Spot and short-term contracts:
This last month has been quite hectic in terms of Spain regulatory matters. Following the meeting held by all EU members in Brussels on 24-25 March, Spain published a package of measures/amendments on electricity charges and tolls plus aid for renewables in its Official Journal, and the European Commission granted the « Iberian singularity » status to the Spanish and Portuguese electricity markets.
Daily electricity demand averaged 653 GWh in April, down by 5% m-o-m, thanks to the impact of the Easter holidays period and milder temperatures that gradually settled in, especially during week 15. These fundamentals have also been the main drivers for the behaviour of electricity prices this past month. For instance, the highest price of the month was recorded on 4th April, coinciding with the rather cold temperatures in Spain.
In Europe, gas prices remained at almost the same level as at the end of the previous month, just slightly little lower. This, combined with the continuation of warmer temperatures, kept overall electricity prices in Europe quite stable during the first half of the month, while slightly decreasing them towards the end. Thus, gas prices in European countries have fallen by 20% compared to the previous month (March).
On the generation side, wind, CCGTs and cogeneration production were down by 2 percentage points each when compared to the previous month, an amount which has been transferred in April to solar output.
Wind power production decreased from 6.5 TWh to 5.5 TWh, down by a total 1000 GWh in April. Solar energy, photovoltaic and thermal output increased to a total of 3 TWh, with 9 days registering values above the 120 GWh mark. On 17th April, Easter Sunday, solar PV generation reached a peak of almost 13.5 GWh which, together with the collapse in electricity demand on that day, brought about the first PV curtailment ever seen in Spain. In fact, solar power output covered 62.5% of the national electricity demand, bringing wholesale prices down from 168.5 EUR/MWh to just 3.7 EUR/MWh. Renewable energy generation has been subject to these adjustment mechanisms since 2015 but had mostly affected wind power production.
Finally, CCGTs generated on average 106.9 GWh per day in April, down by almost 20 GWh m-o-m. The rest of the technologies have remained stable in terms of their production. Furthermore, the energy mix of renewables versus non-renewables in April rose by 9% when compared to the previous month, reaching 50%-50%, mainly due to the reduction in electricity demand absorbed entirely by the non-production of non-renewable sources.
After the strong explosion of gas prices experienced in Europe at the beginning of March when the Russia-Ukraine war broke out (with a maximum value of 214.36 EUR/MWh registered at COB of 7 March), the price of Spanish gas (MIBGas) seems to have stabilised, closing the month at 75.55 EUR/MWh. In mid-April, a significant drop in prices – of around 30 euros/MWh – was observed, reaching a low of 55.13 EUR/MWh on 17th April. This decrease in prices was due to a combination of several reasons: a) rising temperatures, b) more solar power output, hence reducing the need for gas for electricity generation and, c) the redirection of several LNG cargoes to Europe as confinement decreed in several cities in China to curb Covid-19 contagions reduced gas consumption in the Asian country.
Regarding EUAs contracts, prices remained below the 80 EUR/Tn mark for most of April, rising slightly – by 6% – in the second half of the month. Very similar to the rise of coal prices during the same time interval, where it exceeded the 300 USD/Tn mark. After the strong peak reached on the outbreak of the war at the beginning of March, API2 Cal23 contract stabilised until the beginning of April at a price of around 180 USD/Tn. It rose slightly again on 5 April when Europe announced its plan to cut off the supply of Russian coal after its latest military attacks on Ukraine. From then on, coal prices kept rising, averaging 228 USD/Tn.
To finish with the news, the main piece affecting Spain came at the beginning of April, when Brussels agreed to cap the price of gas. Although negotiations are still ongoing to reach the final action plan, it was already announced that the gas price limit will start at 40 EUR/MWh and evolve towards 50 EUR/MWh by the end of the 12-month market intervention period. Although this is higher than the price of 30 EUR/MWh initially proposed by Spain and Portugal, it is still expected to benefit 40% of the domestic consumers – those subject to regulated tariffs – and up to 80% of industrial electricity consumers with reductions in their electricity bills. Brussels has also indicated that electricity exports to the neighbouring country (France) will be made at the same reference price as in mainland Spain so as not to interfere in the internal market. In return, the EC has committed to improve interconnections between Spain and Portugal.
Medium- and long-term contracts:
If in 2021 energy prices were extraordinarily high, they are set to follow suit in 2022. To a large extent, prices are already fixed across Europe through long-term contracts and price regulations.
The electrification of households and vehicles will lead to increased demand for electricity. At the same time, the growing concern to reduce the carbon footprint of energy use will increase the cost of pollution in the European CO2 market. In addition, gas and coal prices are at cyclical peaks, which will lead to higher energy prices.
The Spanish electricity price for 2023 (OMIP Cal23) hovered around 137 EUR/MWh at the beginning of April, reaching a peak of 150 EUR/MWh during the third weekend of the month. However, this trend changed, returning to the values of the beginning of the month after the preliminary agreement was announced by Brussels. Furthermore, April closed with a price of 135.5 EUR/MWh, which leads us to believe that it will continue its downward trend for some more time.
The prospect of higher Norwegian gas production this summer will put some downward pressure on gas prices. However, Russia’s decision to cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria for not agreeing to pay them in roubles has put pressure on prices on the long-term curve.
In this case, Spain, though slightly dependent on Russian gas, is directly affected by it. The MIBGas price of Cal23, for example, which showed values of c. 56 EUR/MWh in February, rose by more than 20% in March and continued to rise in April to reach a maximum of 85 EUR/MWh. There are two main reasons for this increase: 1) Although Spain has 6 LNG regasification plants, the largest portfolio in Europe, nowadays replenished, and so, it´s situation when compared to other European countries is better; in the long term, when these plants need to be replenished, the selling price will be high. 2) The other European gas consuming countries are looking for other sources of supply. Thus, because of « supply-demand », the other gas supplying countries have raised their prices accordingly, affecting Spain. Forecasts from markets analysts are expecting that, in the medium term, the price of natural gas will soar, doubling the gas bill when compared to what we are currently paying.