Energy Hub – Powered by GET – August 2023
Monthly electricity stats
In July, 52% of electricity came from zero carbon sources, peaking at 86% on 15 July at 3pm. Gas was our largest source of fuel, with 30% of electricity being generated by gas. A gusty month enabled wind to make up 29% of generation, up from 19.2% in June. Peak demand time was 4:30pm on 4 July and, throughout the month, 20TWh of electricity was run through the network, enough to power 20 billion washing machine cycles, or boil over 4,146 billion kettles.
In June, 46% of electricity came from zero carbon sources, solar levels were very high at 9.2% (up from 7% in July) but wind levels were low, 19.2% for the month of June.
Temperatures in NWE are forecast to be climbing to over 4 degrees above SNT in the next few days. The weather forecast suggests warmer temperatures over the coming days in the UK, before dropping closer to SNT for the remainder of the 46 day forecast period. Lower wind speeds today and tomorrow show some possible support for gas for power demand. Temperatures are set to peak on Saturday at over 4 degrees above seasonable norm, but wind speeds are also peaking and solar levels are down. Therefore, Thursday looks like the best day this week, with high solar, high temperatures and low wind levels!
July has been confirmed as the hottest month on record globally after several heatwaves in parts of Europe, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). The global average temperature was 16.95C last month, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 by a substantial 0.33C. Temperatures exceeded 40C last week in several countries across Europe including Greece, France, Italy and Spain. Normally the records are broken by small fractions, hundredths of a degree, therefore for temperature to have increased by such a big margin is worrying to say the least. Sure it’s hard to believe if you stayed in the UK for July, as it did not seem the hottest month here!
As predicted in June ‘At current rates of injection ( 0.3% Pan European/ daily) we should hit 90% capacity by mid-August’, Today 15th August Pan European levels are just above 90%. Therefore, we are on track to get levels to 100% going into winter.
Injections are looking very positive, there are even discussions about possibly filling up the Ukrainian storage facility, it’s located in the southwest region, therefore far enough away from the conflict. To put this into perspective, Pan European levels are at 90% capacity (1,014TWh) , Germany ( the EU’s country with the largest capacity) sits at 92% capacity (230TWh), whereas Ukraine currently has 90TWh and is only sitting at 28% capacity. Therefore, they have room for over 200TWh of gas, if this was part of the European capacity it would increase stock pilled by nearly 20%, this would be a bearish drive on winter prices and give Europe more comfort going into winter. Last year the levels in Ukraine maxed out at 33% on the 6th November.
European natural gas prices surged almost 40% on Wednesday as the potential for disrupted global liquefied natural gas supply from Australia spooked traders betting on further price declines. The Fair Work Commission, Australia’s labour regulator, has given the green light to a workers’ union to vote on whether to stage a strike at Australian LNG plants that account for 10% of the global supply. Workers at Chevron’s LNG export plants Wheatstone and Gorgon have been locked in a dispute with the company over pay and working conditions. Earlier this week, Woodside Energy and Chevron initiated talks with trade unions at their Australian LNG projects in a bid to avoid industrial action.
The move highlights that despite gas storage levels rising close to capacity in the EU, the energy crisis that has roiled the continent for almost two years is not yet over, and markets are still nervous about the vulnerability of supplies. While Australian LNG supplies rarely flow directly to Europe, the EU has become increasingly reliant on global seaborne cargoes of LNG to replace Russian supplies cut since the war in Ukraine. Australia is a vital supplier to Asia, which could put it into competition with Europe for available cargoes should the market tighten. A cut in Australian deliveries would mean that Aisia could compete more for spot cargo from the likes of the US and Qatar. If strikes do go ahead, they are due to start at the end of September.
Germany last year pushed to accelerate the building of its LNG infrastructure, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and a sudden drop in piped Russian gas imports to Europe’s biggest economy that exposed Berlin’s dependence on Russia. In just under a year, three floating terminals were built, granted permission and have entered operation in the ports of Wilhelmshaven, Brunsbuettel and Lubmin, helping Germany to avert an energy shortage last winter. Berlin plans to replace some of its floating terminals with permanent stations from 2026 and has rejected environmental groups’ criticism of excess planned capacity, saying the German ports will also supply European neighbours.
The NFU is calling for farmers to be considered in government plans to roll out new energy infrastructure and given the chance to have their say due to the impact this will have on rural businesses and food production. Plans to revamp national energy infrastructure are currently being considered by the government as part of proposals to connect electricity produced offshore from wind projects and solar farms. This would entail either upgrading existing infrastructure or building a new national transmission network. If given the go-ahead, the plans could result in miles of pylons and overhead cables being installed across thousands of acres of land, causing major disruptions to farmers with a knock-on effect on food production. NFU vice president David Exwood reminded the government of the important role British farm businesses play in generating renewable electricity and the long-lasting impact national infrastructure projects can have on day-to-day farming operations.
Ofgem says current National Grid regime ‘not fit for purpose’ , Ofgem’s chief executive Jonathan Brearley has denounced the decade-long delays by National Grid PLC in connecting low-carbon projects to the electricity grid as “unacceptable”. Statistics recently emerged showing more than half of green power projects in the queue for transmission face waits of more than five years to be connected to the grid. The government’s “lack of vision” in planning the grid is resulting in wait times of up to 15 years, renewables developers have said, making it difficult to attract investment, particularly against progressive subsidies in the US.
Geopolitical conflict primarily stemming from the war in Ukraine has created roadblocks for the energy transition, moving the goalpost for climate objectives. The continued war, challenges with inflation and cost of living are putting a damper on energy transition measures. The war disrupted global energy flows. Russia was once the main crude oil and natural gas supplier to the European economy and sanctions imposed in response to the invasion of Ukraine prompted an urgent search for alternatives. Rather than wind and solar, those alternatives came largely from different fossil fuel producers to avoid a global energy emergency. Liquefied natural gas from the United States is filling much of the void with the long journeys for shipment across the Atlantic.
Progress is still being made on the energy transition. The Western-backed International Energy Agency estimated that more than half of the $2.8 trillion in global energy investments this year target alternative forms of energy. Despite short-term setbacks the longer-term signals clearly point in the direction of decarbonization, but speed and scale are uncertain.
As we have seen last week NBP (UK) LNG prices increased from 2.48p/kWh to 3.4p/kWh on the back of possible industrial action in Australia. Currently we have a healthy supply, low demand and great storage. Could you imagine what would have happened if we were going through a cold spell in winter, with high demand, low storage. One needs to be aware, as I’ve said before that we are far from out of the energy crisis. Prices have bounced back somewhat, now trading around 2.7p/kWh. If strike action does occur this will be due to start at the end of September, if you throw into the mix a cold October, we may see a very strong bullish run into the start of winter.
Next month’s 45-day weather forecast and the winter outlook will give price direction, this will be key to either hedging out fully or floating a small proportion on the prompt.
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