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Sweden remains Europe’s largest net power exporter

ByJez Davison

Mar 9, 2023
Jean-Paul Harreman 1

Sweden retained its position as the biggest net exporter of power in Europe during the second half of last year, according to a Teesside-based energy analyst.

That was the standout highlight of a new report on the European electricity market by energy data analyst EnAppSys.

The report describes the value of imports and exports in Europe during the last six months of 2022. It found that Sweden’s total net exports amounted to 17TWh, with most of the power flowing to Finland (8TWh) and Denmark (4TWh).

Jean-Paul Harreman, director of EnAppSys BV, said: “Sweden always has a steady flow of exports to Finland and the Baltics due to a constant price difference in favour of Swedish nuclear and hydro generation. The flows to continental Europe via Poland, Denmark and Germany are also relatively constant. With other traditionally large exporters saw much lower exports (Norway, due to a dry summer) or even imports (France, due to low nuclear availability), Sweden’s more diversified fuel mix ensured it retained its position as Europe’s largest exporter.”

Throughout the whole of 2022, Britain was in a net export position on average, with a net export of 4.1TWh of power leaving GB for continental Europe and Ireland. France had the largest net volume of imports from GB.

Clement Bouilloux, EnAppSys’ French territory manager, said: “The persistent low availability of French nuclear power put added pressure on the European wholesale market as France has historically been a primary exporter in Europe. In total, 16.4TWh of power was imported by France in 2022, compared to the 43TWh of export in the previous year.

“In addition, Germany was the third highest net exporter with total net exports of 9TWh. This meant that Germany lost its position to Spain as the second biggest net exporter to Europe, with Spain almost doubling its net export to 11.6TWh as a result of the Iberian exception and its gas price cap. The price cap was implemented from June 15 for a price of 40€/MWh, making Spanish power extremely competitive all over Europe. As a consequence, Spain was able to export additional 5.1 TWh compared to the first half of 2022, filling almost half of the additional French needs of 11.4 TWh.”

Spain fared well in 2022 during the electricity crisis, as the diversification of its gas imports made it less dependent on gas from Russia. Thanks to an Iberian price cap on gas prices for power generation, its gas assets saw a massive increase in utilization from mid-June. Its storage and regasification infrastructure allowed it to receive gas from North Africa and the United States, which allowed it to keep its reserves at optimal levels, with ships waiting for days to empty their cargoes. The high temperatures recorded during the end of the year, unusually high for this period, helped to keep gas prices stable. The trend has continued into the first months of 2023, as France continues to struggle to restart its nuclear plants, temperatures and gas stocks remain at high levels for this time of year and renewable generation, mostly solar, has been increasing in recent weeks. As the price-cap remains in place, Spain will continue to export cheaper power into France.

Gabor Szatmari, EnAppSys territory manager for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), said: “When net exports as a percentage of demand was taken into consideration, Bulgaria saw the highest percentage of its power generation exported (30.7%). With a large share of its power generated by nuclear and lignite, high gas prices moved Bulgarian power to the cheaper side of the merit order, with a lot of export to Greece, which has a very high gas dependency. Bulgaria also exported significant volumes of power to Romania and Serbia, which both struggled with low hydro during the summer months.

“In the first half of 2023, we are likely to see Norway and France gradually moving up the ranking for highest exporters as Norwegian hydro reserves have filled up and French nuclear power is slowly coming back online.”

Italy remained the biggest net importer during the first six months of 2022, sourcing 21TWh from outside the country, of which 9.9TWh came from Switzerland and 7TWh from France.