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Iberian hydro output rebounds as drought ends – experts


25 May 2023 13:48




25 May 2023 12:06

(Montel) Hydropower production in Spain and Portugal has rebounded after an extreme drought last year and would continue to improve thanks to wet forecasts, experts told Montel this week.

Water reserves across the region were currently healthy, said Eylert Ellefsen, analyst at Montel’s Energy Quantified (EQ).

“I don’t see any reason for restrictions like last year,” he added, with the drought in 2022 leading to losses for utilities as they were forced to buy substitute power on the wholesale market.

Rising reservoir levels
Hydropower levels in Spain were last seen at 58.1%, up from 40.9% last year, but below a five-year average of 64.5% and 10-year average of 71.2%.

Despite hydropower production being subdued recently, it was likely to increase in the near term, with heavy rain expected over the next week, Ellefsen added.

Output had averaged 1.3 GW/day in the month to date and was set to rise to 2 GW/day by the end of May, while exceeding 2.6 GW/day in early June, according to EQ data.

“Even though it has rained, what the ground has done is catch moisture, that's why we are not seeing hydro production grow [substantially],” Jordi Martinez, managing partner at Advanced Energy Consulting, told Montel.

However, he added further precipitation would be “useful” as the ground was saturated.

May and June were likely to see more rain than normal and the El Nino weather pattern looked like it was on the way bringing more precipitation, he said, agreeing there would be no limits on hydropower generation.

“We would have to get to a very critical situation [for that to happen] and we are far from it today”.

Improving Portugal

Meanwhile, the situation in Portugal had also improved substantially, said Ellefsen.

The Portuguese government limited production at some of the country's dams last year due to low water levels and dry weather.

Available storage capacity was now above the 10-year average at almost 80%, Portuguese utility EDP said.

“Despite the low rainfall in April and May, this gives some optimism as we approach the upcoming months, especially summer,” a spokeswoman told Montel.

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