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UK day-ahead power prices gain in volatile trade on market jitters

London — UK day-ahead power contracts climbed higher Monday with sharp price fluctuations on ongoing markets jitters over potential changes to power, gas supplies and exchange rates after the UK voted to leave the EU, sources said.

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Baseload power for Tuesday delivery was last heard trading GBP4.25 higher on the day at GBP41.25/MWh before the S&P Global Platts 11 am London time market close, after changing hands at GBP39.50/MWh earlier in the session.

No peakload contracts traded on Monday and was valued at GBP48.25/MWh as the extended peak contract (7 am to 11 pm delivery) traded at GBP46/MWh and block 6 contract (7 pm to 11 pm delivery) traded at GBP39.25/MWh.

"The market is very nervous, which can be seen in the spot prices that jumped up and down within a few hours," a trader said.

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Also, higher power demand amid falling wind power generation and lower nuclear availability supported the prompt market. According to National Grid, power demand was expected to hit a maximum 37.3 GW on Tuesday, up from around 33 GW Monday.

At the same time, wind power output was set to drop sharply to 1.6 GW Tuesday, compared with a peak wind expectation of nearly 5 GW Monday, the grid data showed.

Furthermore on the generation side, three nuclear units in the UK were taken offline over the weekend, operator EDF Energy said, which reduced nuclear availabilities to around 7 GW.

EDF's 620-MW Hartlepool unit 2 and 504-MW Hinkley Point B unit-8 were taken off the grid Saturday, while the 585-MW Heysham 1 unit 2 was shutdown for planned refuelling Sunday, the operator said.

At midday Monday, gas-fired power stations were generating more than half the UK's electricity supplies, contributing 15.8 GW of power to the grid, while coal plants produced 1.8 GW of power. Nuclear power output fell to below 7 GW at midday Monday, compared with about 8.5 GW seen last week, the grid data showed.

National Grid also said a planned outage on the UK-French 2 GW IFA interconnector will cut French imports to 1.5 GW from early Monday morning. The outage was expected to end late Thursday.