In Danger of Winter Power Shortages are France and Britain

If there is a cold snap in early December or January, most at risk of power shortages this winter are France and the U.K. among the European nations.

According to European grid group Entsoe’s Winter Outlook report, France will need to rely on imports during several weeks and adding a cold spell to that could make the situation “tense” as the availability of Electricite de France SA’s French nuclear fleet is at the lowest level in a decade. The report also said that if temperatures fall below average, Britain may face a power deficit in early January.

But thanks to surpluses in most regions and available interconnector capacity, demand can be met and reserves maintained across almost all of Europe even under severe conditions, the Entsoe analysis indicated. In the week from Jan. 9, the U.K. potentially needs high imports from all neighboring countries. But there might be a deficit by a combination of low wind and cold temperatures.

“Significantly” decreased margins in the first three weeks of December would be he result of delays to restarts of several French reactors undergoing safety checks at the request of regulator ASN. According to Entsoe, a drop of 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) below normal can add 2,400 megawatts and French electricity demand is highly sensitive to cold weather.

Warnings of an increasing risk of power shortages in Europe’s second-biggest market was sounded earlier this month by Reseau de Transport d’Electricite, the French grid operator. Including the last resort option of the possibility of rolling blackouts, it has several options to reduce demand if needed. National Grid Plc has described this winter as “tight but manageable” and the U.K. has a reserve of power stations it can activate.

MDA Information LLC said in a report that while the average will be 2.9 degrees Celsius below normal through Dec. 8 in Paris, minimum temperatures in Paris are forecast below zero through Dec. 1. Colder than usual temperatures for Britain through Dec. 27 is seen by the U.K.’s Met Office.

Noting the highest since Nov. 14, the day-ahead prices in France were pushed up as much as 31 percent to 105 euros a megawatt-hour on Tuesday due to the chilly temperatures. In the past year, month-ahead power has more than doubled.

There however can be the opposite problem for Germany, Europe’s biggest power market. Entsoe said that the oversupply could be “critical” and lead to negative prices if windy weather coincides with demand very low demand around Christmas.

Enstsoe said that the so-called negative control reserve, or the use of measures such as asking power plants including wind farms to reduce output to balance the system, could be produced in higher amounts by Germany to mitigate the situation.

According to Entsoe, as 12.8 gigawatts of solar and wind, 6.6 gigawatts of hydro and gas plants came online, total generating capacity in Europe has increased by about 11 gigawatts in the past year. A total of 8.2 gigawatts of oil and coal capacity shut permanently.

(Adapted from Bloomberg)

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Categories: Economy & Finance, Geopolitics, Sustainability

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