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23 September 2021 - In the month of August electricity consumption was up 0.7% and total electricity generation was down 2.6% compared with August 2020. Germany was a net exporter in commercial foreign trade and the average wholesale price was €82.70/MWh.
Electricity consumption (the network load) was 38.8 TWh, around 0.7% higher than in August 2020.
Total electricity generation was 38.4 TWh, down by 2.6% compared with August 2020.* Renewable energy contributed 47.3% of total generation in the month (August 2020: 43.1%).
Conventional generation this August was 9.7% lower than in August 2020. The largest decrease was in generation from natural gas (-55.2%), followed by pumped storage (-27.4%) and lignite (-3.4%). Electricity generation from nuclear energy increased by 3.6%, hard coal by 32.1%, and other conventional energy sources by 38.1%.
"Other conventional" on SMARD includes generation from waste, mineral oil, oxygen steel furnace gas, blast furnace gas and refinery gas. It also includes generation from derived gas from coal, from gas with a high proportion of hydrogen, from mixtures of more than one fuel type, and from other byproducts of production.
In July there had also been a decrease in generation from natural gas compared with July 2020 (-39.6%). One reason for this is the continued trend in gas prices, from low prices last year to high prices this year. The high gas prices make the operation of gas-fired power plants less profitable. Generation from hard coal, however, regained competitiveness in spite of increased costs for carbon emission allowances.
The 27.4% decline in generation from pumped storage power stations is mainly due to a decrease in available generating capacity as a result of maintenance work that has been in progress since 11 April on the pumped storage power station "Wehr", which has a rated capacity of 910 MW and is one of Germany's largest pumped storage power stations. The work will likely continue until the end of November.
The decline in electricity generation from pumped storage is also reflected in data on electricity offtake of pumped storage (down by 36.2%). Pumped storage’s share in total electricity generation remained low this August at 1.7%, compared with 2.2% in August 2020.
Highest and lowest generation from renewable energy
Generation from renewable energy sources reached its highest level for August 2021 on Tuesday, 17 August. Between 12pm and 1pm it was 57.1 GWh and covered 86.5% of the electricity consumption (the grid load). Onshore wind (27.9 GWh) and PV systems (19.1 GWh) provided the biggest share, followed by biomass (4.1 GWh), offshore wind (3.8 GWh) and hydropower (2.0 GWh). The remaining 0.2 GWh came from other renewables.
The lowest level of renewable generation occurred between 4am and 5am on Saturday, 21 August (7.2 GWh). Biomass provided the biggest share (4.1 GWh), followed by hydropower (2.2 GWh) and onshore wind (0.7 GWh). Offshore wind and other renewables generated the remaining 0.2 GWh.
During this hour generation from all renewables covered 17.9% of the electricity consumption (the grid load).
The level of generation from conventional energy sources during the hours listed above can be displayed in the "Market data visuals" section.
Overall, electricity generation from renewables was 6.9% higher this August than in August 2020. Onshore and offshore wind generated more electricity this August (around 8.1 TWh) than in any other August on record.
The chart illustrates actual electricity generation and consumption in August 2021.
Wholesale electricity prices
The wholesale price in Germany averaged €82.70/MWh, which was more than twice as high as in August 2020 (€34.86/MWh). The trend toward higher wholesale prices could be seen in recent months. In July the average price (€81.37/MWh) was similarly high.
As in July, the reason for this was the conventional power stations' high generation costs, which strongly influence the wholesale prices. They include the costs for fuels and emission allowances, which, as mentioned earlier, have both increased. The coronavirus pandemic caused a temporary, global fall in electricity consumption, which is now returning to its previous level. Rising electricity demand also leads to greater demand for fuels. Higher levels of generation from hard coal, in particular, push up demand for emission allowances as well, making them more expensive. These factors affect the wholesale price. Consequently, overall prices are higher at the moment.
The day-ahead wholesale price did not break the €100/MWh barrier last August and was negative for 4 hours. This August it was negative in nearly three times as many hours (11) but was above €100/MWh in 178 hours. This resulted in a relatively higher average for the 744 hours of trading in August 2021.
Day-ahead wholesale prices in Germany
Number of hours with negative prices
Number of hours with prices >€100/MWh
The highest German wholesale price was €145/MWh and occurred on Thursday, 12 August between 7pm and 8pm. During this hour, the electricity consumption of 57.6 GWh coincided with a low level of renewable generation of 11.2 GWh.
The lowest wholesale price on the day-ahead market was recorded between 2pm and 3pm on Sunday, 8 August and was minus €63.03/MWh. Energy from renewable sources covered around 94.1% of the grid load during this hour.
German wholesale price (daily averages) in August 2021.
Commercial foreign trade
Germany’s neighbouring countries had a similarly high average price (€81.69/MWh). The lowest average price of €71.80/MWh was registered for Norway 2, and the highest average price of €86.62/MWh was registered for the Netherlands.
In August Germany exported around 99.5 GWh more electricity than it imported, making it a net exporter again for the first month since April of this year. Germany was also a net exporter in August 2020, but the net amount was 794.6 GWh. There is an interaction between supply and demand across the whole of Europe. Electricity is produced within Europe wherever it is cheapest. When Germany imports electricity, it benefits from the more favourable conditions for generation in other countries, and vice versa.
Unlike in August 2020, direct trade with Norway and Belgium is now possible. Both countries were net exporters of electricity to Germany in August 2021, which reduced Germany's net exports overall.
In August 2021 Germany was a net exporter of electricity to:
• Netherlands, with 633.2 GWh (net imports in August 2020).
• Austria, with 626.4 GWh (down 14.1% from August 2020);
• Luxembourg, with 297.3 GWh (down 3.1% from August 2020);
• Czechia, with 15.2 GWh (down 48.6% from August 2020).
Germany was a net importer of electricity from:
• Switzerland, with 541.8 GWh (up 69.3% from August 2020); France, with 285.1 GWh (net exports in August 2020);
• Norway, with 220.7 GWh (trading was not yet possible in August 2020);
• Denmark, with 199.3 GWh (net exports in August 2020);
• Poland, with 140.9 GWh (net exports in August 2020).
• Belgium, with 59.6 GWh (trading was not yet possible in August 2020);
• Sweden, with 25.4 GWh (net exports in August 2020)
Net exports in trading with Czechia were 48.6% lower due in part to the wholesale price trends of both countries. In August 2020, electricity from Germany was cheaper than electricity from Czechia in 338 of the 744 hours of trading. In August 2021 this was the case in only 89 hours, and prices were equal in 641 hours of trading.
Price structures were also the reason why net imports in trade with Switzerland were higher. Although the average Swiss price this month was €82.55/MWh and thus only slightly lower than the average German price, a look at hourly prices shows that electricity from Switzerland was cheaper than electricity from Germany in 381 hours of trading (2020: 351 hours). That shifted the distribution from lower German prices in August 2020 to lower Swiss prices in August 2021. In the hours in which electricity from Switzerland was cheaper, sometimes larger quantities of electricity were imported, which led to an overall change in the trade balance.
* The figures above initially suggest net imports for August 2021, but there were actually net exports. This is due to an underestimation of generation levels, because for a few energy sources there is no full coverage of the total generation from measured data, scheduled data, forecasts and/or extrapolated data. Further details are available in the SMARD user guide.