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Germany becomes Scandinavia’s not-so-green battery

25 Jul 2018 09:17

Foto: RWE

Foto: RWE

25 Jul 2018 09:17

(Montel) Germany is exporting unusually large volumes of power to Scandinavia this summer as hot, dry weather reverses the typical flow of Nordic hydropower to Europe.

Germany sent an average of 1,030 MW of power every hour to Scandinavia last week, compared to imports of 1,360 MW in calendar week 29 last year, according to the BNA network regulator’s public database.

“Normally Sweden is a net exporter to the German market, but in recent weeks it has become a net importer,” said Tim Steinert at Berlin-based consultancy Enervis.*

Norway, Sweden and Finland have at least 15 TWh less potential hydropower stored in their reservoirs than normal, Nord Pool exchange data showed.

This is equivalent to nearly 13% of capacity, though analysts have tipped the deficit even greater when factoring in water contents for soil and snow.

The shortage has prompted a surge in other forms of conventional generation both locally and abroad, including CO2 emissions-intensive coal-fired generation.

Swedish premium
The shift in power flows has been reflected in prices. Sweden’s SE4 power price zone on the border with Germany has been trading at a premium of about EUR 4/MWh to the German Phelix for the past four weeks. Over the same period last year it traded at close to a EUR 3/MWh discount.

“We see net imports now from Germany and with low wind levels it is coal production [benefitting most],” said Odd Gunnar Jakobsen, a senior analyst at Wattsight.

This is because the low Nordic hydropower output is arriving on top of low German wind generation.

Germany generated 780 GWh more electricity year on year across its hard coal, lignite, gas and nuclear plants last week, according to Fraunhofer ISE data.

That amounts to around 4,640 MW of additional power plant capacity running any given hour – nearly all of it brown or hard coal as a slight decline in gas offset a similar increase in nuclear output.

High pressure systems that have helped keep European temperatures above average in recent weeks have also slashed wind output to a fraction of their usual levels.

This week was forecast to average 3.6 GW of wind generation, or about 40% of normal levels, according to data by Energy Quantified, a Montel company.

EQ data also showed residual load – the amount of demand not covered by renewable energy – should average almost 43 GW this week, around 6 GW more than normal.

Meteorologists predict the hot, dry conditions to continue with Sweden’s SMHI predicting temperatures between 3-7C above normal in central Europe for at least the next fortnight.

* Sweden is still a net exporter of electricity overall, due to exports to Poland, Lithuania, Finland and Denmark.

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