French-German Power Spread Widens to Most in Year on Record Wind

The gap between power prices in Germany and France widened to the biggest in almost a year amid forecast record wind output in Germany and cooler weather in its southwestern neighbor.

The spread between day-ahead prices in Europe’s two biggest electricity markets rose to 40.60 euros ($55) a megawatt-hour, the biggest gap since Dec. 25 in a daily auction on the Epex Spot SE exchange. Wind output in Germany is forecast to peak at 31,143 gigawatts at 6 p.m. Berlin time tomorrow, according to Bloomberg’s wind model.

Demand for power in France, where electricity is more popular for heating homes than in Germany, has risen as temperatures are forecast to drop below normal levels. Wind power in Germany is given priority access to the grid, damping prices, while unplanned halts at nuclear reactors in France have helped push up costs.

“France has colder weather on the way, nuclear outages and delayed restarts supporting the recent higher prices,” Gary Hornby, an analyst an Inenco Group Ltd., says by e-mail. “Germany should see very strong wind power in the coming days, so the spread may widen further this week.”

German day-ahead power settled 28 percent lower at 34.32 euros a megawatt-hour while the French contract rose 4.4 percent to 74.92 euros on Epex.

Temperatures in France tomorrow are expected to drop to 4.3 degrees Celsius (40 Fahrenheit), or 2.3 degrees below the seasonal norm, according to MetraWeather data using the GFS model at 4:36 p.m. Paris time. Demand is forecast to peak at 83,300 megawatts tomorrow compared with 81,100 megawatts on Dec. 6, according to data from French grid operator RTE.

Cold Snap

Electricite de France SA had an unplanned halt at its Fessenheim-1 French nuclear reactor on Dec. 2 and delayed the start of its Cruas-2 unit by one day to tomorrow, RTE data show. French nuclear availability is 88 percent today compared with 90 percent at the same time last year, according to RTE data compiled by Bloomberg. France gets about 75 percent of its power from nuclear reactors.

A sustained cold snap in France of 6 to 8 degrees Celsius below the norm would mean the nation needs to import as much as 3,600 megawatts, or power equivalent to three big nuclear plants, according to grid operator RTE.

Power flows from Germany to France will be limited to 1,200 megawatts during some hours tomorrow, according to data from Entso-e’s transparency website. That compares with as much as 4,800 megawatts today, according to data from German grid operator Amprion.

“We have a super peak estimated for wind in Germany tomorrow,” Paolo Coghe, an analyst at Societe Generale SA, said by phone from Paris. “Put that together with lots of demand in France and limited interconnection and you see why prices have diverged.”

The spread between the next-year contracts in Germany and France has also widened, with the French contract at a 6.40 euro premium, compared with 2.8 euros this time last year, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg.

The gap could be expected to widen on average next year, Hornby said.

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