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Europe's energy crisis deepens as gas rally pushes power to unprecedented highs

Highlights

German Cal-22 above Eur300/MWh

French Feb peak trades at Eur2,000/MWh

Gas-fired generation costs above Eur370/MWh

  • Author
  • Andreas Franke
  • Editor
  • Henry Edwardes-Evans
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Natural Gas

Europe's energy crisis deepened Dec. 21 as spiraling gas prices pushed European electricity contracts to unprecedented highs.

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German Cal-2022 baseload power jumped 25% on the day to settle at Eur315.00/MWh.

The benchmark contract traded as high as Eur315.99/MWh on EEX, up over 500% since the start of the year and more than doubling since Dec. 6.

In France, undergoing record-low nuclear availability this winter, February baseload traded at Eur1,000/MWh while peakload traded at Eur2,000/MWh amid very thin volumes, with just 1 MW traded for each contract, EEX data showed.

Gas prices continued to soar Dec. 21 across the board with Platts assessing TTF front-month at a record Eur180.30/MWh, up 23% on the days and also doubling since Dec. 6.

The January 2021 contract was assessed at Eur16.825/MWh exactly a year ago.

The on-year gain for gas alone added some Eur330/MWh to gas-fired power generation costs for January 2022.

On the spot, French and German day-ahead power settled above Eur400/MWh for a second day in a row, Epex Spot data showed.

A swing to milder and windier weather as well as reduced demand over the holidays were set to deflate spikes.

French nuclear availability improved slightly above 43 GW with the Paluel 1 reactor restarting Dec. 21, while Blayais 4 was delayed another day to Dec. 22.

French utility EDF said Dec. 15 that faults detected at two rectors at Civaux prompted a preventative shutdown of two similar units at Chooz, an estimated reduction in planned production of 8 TWh between now and April.

Platts Analytics cut its French nuclear output assumption to a record-low of 48.8 GW for January and 47.9 GW for February.

French energy minister Barbara Pompili said Dec. 19 that a "general black-out was not happening this winter", the minster asking EDF to mobilize all available resources to return reactors as soon as safely possible.

Maintenance work would continue over the Christmas break, the minister said in an interview with FranceInfo.

French grid operator RTE can also trigger interruptible contracts and lower voltage on the grid, the minister said.

RTE's updated winter outlook was due Dec. 30. It has already warned of security of supply risks in January and February.