German nuclear closures could embed gas competition

  • Spanish Market: Electricity, Natural gas
  • 13/04/23

The impending closure of Germany's remaining nuclear plants this weekend might raise the call on gas-fired generation to fill the gap as falling gas prices have pushed gas ahead of coal in the merit order, although a rise in renewable generation may counter the upside.

The three remaining nuclear power stations which were meant to go off line by the end of 2022 are on track to close on 15 April, while output from the plants has already been reduced gradually since the beginning of this year. Nuclear power generation made up roughly 4.5pc of the German generation mix so far this year at 2.68GW, down from 6.5pc at 3.74GW in 2022.

Day-ahead spark spreads for gas-fired units with 55pc efficiency have hovered just inside positive territory so far this month, having averaged minus €10.50/MWh in March, while they have remained well ahead of 38pc-efficient coal-fired units in the merit order (see graph). And forward prices suggest that gas will remain more profitable than coal to burn for power generation over the rest of the summer. This suggests that gas-fired stations could take a larger share of the power mix once the nuclear stations are shut down — although the extent of this depends on output from renewable energies.

The last nuclear stations that were closed, according to schedule at the end of 2021 — the Grohnde, Gundremmingen and Brokdorf units — left roughly 4GW of baseload capacity to be replaced. Fuel-switching levels were largely in favour of coal ahead of gas in January 2022, but most of the lost capacity was at the time replaced by a surge in wind generation.

Fuel-switching levels now paint a markedly different picture, as high gas stocks across Europe as well as brisk European LNG sendout may free up ample spare gas supply for the power sector. And a ramp-up in Germany's LNG sendout may further bolster supply — the country's regasification reached fresh highs in recent days.

In addition, forecasts point to slightly lower wind power generation on 16-17 April, which could add support to gas burn, while potentially prolonged curtailments to French nuclear generation as a result of strike action could also add upside.

German energy and water association BDEW managing director Kerstin Andreae this week highlighted that flexible gas-fired power plants were needed to "provide guaranteed output as a partner of the renewables" as nuclear energy has constituted a significant share of the mix so far this year.

"The strategy of the federal government to rely on hydrogen-capable gas-fired power plants and to increase gas imports to Germany" is the right one, according to Andreae.

The country's energy supply security will "remain guaranteed" despite the closure of the nuclear fleet, German economy and climate protection minister Robert Habeck said today.

German day-ahead fossil fuel operarting margins €/MWh

Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

18/06/24

Tropical storm warning for South Texas coast: Update

Tropical storm warning for South Texas coast: Update

Updates with closure of Galveston, Texas City ports. New York, 18 June (Argus) — A tropical storm warning has been issued for parts of south Texas and northeastern Mexico, bringing with it the risk of heavy rainfall and flooding. The warning is in effect for the Texas coast from Port O'Connor south to the mouth of the Rio Grande, as well as the northeastern coast of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. "The disturbance is very large with rainfall, coastal flooding, and wind impacts likely to occur far from the center along the coasts of Texas and northeastern Mexico," the center said overnight. Maximum sustained winds this morning remained near 40 mph and the disturbance is forecast to become a tropical storm by Wednesday. The system has been classified as a potential tropical cyclone by the center since it has not yet become better organized, but is expected to become the first named storm system of the year by early Wednesday. The port of Corpus Christi in South Texas and the Houston Ship Channel remained open as of Tuesday morning, but the nearby ports of Galveston and Texas City closed to inbound and outbound shipping traffic at 10pm ET Monday due to heavy weather, the US Coast Guard said. The system was expected to disrupt ship-to-ship transfer operations off the Texas coast as of Monday evening because of heavy seas. In the Gulf of Mexico, the transfer typically is from an Aframax or Suezmax onto a very large crude carrier (VLCC) at designated lightering zones near Corpus Christi, Galveston and Beaumont-Port Arthur. Prolonged lightering delays can prevent crude tanker tonnage from becoming available and exert upward pressure on freight rates, while also adding to demurrage fees. The storm is expected to turn towards the west-northwest and west tonight and Wednesday, with the system forecast to approach the western Gulf coast late Wednesday, the NHC said. Rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches are seen across northeast Mexico into South Texas, with maximum totals of 15 inches possible. Flash and urban flooding are likely to follow with river flooding. By Stephen Cunningham and Tray Swanson Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Ecuador cuts power as heavy rains hurt hydro


18/06/24
18/06/24

Ecuador cuts power as heavy rains hurt hydro

Quito, 18 June (Argus) — Ecuador restarted daily two-hour power outages this week across the country because of issues in the 1.5GW Coca-Codo Sinclaire, 156MW Agoyan and 230MW San Francisco hydroelectric plants. Heavy rainfalls near Coca-Codo Sinclair have increased sediments in the Coca river that feeds the plant, forcing six of its eight turbines out of operation. The plant is the largest generator in the country and is in the provinces of Napo and Sucumbios, in the northeast of the country. In addition, Agoyan's engine house flooded also because of the massive rainfalls and landslides in the central highlands of the country where the plant is located. And the San Francisco plant, downstream of Agoyan, stopped generating as well because it uses the same water supply as Agoyan. Ecuador has lost about 1.5GW-1.9GW of power capacity in recent days because of these issues and 400MW of power capacity available for imports from its northern neighbor Colombia were not enough to prevent the need for rolling outages. The energy ministry will update its plans for outages this week based on the status of the three hydroelectric plants. Ecuador implemented 2–8-hour blackouts for 12 days from 16-30 April because of a lack of rain in the main hydroelectric plants after dry conditions also led to 35 days of blackouts from October-December 2023. By Alberto Araujo Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Tropical storm warning for South Texas coast


18/06/24
18/06/24

Tropical storm warning for South Texas coast

New York, 18 June (Argus) — A tropical storm warning has been issued for parts of South Texas and northeastern Mexico, bringing with it the risk of heavy rainfall and flooding. The warning is in effect for the Texas coast from Port O'Connor south to the mouth of the Rio Grande, as well as the northeastern coast of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. "The disturbance is very large with rainfall, coastal flooding, and wind impacts likely to occur far from the center along the coasts of Texas and northeastern Mexico," the center said overnight. Maximum sustained winds this morning remained near 40 mph and the disturbance is forecast to become a tropical storm by Wednesday. The system has been classified as a potential tropical cyclone by the center since it has not yet become better organized, but is expected to become the first named storm system of the year by early Wednesday. The system was expected to disrupt ship-to-ship transfer operations off the Texas coast as of Monday evening because of heavy seas. In the Gulf of Mexico, the transfer typically is from an Aframax or Suezmax onto a very large crude carrier (VLCC) at designated lightering zones near Corpus Christi, Galveston and Beaumont-Port Arthur. Prolonged lightering delays can prevent crude tanker tonnage from becoming available and exert upward pressure on freight rates, while also adding to demurrage fees. The storm is expected to turn towards the west-northwest and west tonight and Wednesday, with the system forecast to approach the western Gulf coast late Wednesday, the NHC said. Rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches are seen across northeast Mexico into South Texas, with maximum totals of 15 inches possible. Flash and urban flooding are likely to follow with river flooding. By Stephen Cunningham Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Shell buys Singapore LNG firm Pavilion Energy


18/06/24
18/06/24

Shell buys Singapore LNG firm Pavilion Energy

Singapore, 18 June (Argus) — Shell has bought from state-controlled investment firm Temasek the Singapore-based LNG firm Pavilion Energy, which currently has about 6.5mn t/yr of term contracted supplies. The deal is expected to be finalised by next year's first quarter, subject to regulatory approvals and fulfilment of other conditions, Shell said on 18 June. Financial details of the acquisition were undisclosed. Pavilion's term LNG supplies come from producers including Cheniere's 11.5mn t/yr Corpus Christi liquefaction facility in the US, the 22mn t/yr Bonny export terminal in Nigeria and Norway's 4.2mn t/yr Hammerfest export terminal. The firm also operates in the LNG bunker market, tracking the growing number of LNG bunker vessels operating in Singapore. It supplied over 16-17 February the dual-fuel bulk carrier Mount Api with LNG through the firm's 12,000m³ Brassavola LNG bunkering vessel. The Pavilion acquisition puts Shell in a position to capitalise on the growing LNG bunkering market. Demand for LNG as a bunker fuel in May at the port of Singapore touched a record high of 48,800t, on par with biofuels, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. Pavilion Energy and Shell each hold one term LNG import licence for Singapore, granted by regulator the Energy Market Authority. The other two licence holders are ExxonMobil and Singapore's Sembcorp Fuels. By Rou Urn Lee Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Iran rebukes G7 over nuclear warning: Update


17/06/24
17/06/24

Iran rebukes G7 over nuclear warning: Update

Adds quotes from IAEA director general Dubai, 17 June (Argus) — Iran's foreign ministry has called on the G7 to distance itself from "destructive policies of the past" after the group issued a statement condemning Tehran's recent nuclear programme escalation. "Unfortunately, some countries, driven by political motives and by resorting to baseless and unproven claims, attempt to continue their failed and ineffective policy of imposing and maintaining sanctions against the Iranian nation," the foreign ministry's spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on 16 June. Kanaani advised the G7 "to learn from past experiences and distance itself from destructive past policies". His comments were in response to a joint statement from G7 leaders on 14 June warning Iran against advancing its nuclear enrichment programme. The leaders said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia. The G7's reference to Iran comes on the heels of a new resolution passed by the board of governors of the UN's nuclear watchdog the IAEA . The resolution calls on Iran to step up co-operation and reverse its decision to restrict the agency access to nuclear facilities by de-designating inspectors. Kanaani said "any attempt to link the war in Ukraine to the bilateral co-operation between Iran and Russia is an act with only biased political goals", adding that some countries are "resorting to false claims to continue sanctions" against Iran. Tehran will continue its "constructive interaction and technical co-operation" with the IAEA, Kanaani said. But the agency's resolution is "politically biased", he said. Not an "anti-Iran" policy In an interview with the Russian daily newspaper Izvestia published today, IAEA director general Rafael Grossi refused claims of political bias. "We do co-operate with Iran. I don't deny this. This is important for inspection. My Iranian colleagues often say that Iran is the most inspected country in the world. Well, it is, and for good reason. But this is not enough," Grossi said, adding that the IAEA does not adhere to an "anti-Iran policy". Grossi also stressed the need for countries to return to diplomacy with Iran, while expressing concerns over the expansion of its nuclear programme. "Russia plays a very important role in this diplomacy, trying to keep the Iranian programme within a predictable and peaceful framework. But again, everything needs to be controlled," he said. The IAEA's new resolution and the reference to Iran in the G7 statement could be the start of a more concerted effort to raise pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme. "What is happening right now is the process of accumulation of resolutions, so that when the day comes and the IAEA makes a referral to the UN Security Council, there will be enough resolutions to make a case for action at the security council level," a diplomatic source told Argus . Iran is enriching uranium to as high as 60pc purity. Near 90pc is considered to be weapons grade, according to the IAEA. By Bachar Halabi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more