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Many storms in the course of the month - Electricity generation and electricity trading in March 2021

15 April 2021 - Electricity consumption and electricity generation were up by 1% and 3.1% respectively compared with the same month of the previous year. The average wholesale price (€47.16/MWh) was more than twice the average in March 2020. Germany was a net exporter in commercial foreign trade.

Electricity generation totalled 44.8 TWh in March (2020: 43.8 TWh). Generation from conventional sources was 20.5% higher than in March 2020 and generation from renewable sources was 12.2% lower.
Electricity consumption (43.1 TWh) was slightly higher than in March 2020 (42.7 TWh). There were, however, fluctuations over the course of the weeks due to the coronavirus measures and electricity consumption was sometimes lower.

The chart illustrates the development of electricity consumed from March 2020 to March 2021.

Electricity generation from renewable energy sources

Electricity generation from renewable energy sources reached its highest level within a single hour (67.3 GWh) on Friday 12 March between 12pm and 1pm. During this time renewables accounted for 78.4% of total generation and covered 94.8% of the grid load. At the same time wind and photovoltaic generation in this hour was the highest so far this year (60.9 GWh). This time period coincided with a storm that lasted several days, resulting in increased feed-in from wind plants.

There were several storms in March, the effects of which are visible in the data.

Overall, generation from renewable energy sources was 12.2% beneath its level from the same month a year earlier, in spite of the fact that winds were also strong in March 2021. Wind generation in particular was significantly higher last year: Compared with this year, generation from onshore and offshore wind installations was higher by 21.2% and 10.1%, respectively.  Feed-in from photovoltaic installations was, in contrast, 0.7% higher in March of this year.

Wholesale electricity prices in Germany

The average wholesale electricity price (€47.16/MWh) was more than twice the average in the same month of the previous year (€22.49/MWh). The average price had also doubled in February. One reason for the higher prices could be the comparatively higher electricity consumption occurring at the same time as the lower feed-in from renewables.

The hourly products on the EPEX Spot day-ahead market were traded at between minus 49.99 and plus 103.71 euros per megawatt hour (€/MWh). There was a large number of negative wholesale prices in March 2020 due to the increased feed-in from renewables and the relatively low electricity consumption starting at the middle of the month. At the time that resulted in a reduction of the average price.

Großhandelspreise in Deutschland

March 2021

March 2020

Average [€/MWh]



Minimum [€/MWh]



Maximum [€/MWh]



Number of hours with negative prices



Data basis: smard.de

On the day-ahead market exchange the highest price of last month (€103.71/MWh) was recorded between 7pm and 8pm on Monday 8 March. The high price was due in particular to the electricity consumption of 65.3 GWh coinciding in that hour with a low level of renewable generation (11 GWh) and a high level of conventional generation (51 GWh).

The lowest price was recorded between 1pm and 2pm on Sunday 28 March and was minus 49.99 euros per megawatt hour. During this time electricity consumption of 51 GWh was met completely by renewable generation of 54.2 GWh. Beginning at 1pm there were five consecutive hours of trading at negative prices, causing the "four-hour rule" to take effect. If the day-ahead price on the electricity exchange is negative for a period of at least four consecutive hours, the operators of larger new installations receiving payments under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) do not receive the market premium as from the first hour in the period with negative prices.

The chart shows the actual figures for generation, consumption and the wholesale price on 28 March 2021.

Commercial foreign trade

Overall, Germany exported 2,120 GWh* more electricity than it imported in March, making it a net exporter. In March 2020 net exports were 2,181 GWh and hence this year slightly lower in comparison.

At what point in time electricity is imported or exported does not depend solely on supply and demand in the country in question, but also on the electricity prices in the other countries. Wholesale prices determined as a part of market coupling result from what are known as the relative generation costs, which vary over time. Wholesale prices are influenced by various factors, including the fluctuating wind and sun conditions, the cost of fuels and the cost of emission allowances. Available transmission capacity at the national borders also plays a role. Electricity trading with Belgium also began in mid-November 2020. This is made possible by the new direct electricity link ALEGrO (Aachen Lüttich Electricity Grid Overlay).
Changes in imports and exports are the result of price fluctuations and are part of normal market activity. They reflect the interaction of supply and demand throughout the whole of Europe.

There was a shift from net importer to net exporter in commercial foreign trade with France compared with a year earlier: Germany recorded net imports of 32 GWh of electricity from France in March 2020, compared to net exports of around 461 GWh to France in March of this year. The shift could be due to the two countries' wholesale electricity prices. Electricity from Germany was less expensive than in France for 275 hours of trading. This was the case in only 180 hours in March 2020. Coronavirus infection rates in France at that time led to earlier closings of public facilities than in Germany and also to curfews. This resulted in a comparatively low demand for electricity and thus also lower French wholesale electricity prices.

The highest net export this March (2,264 GWh) was in trading with Austria, followed by Switzerland (690 GWh) and France.
* The net exports referred to in the text also include commercial foreign trade with Belgium, which began in mid-November 2020. Commercial foreign trade with Belgium is currently not yet included on the charts, however, and is therefore also not included in the net export indicated on the charts. The two values may therefore deviate from one another.