* December decline of 5.5% biggest monthly drop in 2015
* Rebound mainly due to cold Q1, summer heatwave
* Structural power demand still below 2009 levels
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European electricity demand in 2015 was just slightly above 2014 levels as a very mild December saw demand plunge 5.5% from December 2014, erasing most of the temperature-driven demand gains earlier in the year, according to analysis by Societe Generale Commodities Research.
The SocGen data is based on a focus group model of demand figures from France, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Poland and Greece, representing some 63% of total EU power consumption. It does not include Germany.
For the whole of 2015, the SG Elec Pulse registered an increase of 0.4%, the bank said, adding that a "return to more normal weather and a warm summer have contributed to slightly higher consumption" after demand dropped 2.6% in 2014.
Overall, however, demand for electricity in the market area covered by the index remains below 2009 levels despite the economic rebound since the financial crisis, with the annual growth rate calculated at nearly minus 2%.
"Once again, we remark that this is a structural change and that -- even if demand were to recover in 2016 -- the actual weather-independent growth is likely to be tame," the SocGen analysts said in their note.
In last year's annual note, SocGen had said that historic data suggests "we are past peak demand" and that it was "clear that the current multi-year decreasing trend is here to stay." Compared to the peak in 2008, demand in 2015 was still down 7% or nearly 150 TWh for the 10 nations covered, the data shows.
Domestic power demand in Europe's biggest power market Germany, which is not included in the SocGen focus group, is estimated to have risen 0.4% in 2015 compared to 2014, German utility group BDEW said in December.
--Andreas Franke, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, email@example.com