign… especially when you consider that such heatwaves are expected to greatly increase in frequency and intensity in the coming years as the result of climate change.

“Europe recorded temperatures 10 degrees Celsius higher than seasonal norms in several areas, which greatly increased power demand for air conditioning,” stated Anna Crowley, Platts European power editor. “Simultaneously, there was a dip in hydro and wind production from early summer highs and a number of coal and nuclear outages that served to reduce capacity margins.”

heat wave global warming electricity stations
Image Credit: Heatwave via Flickr CC

Platts (a leading provider of energy, petrochemicals, metals and agriculture information) has more:

The Platts Continental Power (CONTI) Index increased 19.8% in July compared to June, up from €33.50 per megawatt hour (/MWh) to €40.13/MWh. The June average had been unusually low due to Germany’s record solar output flooding a system already awash with hydro and wind power.

Despite the month-over-month surge in the CONTI Index to more than €40/MWh in July, it was down nearly 12% when compared to a year ago. West European electricity demand remains well down on the pre-credit crunch levels of 2008, with use continuing to decline in the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy. Power prices in the UK for day-ahead needs averaged £48.74/MWh in July, up 1.8% from June and up 13.8% from July a year ago. The day-ahead price of natural gas in the UK also rose last month as the market realigned with Continental Europe.

At Continental Europe’s most liquid natural gas trading hub, the Dutch TTF, the average price of day-ahead gas in July was €26.05/MWh, down from €26.25/MWh in June. On a year-over-year basis, the July price well-exceeded that of a year ago, with the market reflecting higher oil prices and the indexing of gas to oil in long-term pricing contracts rather than the retreat in gas use for power generation.

“The average price of UK natural gas in July was up 8% from June, when the price was abnormally low due to an outage on the UK Interconnector to Belgium preventing exports,” stated Crowley. “The month-over-month July rise reflects a return to service of the gas link, and a return to near-parity of the basis spread for day-ahead gas on Belgium’s Zeebrugge trading hub and the UK’s National Balancing Point hub.”

With heatwaves such as the July one expected to become considerably frequent — and much more intense — the outlook for continental Europe’s energy security doesn’t look that great. In particular, nuclear power and centralized coal, both of which are much more susceptible to such issues than small-scale solar or wind energy are, are due for some trouble. The future of the continent, with regard to energy security and climate change, will certainly be interesting.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

27 thoughts on “European Power Prices Increased By Almost 20% In July From Heatwave

  • Germany chose to close their nuclear reactors for nothing other than to feel good. Sometimes there is a price to pay for making silly decisions.

    • Chernobyl


      Three Mile Island

      • Based on that logic, they should close down their airlines too.

        Chernobyl = Aeroflot

        Fukushima = 8.9 Richter scale earthquake and massive Tsunami; not a huge risk in Bavaria.

        TMI = an incident that happened over 40 yrs ago where there were no fatalities.

        That said, Germans can do want they want. Just don’t complain when power prices go up because of that.

        • You’re so cute when you get all silly….

        • Nuclear power is one of the most amazing technologies in the world. Each reactor is perfectly safe until it isn’t and and when one has an accident it has no effect on the safety of others which of course always and forever remain perfectly safe right up until those rares incidents when they suddenly become unsafe. It is the tragic failure of insurance underwriters to understand this magic that is killing the nuclear industry.

        • Chernobyl = Long term destruction of arable land. Not good in a world with expanding human population to feed. Also, long term increased cancer rates documented. Also, nuke accident where minimal earthquake risk and no tidal wave risk, which refutes your point about Fukushima vs Bavaria completely.
          Fukushima = The same thing again, plus leakage of radioactive material into the sea where it is affecting the food chain there. Gee, let’s do this some more.
          TMI = Just lucky. Friggin stupid design to have circulation pumps on top where they can get vapor lock. Brought to you by save-a-few-pennies and never-trust-private-enterprise-with-nukes-again enterprises. Humanity did not learn. Now we have Fukushima. Built in a known tidal wave area?! Enough of that nonsense!
          Steeple = Nuke troll.
          I live in Washington State. We have the Hanford Reactor built on (near?) an earthquake fault on the Columbia river, UP STREAM OF A MAJOR BREAD BASKET FOR THE USA. How stupid is that? I’ve been waiting my whole life for that to go south. Hopefully it won’t happen, then again it could be tomorrow… Most people are such short term thinkers. Friggin grasshoppers, not ants, in those fables. That’s you Steeple, a grasshopper. Why do this to yourself when there is a better way? Solar, wind, and energy storage are now the cheaper, better solution …and they are still getting cheaper, so this will increasingly be the case. The case for nuclear power no longer has any merit.
          Bottom line: Nuclear fission is not safe and is way too expensive. I will not pay your clean up bill for this folly. My children will not. Solar, wind, and energy storage technology is now here to do this more cheaply. Grow a brain.

          • MDS, always a pleasure to hear from you.

            My only point was that is was folly for the Germans to close 40+ perfectly good nuclear reactors on such short notice. They would have been much better served to phase them out over the time period necessary to bring replacement generation on line.

            Chernobyl is a classic example of shoddy Russian engineering and operations practices. Nothing in Bavaria resembles anything from 1980s USSR. That’s why the German reactors have such an impeccable safety record.

          • Germany is phasing out their reactors.

            Germany made the final decision to close their reactors following Fukushima, not following Chernobyl.

            Germany is keeping its lights on.

          • I agree with both your points specifically, but they add nothing to the general discussion here. Bob Wallace is correct when he says that nuclear is “a dead man walking”. Ronald Brakels has summed it up very nicely, very concisely, and humerously to boot, as only he can. You don’t get it.

          • Seems like the same response I got from you when you boldly proclaimed that exporting crude oil from the US is legal. Haven’t seen much on your fastball yet, chief.

          • whatever
            I admit to mistakes when I make them, not this time. Maybe the problem is you just can’t learn anything new.
            You wrote statements that seemed to defend Chernobyl, Fukushima, etc. I objected and still do. You responded with some obliquely related facts that are correct and I agreed. You have not defended your pro-nuke position. You bring nothing new to the table. Somebody who can’t hit a slow-pitch does not inspire a fastball.
            To nuke, or not to nuke, is not really a major issue for me. Economics is already deciding this one. There is not really much a argument to have here. The nuke industry has killed itself.
            The bigger issue is to transition to solar and wind, or continue on with the drill-baby-drill approach. Economics is already changing this one too, but the USA can still be held back from being a major in solar and wind by big money fossil fuel interests and by the members of the voting public who still believe their fonts, such as Faux News.
            “All of the above” with emphasis on transition to solar, wind, and storage is great, without more nukes of course. The same old century old approach to grid power will not cut it going forward. That is the real USA power debate right now …and the former will continue to win.
            Your position on nukes is just out there in left field and you are never getting up to bat again… maybe for deep space …certainly we need to keep a few nukes for medical radiology purposes …that’s it …you’re done.
            There is no fastball because the nuclear industry has commited seppuku, so sorry.

    • The German baseload power price for Thursday delivery gained 3.50 euros from the previous day-ahead level to 53.50 euros ($71.0) a megawatt hour (MWh), while the French day-ahead delivery contract was up 4.75 euros at the same level.

      Must be due to all that damned solar the French have on their grid.

    • Do you know how much the insurance of a nuclear reactor would be if the TAXPAYER wasn’t forced to share the risk of nuclear accident?

      • No, please tell us how much it would be.

        • 🙂 At least 300 million euro per year per reactor 🙂

          Dont forget that the insurance company must be able to manage worst case scenario like Fukushima in a such way that NO taxpayer money are required:

          The cost of a worst-case nuclear accident at a plant in Germany, for example, has been estimated to total as much as euro7.6 trillion ($11 trillion), while the mandatory reactor insurance is only euro2.5 billion.

          Question: Does such insurance company exists?

          • Sounds scary. And made up.

            $11T worst case? Greater than a Year’s GDP of the total German economy? Really?

            So you are proposing that anyone who operates hazardous equipment (nuke operators, oil tankers, chemical companies, etc) carry Trillions of $ of liability insurance?

          • We could argue over the amount, but the responsibility question is more interesting to me.

            Who should assume the liability, the company that owns a reactor or the people who live in the country where that company does business?

            What’s standard practice outside the nuclear industry?

          • Most large oil companies self insure or insure through industry cooperatives; I suspect the same of most chem companies.

            That said, the market cap of most of these companies is in the hundreds of billions $ tops. The BP spill put them at risk of bankruptcy, and that was a $40 B event?

            I would doubt there is any company described above that carries liability coverage over $50B, and the max is probably lower than that.

          • So you’re agreeing that taxpayers are on a great big liability hook for nuclear?

            That the cost of nuclear energy is greatly higher than what the nuclear industry claims?

          • I would say they/we are.

            And they are for the failure of a major dam. Or a financial institution. Or for an earthquake or hurricane or flood. Or a war. Is the cost of owning real estate on a coast subsidized by the taxpayers? Probably.

            I would rather write the first dollar coverage on a US nuke accident before any of those other risks, save perhaps the failure of a dam.

          • We’ll we are going to have to cut back on beach front insurance as seas rise. And dams generally have safety zones below them where private property damage would be minimal.

            We’ve put larger regulations into place for financial industries. We’ve sort of reminded ourselves why those libertarian ideas are faulty.

            But I’m glad to know that you realize that you, as a taxpayer, are giving free liability coverage to nuclear plant owners. Allowing them to claim that nuclear-electricity is cheaper than it actually is.

          • Also nuclear plant owners knowing that there are endless amount of taxpayer’s money are not incentivised to keep their equipment at safest level possible because hey there are lots and lots of taxpayers money to pay if something happens.

          • Not the same class of problem as a nuke failure. Go live and grow your food on the farm land near the Fukushima or Chernobyl site. No? Gunna let somebody else do that while you claim it’s not really a big deal?

          • There are plenty of environmental disasters in Russia that have nothing to do with nukes; ie Lake Bakal. It was a problem endemic to Russia and just happened to be a nuke.

            Japan shouldn’t have put a nuke on the coast on top of a fault line.

            Building a new nuke is to likely in N.America if for no other reason the straight up economics don’t work.

            I was not advocating that. Only stating that it was silly to close nukes that are long paid for with a track record of great safety performance with no apparent external threat ala an earthquake risk.

          • …and the land around Chernobyl happens to be uninhabitable due to radiation contamination. Otherwise good arable land wasted! Any other type of power plant and that would not be the situation.
            The Fukushima disaster was not caused by the plant being built on a fault line. It was built below historical markers from century past tidal wave markers. It survived the quake, not the tsunami.
            Correct, the economics don’t work.
            Sure… your real position, including comments elsewhere, is to defend nuclear power. I agree that a more reasonable transition would be better, but this is often used by people to forestall change. They don’t really need those nukes. Clearly people are scared of unforeseen consequences wrt nukes after Fukushima. That was it for many, including me. The end of nuclear fission power. There are other ways to generate electricity. They can be and often are more economical.

          • We built Humboldt Bay on an earthquake fault.

            And in a tsunami zone.

            If you live next to a reactor it seems less silly to close it down. Especially if you inform yourself about all the “oops” events we have and keep having in nuclear plants.

            We had a South Carolina plant fail a terrorist drill a week or so ago. The “bad guys” got in. And then a couple days ago this came out…

            Every commercial nuclear reactor in the United States is
            insufficiently protected against “credible” terrorist threats, according
            to a new report (PDF) from the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

            Thereport found that facilities were vulnerable to the theft of bomb-grade nuclear materials and sabotage attacks designed to cause a meltdown.

            While all 107 commercial nuclear power reactors were thought to be vulnerable, the report spotlighted 11 that were most at risk. That included eight reactors that were deemed unprotected from attacks from the sea: Diablo Canyon in California, St. Lucie in Florida, Brunswick in North Carolina, Surry in Virginia, Indian Point in New York, Millstone
            in Connecticut, Pilgrim in Massachusetts, and the South Texas Project.

            Three civilian reactors fueled with bomb-grade uranium were also deemed particularly vulnerable. They are housed at the University of Missouri in Columbia, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology – which is within 25
            miles of the White House. Unlike military facilities that hold
            bomb-grade uranium, the report found, these facilities are not
            sufficiently defended against a credible terrorist threat.

            As a release announcing the report notes, the Sept. 11 hijackers considered flying a passenger jet into a New York City-area nuclear reactor.

            “More than 10 years have come and gone since the events of September 2001, and America’s civilian nuclear facilities remain unprotected against a terrorist attack of that scale,” said report co-author Alan J. Kuperman. “Instead, our civilian reactors prepare only against a much smaller-scale attack.””


            Except the SC reactor failed to protect against a smaller-scale attack.

            And guards at Peach Bottom reactor were found sleeping not that long ago.

  • If only there were some energy source which could completely meet air conditioning demand exactly the time periods it was needed most! HmmmMMM! Must think about that one.

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