Demand and Energy mix evolution:
During April 2023, electricity consumption averaged 53.2GW at the max, down by 6.3 GW m-o-m. The month was characterised by relatively stable electricity demand during the whole of the month, with the customary lows during weekends. The peak was reached on Wednesday, 5th of April, at 65.3GW, 11.1GW down from that of March, which was also reached on a Wednesday. The highest consumption periods run from the 3rd to the 7th. April, like March, had low consumption days unevenly distributed throughout most of the month, and reached the lowest level on the 30th of April, with 43.9GW at the max.
According to RTE data, nuclear generation varied less than in March, staying between 60% and 70% of the power mix during most of the month. These softened variations occurred in large part due to milder wind and solar weather-induced fluctuations, which had been particularly significant in March. While gas remained a key player during peak hours, its share of the energy mix mostly did not exceed 5%, much less than at the beginning of March when it ranged from 10 to 15%. Meanwhile, coal and fuel oil power generation, which had played a marginal but relevant role during the winter months, were virtually inactive throughout the whole of April.
Nuclear power generation averaged 35.8 GW at the max, a slight decrease of 0.4 GW m-o-m. The highest value was reached on Thursday, the 27th of April. Unlike March, when the nuclear power max level coincided with the national peak energy demand, in April this was not the case, and, more generally, nuclear generation seemed uncorrelated with demand. For example, while the French energy consumption registered 65.3GW at the max on the 5th of April and 51.7GW at the max on the 27th, a delta of well over 10GW, nuclear power generation varied only by O.2GW at the max (38 vs 38.2GW). One major reason is that, when French domestic demand was relatively lower, as on the 27th, France exported significant amounts of power, even exceeding 10GW. Nuclear availability fluctuated sensibly throughout the month, with 39 reactors available at the beginning of the month versus 35 on the 23rd and 36 on the 30th. The resulting officially reported availability fell from 41.8 GW to 38.1GW and then increased to 38.9GW.
Gas power generation averaged 3.6GW at the max, well below the 5.7GW of March and 8.3 of February. Nonetheless, during days of relatively high-demand, gas-fired units occasionally reached 7% of the national energy mix generation. The absolute max for gas power generation was reached on the 26th of April, at 4.6GW. Coal consumption was almost completely absent, reaching a mere 0.1GW at the max on 4 days.
Renewables played a slightly decreased role when compared to the month of March. This is due to the exceptionally high wind generation which had characterised March, and which did not affect April. The average decreased significantly, from 9.2GW at the max to 7.1GW, although still slightly above the level registered in January. However, wind power generation was relatively consistent, above 10% of the national power mix for most of the month, apart for a few days at the end, and occasionally exceeding 20%. During the exceptional max of 15.3 GW, reached on Saturday the 1st of April, wind power reached 26% of the energy mix composition. Part of the decreased generation from wind was compensated by solar power output, which averaged 8.9 GW at the max, versus 7.5GW in March, and reached the highest level ever recorded, at 11,9GW, on Wednesday, 5th April.
Hydro power generation, which had already decreased in February and March, also decreased in April, from an average 9.9 GW at the max to about 9.4 GW. Meanwhile, hydro stocks increased from 1,480GWh to 1,590GWh by end of month, a level above the historic averages of the past 5 years, 2020 aside.
Prompt and month-ahead contracts:
TTF spot contract closed at 38.21€/MWh on April 30th, a significant m-o-m decrease of more than 10%, and over 30% decrease when compared to January. The peak value was reached on Tuesday the 4th of April, at 52.16€/MWh, and rapidly fell thereafter, reaching 43.32€/MWh on Friday, April 7th. In line with the decrease in gas prices observed in March, the decrease in April shares similar contributing factors: the level of gas reserves, which have been kept slightly higher than their historical average, reaching 36% by the end of the month, almost 10% above the 2011-2021 decennial average. The relatively slow re-launching of the Chinese economy also played a role, although official Chinese figures show a growth level higher than expected.
Meanwhile, the moderate decreasing trend of oil prices throughout March was pursued, with Brent June’23 delivery contract closing at 78.37$/bbl on the ICE, versus last month’s closing value of 79.89$/bbl.
French power prices fluctuated significantly in April, although less than in March, especially due to the lack of the very pronounced highs in wind power observed in March. French spot baseload power prices fluctuated in April between 142.58 and 54.31€/MWh while, in March, they had ranged between 166.06 and 26.14€/MWh. Average baseload power prices decreased by 36.86 €/MWh m-o-m, to 111.90€/MWh.
June 2023 power futures showed a m-o-m decrease of 24%, closing at 99.48€/MWh by end of the month, exceeding the fall in gas prices. Part of the reason may be an increased confidence in nuclear availability following the Penly unexpected fissure discovery.
Medium and long-term contracts:
After having risen in March, TTF Cal24 contracts were relatively stable in April, with a m-o-m decrease of 1.3%, closing at 56.51€/MWh. The 50TWh/year floating storage regasification unit at le Havre, in northern France, scheduled for September this year, together with planned refilling of storages, which are currently almost 10% above the past decade’s historical level, have contributed to mitigate gas price increases for 2024 contracts, which are lower than their levels at the beginning of this year.
Inversely to gas futures, API Cal24 prices, which had already fallen in March, fell from 143.04 to 136.67$/t on the ICE, even lower than at the end of January. Factors may be multiple, including the EU policy against coal mentioned in our last edition. However, a major contributor to this fall may be the steady resumption of coal exports from Australia to China.
CO2 prices decreased in April, pursuing the decreasing trend which had settled in during March, with the EUA Dec23 contract showing a m-o-m decrease from 91.93 to 87.34€/t and even hitting an 85.64€/t low on Wednesday the 26th. As stated last month, a contributing factor may be an overall loosening of certain measures contemplated under the EC’s electricity market reform, for example, including nuclear as a source of low-carbon energy and, most importantly, likely postponing stringent measures to the next EU legislature.
After increasing by 31% m-o-m in March, French Cal24 power contract partially returned to previous levels, falling to 196.90€/MWh on April 28th. This is due to the decreased concerns surrounding stress corrosion cracks at Penly’s reactor (and other similar units). Another factor lifting the market´s confidence may also have been the approval, by the French nuclear safety authority ASN (“l’Autorité de Sûreté Nucléare”) of the plan of EdF to repair and reduce the cracks recently found.
FR Baseload Power price (€/MWh)
FR Peak load Power price (€/MWh)
EUA price (€/t)
PEGN Gas price (€/MWh)
Coal Price ($/Tn)
Gas efficiency:52%; Coal efficiency: 38%
Gas vs. Coal Price (€/MWh)
Gas efficiency: 52%; Coal efficiency: 38%