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Italy, Spain further restrict activity, quashing power demand in both markets

Highlights

Italy closes non-essential industry -- energy exempt

Spain to extend deadline, halt interruptions

Italian load down 21% on year, Spain down 12%

Barcelona — Italy's government Sunday moved to extend the shutdown of the country by ordering closure of all non-essential industrial and commercial activities until April 3.

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The energy industry as whole is among those exempted due to its strategic nature, along with food and heat supplies among others, according to Sunday's decree.

The decree singled out refining, power generating, chemicals, rubber, plastics and aluminum as sectors that would be allowed to continue operations under the new decree, while other industries not covered are permitted to continue working remotely.

The decree also forbids people from moving out of their zone without valid reason.

Italy is Europe's worst-affected country by the coronavirus pandemic and is set to extend the quarantine of its citizens beyond April 3, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti said last week in an interview with Corriere della Sera.

In the second week of March, power volume on Italy's IPEX market took a hit of around 5% with 5.4 TWh transacted in the week to March 15. This volume fell further to around 4.8 TWh in the following week, although Sunday data was incomplete.

The peakload price during the week to March fell 6% to Eur42.56/MWh while baseload was down 3% to Eur26.24/MWh from volumes pre-lockdown.

For the following week, peakload slumped to an average of Eur31.57/MWh for Monday to Saturday and baseload to an average Eur30.68/MWh, with peakload quoting at a discount of nearly a euro to baseload on Wednesday.

Spain considering extensions

The situation that Italy has seen is unfolding in a similar fashion in Spain, where the economic effects are estimated to have around a 10-day lag to Italy.

Spain is also mulling extending its lockdown period and tightening its measures against the virus, with a likely extension until April 11.

The country has already passed a decree to suspend cuts to interruptible contracts as industrial demand falls off.

Large swathes of industry have already closed, including the country's largest auto plants, with total demand dropping as a result.

Demand in the week March 16-22 was 4.3 TWh, down 9% from the previous week, according to data from Red Electrica de Espana.

Spanish large user demand data for February showed a small positive, making it the first increase since April 2018, helped by the calendar effect.

However, even prior to the shutdown, certain large industrial sectors, such as metals, chemicals and autos showed negative figures for February, meaning their power demand has been in decline for close to two years.

Italian load down 21%

Consumption data from electricity system operator association Entso-e showed Italian load down 21% year on year on Friday at 27.68 GW.

In Spain load on Friday averaged over the day was 12% down on the same day last year.

Comparing last Friday's load to that on the first Friday of March this year, Italian demand was down 6.3% and Spanish demand down 14.3%.