Electricity prices could return to normal next week

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Charger and extension cord plugged into outlets.
Charger and extension cord plugged into outlets. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

According to Eesti Energia's market analysis strategist Olavi Miller, high electricity prices are linked to two major power outages in Finland. Miller explained, that the price of electricity is likely to normalize early next week once the outages have been resolved.

On Monday evening, the market price of electricity will peak at €550 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in both Finland and the Baltics. The daily average price will also be high in all four countries, though slightly higher in Estonia and Finland than Latvia and Lithuania.

"The reason is very specific and clear - there are two faults, which have coincided. Last Friday evening, Olkiluoto's second reactor was shut down because a leak was detected in the cooling system. That's 890 MW, which is pretty big. Shortly afterwards, on August 19, Saturday, the Swedish-Finnish electricity connection was cut, and 600 MW went. So in total, there is now essentially 1,500 MW less supply in Finland.  As a result, whereas before Finland could import from its nuclear plant and  make up the shortfall from Sweden, now the shortfall can only be imported from the Baltics via Estonia," Miller said.

This has pushed up prices in both Finland and the Baltics. According to Miller, the issue in Sweden should be resolved on Wednesday, after which prices may begin to come back down. However, the Olikiluoto reactor outage has been extended until next Monday.

"After next Monday, the usual summer prices could return. It does also depend a bit. There's little wind at the moment, so that doesn't help prices," Miller said. 

Europe is better prepared for this winter than the last one. According to Miller, this is mainly because Europe's gas reserves are now at 90 percent, which puts it in a very strong position to face the coming winter. "What the price level is going to be depends on what the winter looks like. Whether it's a cold winter or a mild winter. Last year was a relatively mild winter in Europe. If we have a normal or colder than normal winter, gas supplies will start to fall," Miller said.

Miller added, that much of Europe's LNG (liquified natural gas) reception capacity is still under construction. While there are three LNG terminals in operation in Germany, this will not be enough to meet the country's winter gas demand on a continuous basis.

"As gas supplies start to decline, the price of gas will go up. As the price of gas goes up, electricity prices go up too," Miller said.

Last winter, one of the issues under discussion was the possibility of returning to burning more fossil fuels. According to Miller, high prices generate a lot of emotions. "However, in the long term, it still makes sense to find solutions that are environmentally friendly and can produce electricity at more competitive prices," he said.

Miller pointed out that offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea possess a huge amount of untapped potential. "In a sense, it's a race to see who can be first to get their wind turbines up and then charge a better price."

Kalev Kallemets, head of Fermi Energia, which is currently in the process of developing a potential nuclear power plant in Estonia, wrote on social media that wind turbines currently produce between two and seven percent of the electricity in Finland and the Baltic countries.

Kallemets added, that Miller's recommendation to build offshore wind farms, there is currently no wind offshore. The Fermi Energia chief also said that as the skies are cloudy the solar energy factor is low.

Kallemets went on to point out that currently prices are being set by the Narva oil shale plants, which are both the most expensive highest C02-emitting generators on the market. He said that this is likely to continue to be the case on windless days this fall, with prices remaining at around €200 per megawatt-hour (MWh).

"In a few months, the universal service will probably become attractive for customers again," Kallemets said.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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