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Electricity generation and electricity trading in April 2021

11 May 2021 – Electricity consumption in April 2021 was 10% higher than a year earlier. Solar photovoltaic generation set a new weekend record. Germany was a net exporter in commercial foreign trade and can now trade fully with Norway via the NordLink interconnector.

Electricity generation in April 2021 totalled 42.1 TWh (2020: 35.3 TWh). Generation from conventional sources was 44.7% higher than in April 2020 and generation from renewable sources was 0.4% lower.

Electricity consumption in April 2020 was 8.3% lower than a year earlier due to the coronavirus measures. Consumption this April was 10% higher and therefore on the same level again as in previous years.

The chart shows consumption and generation in April 2021.

April record for solar photovoltaic generation

Electricity generation from renewable energy sources reached its highest hourly level of 56.3 GWh on Friday 9 April between 12pm and 1pm and covered 82.6% of the electricity consumption (68.2 GWh), or grid load, during this hour. Solar photovoltaic (PV) generated 27.4 GWh, onshore wind 20.4 GWh and biomass 4.9 GWh. The remaining 3.6 GWh was generated by offshore wind, hydropower and other renewables.

Solar PV generation set a new all-time high during the last weekend in April (24 and 25 April 2021). The level of 517.2 GWh was higher than during any other weekend in April since at least 2015 and covered 22.8% of the electricity consumption (network load).

The chart shows generation from renewable energy sources and total electricity consumption on 24 and 25 April 2021.

Wholesale electricity prices in Germany

The average wholesale price was 53.61 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) and more than three times as high as in April 2020 (€17.09/MWh). One reason for this could be the increase in electricity consumption in April 2021 (up 10%) in conjunction with a slight decrease in renewable generation (down 0.4%) but an increase in conventional generation (up 44.7%).

In April, the hourly products on the EPEX Spot day-ahead market were traded at between negative €52.73/MWh and €125.00/MWh. Negative wholesale electricity prices were recorded in 22 of the 720 hours of trading. In April 2020, higher renewable generation and lower electricity consumption had contributed to negative prices in 40 hours and consequently a lower average price.

Wholesale prices in Germany

April 2021

April 2020

Average [€/MWh]

53.61

17.09

Minimum [€/MWh]

-52.73

-83.94

Maximum [€/MWh]

125.00

69.68

Number of hours with negative prices

22

40

data basis: smard.de

The highest price on the exchange of €125.00/MWh was recorded on Wednesday 14 April between 8am and 9am, when a high level of electricity consumption (67.2 GWh) coincided with a high level of conventional generation (44.5 GWh) and a lower level of renewable generation (21.6 GWh).
The lowest price of negative €52.73/MWh was recorded on Easter Monday (5 April) between 2pm and 3pm. During this hour, the electricity consumption (grid load) of 50.4 GWh was fully met by renewables with a generation of 53.2 GWh.
As a result of the high level of renewable generation, negative wholesale prices were recorded in 17 consecutive hours on that day.

Commercial foreign trade

Overall, Germany exported 2,035 GWh* more electricity than it imported in April, making it a net exporter. Germany had been a net importer in April 2020, importing 596.4 GWh. One possible reason for the shift from net importer to net exporter is the fact that total generation was 19.5% higher while consumption was only 10% higher. There is an interaction between supply and demand across the whole of Europe. Changes in imports and exports can also be the result of price fluctuations and are part of normal market activity. 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.

Available transmission capacity at the national borders also plays a role in commercial foreign trade. One example is the NordLink interconnector, which went into full operation on 12 April 2021, enabling electricity trading between Germany and Norway with a transmission capacity of 1,400 MW. The interconnector has been planned in particular to allow electricity generated using renewable sources to be traded between the two countries. When, for example, a lot of wind electricity is generated in Germany and electricity is especially cheap, the electricity can be exported via the interconnector to Norway, where it can be stored in reservoirs. Conversely, when German demand is high, Germany can import the electricity generated using mainly hydropower from Norway.
Net imports in April after the interconnector went into full operation totalled 312.3 GWh.

The chart shows Germany’s commercial foreign trade with Norway in April 2021.

The highest net export this April was in trading with Austria, with a total of 1,809 GWh (April 2020: 1,337 GWh), followed by France with 996 GWh (2020: net imports of 1,020 GWh) and Czechia with 642 GWh (2020: 504 GWh).

The shift from net importer to net exporter in trade with France is due to changes in the wholesale prices. In April 2020, when Germany was a net importer, the average price of electricity from France was €13.45/MWh. In April 2021, the average price was more than four times as high at €63.10/MWh. Electricity from France was less expensive than in Germany in 378 hours in April 2020, compared with only 24 hours this April. Electricity from Germany was less expensive than in France in 433 hours. One particular reason could be the level of consumption in France, which was 22.3% higher than in April 2020. Consumption in France last April was considerably lower because of the measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

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* 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.

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