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German Cal 17 forward power price gains on coal; spot drops on holiday ahead of cold snap

London — * Coal near 2-year high, gas gains lift German front-year
* German Cal 17 vs 18 spread widens to Eur5 on price zone split
* Holiday, surge in wind, Belgian reactor return ease pressure on spot
* French week-above base above Eur100/MWh on cold snap fears

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European forward power prices continued to rise Monday as front-year coal rose above $70/mt -- a level not seen since 2014, while gas prices also rose amid a cold start for November, while spot power prices eased due to Tuesday's All Saints holiday across the region and a surge in wind power forecast in Germany.

German baseload power for Cal 17 delivery, the benchmark for European power, was heard at Eur33.40/MWh just before noon London time, up 40 euro cent on last Friday and on track for its highest close since March last year.

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The German Cal has risen over 30% since early September and has recovered almost 60% from record lows in back February on track for its first year-on-year gain by year-end since 2011.

In underlying markets, year-ahead CIF ARA coal into Europe rose almost $2 to $71.50/mt amid continued upward pressure in the Asian market, while gas markets also moved higher amid colder-than-normal temperatures for November.

The premium of Cal 17 over Cal 18 widened to over Eur5 Monday, up from zero less than four months ago with the surprise decision by the German regulator to abandon the common power price zone with Austria from summer 2018 adding another bearish factor to Cal 18, trading Monday at Eur28.30/MWh.


WIND SURGE AHEAD OF COLD SNAP


On the prompt, German day-ahead power dropped sharply and was last heard OTC at Eur35/MWh baseload and Eur37/MWh peakload, down Eur8 and Eur13.25 compared to Friday's price for Monday.

Additionally to the lower power demand due to the holiday in Germany's predominantly Catholic states, supply was boosted by a sharp increase in renewables output.

Wind was forecast to rise to 12 GW for Tuesday's average baseload hours, up from just under 2 GW on Monday, according to http://spotrenewables.com.

German plant availability for Tuesday was set to increase with EEX Transparency pegging coal and lignite at 32.4 GW with nuclear adding a further 10.5 GW.

In France, baseload power for Tuesday delivery was last heard trading OTC at Eur43.75/MWh, down Eur15.5 from Friday's close of Monday base, while peakload was last heard at Eur43/MWh, down Eur26.

However, Epex Spot settled considerably above OTC levels.

"The spot came out Eur4 above OTC despite the holiday tomorrow, while Swiss prices came out Eur3 below OTC. And for today, a bridging day, France came out Eur12 below the Swiss day-ahead in the peaks and Eur17 below OTC traded on Friday," a trader said.

In neighboring Italy, day-ahead baseload power settled Eur7.20 above the French OTC price, providing some support for the French spot.

In Belgium, spot prices also dropped sharply after spiking above Eur100/MWh last week with nuclear operator Engie Electrabel returning the 1 GW Tihange 3 reactor on Saturday evening.

However, further out, French week-ahead baseload jumped and traded above Eur100/MWh with temperatures next week set to drop more than 3 C below the norm for this season, and demand is seen increasing to 76.4 GW during peakload hours, according to the latest data from French grid operator RTE.

Nuclear availability is set to be lower also after EDF delayed the return online of its 915-MW St Laurent-2 nuclear power plant. The plant was due back online on November 5 and its outage has been extended to November 12.

French November baseload was last seen trading at Eur88/MWh, up Eur1.30 from Friday's close.