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Power demand declines across Europe as lockdowns bite

Highlights

Demand down 15% in Italy, 9% in France

German month-ahead power price down 24%

Further downward revisions 'likely'

London — Consumption of electricity is falling across Europe as coronavirus-related lockdowns begin to bite, data from Entso-e's transparency website showed Wednesday.

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Load data showed year on year mid-March working day demand down on Monday and Tuesday this week by around 15% in Italy, 9% in France, 6% in the UK and 2.5% in Germany.

The gaps are larger over a two-year view, when demand in March 2018 was heightened by the tail end of the "Beast from the East" cold spell.

Compared with mid-March 2018, demand this week is down 22% in France, 19% in Italy, 11.6% in the UK and 4.5% in Germany.

Meanwhile data from Spain's system operator, REE, show Spanish power demand down 5% for the first full day of a 15-day lockdown Monday.

S&P Global Platts Analytics said while industrial demand for power and gas has started to fall, a sustained drop for at least a year would be required to have an impact in line with the 2008 financial crisis. In 2009, industrial power demand in Italy, Germany and France was down by around 14% on the year.

Price crash

In line with commodity price routs across the board, front-month power contracts have fallen sharply in Europe, down 24% in Germany since the start of March, with big falls registered almost everywhere else.

After a brief period of resilience, meanwhile, EU carbon allowance prices have also crashed, down over 30% in a week.

On March 13 the European Commission said EU GDP would likely drop 1% in 2020, compared with a 1.4% growth forecast made a month earlier.

"The new forecasts suggest an absolute drop in industrial emissions of at least 10 million–20 million mt in 2020, provided industrial production falls in line with GDP," research unit Energy Aspects said Monday.

Flight cancellations at 75% would reduce EU aviation emissions by around 4.4 million mt for every month of disruption versus a scenario without coronavirus, it said.

"Further downward revisions to our emissions forecasts for 2020 are likely as the pandemic continues to spread," it said.

MONTH AHEAD BASELOAD POWER CONTRACTS (Eur/MWh)
March 18, 2020
March 2, 2020
% chg
Germany
21.5
28.25
-24%
France
22.2
28.12
-21%
Italy
28.4
36.5
-22%
Spain
27
33.26
-19%
GB
33.5
35.78
-6%