Hydropower situation during 2021
Electricity generated by hydropower across the Alp region (France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany) has an average annual net production of about 187 TWh - covering approximately 14% of total consumption in the area. Of these countries, France has the highest hydropower output at 59 TWh net, while Switzerland and Austria at about 35 TWh are what we would consider as the most typical hydropower areas – which cover about 50% of their consumption from hydropower.
This blog post from EQ contains a short review of the hydropower conditions for 2021, as well as a view of the current situation and hydrological balance.
The chart of the hydrological balance below shows how the hydropower situation developed during 2021. Q1 and Q2 had some very wet periods, such as the extreme flooding incident in Germany for example, while we saw a dry period lasting from August until the end of November. December came out rather wet, and we saw increased hydropower output towards the New Year weekend.
The Alp region’s monthly production levels are displayed in the chart below (TWh/month). We saw production dive during March/April due to the delayed snowmelt, before increasing production during the wet summer period, followed by lower production than normal during Q4. To some extent, this helped contribute to the strong spot prices we saw during the period too.
The yearly production figures were fairly equally distributed across the region, with Germany proving the only exception, producing 85% of the normally expected levels of power generation from hydropower.
Outlooks for 2022
By the beginning of January, the hydrological balance for the Alp region was positive between 4-5 TWh, but had already begun to decline by the end of that month. The latest precipitation outlooks (28. Jan) show slightly higher levels of precipitation than normal, so the hydrological balance is expected to be more or less at normal levels 1 or 2 weeks into February. With the hydrological balance being relatively neutral at the moment, no market signals in one direction or the other are being given.
However, production levels are slightly lower than normal when we look at the January numbers. This is displayed in the table below.
Overall, the hydro production for the region is about 2500 MW lower than normal for January, and we don’t see any improvement coming in the weeks to come. Production is highly dependent on the inflows to the run-river plants, so the most likely scenario is that hydropower production will come out slightly lower than normal for February too.
In the table below we have summarised the hydropower situation for the end of week 4 2022. We see that France and Austria have a positive hydrological balance, which partly explains why they both had nearly normal levels of production during January. Conversely, both Switzerland and Italy came out at 78% of normal production for January and have a hydrological deficit of around 2 TWh each by the end of week 4.
In conclusion, the current hydropower output in the Alp region is slightly lower than normal. It will be very interesting to see if the hydropower output will increase in the coming weeks and months, potentially contributing to lower spot prices than those we have seen in recent times.
Please contact EQ if you have questions about the hydropower situation or our hydropower reports. EQ can be contacted at email@example.com