Europe's Energy Prices Hit New Record Highs As Cold Snap Arrives

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Dec 20, 2021 - 01:53 PM

Update (0853ET): Europe's energy crisis worsened Monday as the Northern Hemisphere winter is about to begin. Colder weather plagued parts of Europe with zero degrees Celsius, straining electricity grids already dealing with unreliable green energy sources (such as low wind power generation) and nuclear power plant outages in France. 

Let's begin and take a look at soaring day-ahead electricity prices across Europe. Bloomberg's Chief Energy Correspondent Javier Blas pointed out, "electricity prices across much of Europe set fresh and frightening record highs."

Blas pointed out that German day-ahead electricity prices are at 431 euros per megawatt-hour, a record high. 

Germany is an economic powerhouse on the continent, and high power prices could force energy-intensive industries to shutter operations and re-sell their power on spot markets. 

In France, several nuclear power plants have reduced output due to safety woes and a worker strike, straining the grid and sending power prices to decade highs. 

This year, energy prices have soared, with European natural gas prices surging more than 600%. The region's benchmark gas contract rose by 8.8% early Monday. 

With more nuclear power plant outages and unreliable green energy, electricity producers will use more gas to produce energy. However, supply constraints persist as the amount of gas entering Germany at the Mallnow compressor station collapsed over the weekend; storage tanks on the continent are only 60% filled, a record low for this time of year.

While gas prices in Europe remain at record levels, there's been an entirely different situation in the US with warm weather and abundance of gas have depressed prices.

Europe's energy crisis appears far from over as market tightness and colder weather will continue pushing up power prices that will strain households and businesses. 

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Bloomberg's Chief Energy Correspondent Javier Blas tweeted a disturbing map of European day-ahead electricity prices that will hit record highs on Monday. 

"EUROPEAN ENERGY CRISIS: Wow, wow, wow... I'm running out of words to describe the European short-term electricity market," Blas said. 

He continued, "Multiple records breached for Monday. With the exception of Poland and Scandinavia, all Europe is above €300 per MWh (France and Switzerland near €400)."

The continuation of surging power prices, as Blas explained, is due to "Lots of nuclear reactors are down, demand is high (electricity used for heating), so it's burning gas to bridge the gap." 

Days ago, we told readers multiple nuclear power plants in France were taken offline due to routine safety inspections that found cracks at one power plant. 

European daily power demand continues to soar as colder-than-normal temperatures are present across the continent.

Benchmark natural gas prices surged to a new high last week, up more than 650% on the year, on concerns of declining gas flows via the Yamal-Europe pipeline that runs across Belarus and Poland to Mallnow, Germany; low storage on the continent, and geopolitical risk. 

European natural gas prices hit a new record high. 

The amount of gas entering Germany at the Mallnow compressor station collapsed. The pipeline only booked for 4% of space for Dec. 20. 

The latest geopolitical flare-up occurred last week when Germany's federal network agency, Bundesnetzagentur, said Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline won't be cleared until July. On Sunday, Germany said they could entirely block the Nord Stream 2 if a possible conflict between Russia and Ukraine erupts. 

Europe's energy crisis worsens and risks sparking discontent among many Europeans. How long until politicians order utilities to implement price caps on power rates? If politicians want to stay in power, they might also have to subsidize people's power bills as energy inflation runs wild.