France overtook Norway to regain its position as the biggest net exporter of power in Europe in the first half of 2021.
That was the standout highlight of a new report on the European electricity market by energy data analyst EnAppSys.
The report looked at the value of imports and exports in Europe during the first six months of 2021. It found that France’s total net exports amounted to 21TWh, with most of the power flowing to Great Britain (8.6TWh) and Italy (7.2TWh).
Jean-Paul Harreman, director of EnAppSys BV, said: “France’s nuclear generation levels were similar to levels in previous years (apart from 2020) but energy exports were far higher. This is because demand has not recovered to pre-COVID levels so with similar levels of nuclear generation, France is exporting more.
“The greater volume of exports is also driven by the ongoing trend of increasing carbon (EU ETS) prices. In the first six months of 2021, the carbon price increased from €32.73/tce on the first day of 2021 to €56.54/tce on the last day of June. With higher carbon prices, neighbouring countries are likely to import more energy from France due to its low-carbon energy generation. In the following months, it’s likely that nuclear generation levels in France will remain at the level they are at now due to the higher carbon prices, so power export volumes will remain high.”
Sweden became the second largest net exporter with 11.4TWh, with Norway in third place with 6.6TWh.
Electricity in Sweden is primarily produced with hydro energy and is supported by three nuclear plants and increasing wind generation, which hit a new all-time peak in March 2021. This fuel mix based on renewables and nuclear generation allowed Sweden to increase its energy exports to neighbouring countries.
When net exports as a percentage of demand was taken into consideration, France only exported 8.7% of its energy demand. In comparison, Bosnia ranked first with a net export of 63.8% followed by Sweden (15.7%) and Bulgaria (14.7%).
Italy remained the biggest net importer with 19.8TWh, sourcing 9TWh from Switzerland and 7.3TWh from France.
Britain remained Europe’s second biggest net importer, recording net imports of 12.3TWh in the first half of 2021.
Phil Hewitt, director of EnAppSys, said: “It’s likely that Britain’s energy imports will increase further due to the North Sea Link that connects Britain and Norway, which is scheduled to go live on October 1. After the commercial go-live date, it’s expected that Norway will export its low-priced hydro energy into Britain almost all of the time. Only on rare occasions will the interconnector flows reverse; they will be traded via an implicit auction on a day-ahead market. For instance, at the end of March 2021 the day-ahead prices in GB were lower than in Norway – this indicates that energy would have been exported from GB to Norway.
“In the long run, Britain will stop being a net importer of electricity as more and more offshore wind is built around its shores. In its recently published future energy scenarios document, National Grid forecasts that this reversal will occur quite soon by the middle of the 2020s.”