Koshy Thomas

France becomes top net power exporter in Europe

August 2023

France overtook Sweden to be the biggest net exporter of power in Europe, while Germany moved from exporter to importer during the first half of this year.


The report describes the value of imports and exports in Europe during the first six months of 2023. It found that France’s total net exports amounted to 17.6TWh, with most of the power flowing to Great Britain (8TWh) and Italy (9TWh).


Jean-Paul Harreman, director of EnAppSys BV, said: “The cause for the increase of exports in France versus the previous year was an increased availability of the country’s nuclear assets. Although availability is still 10-15% lower than normal, the increase in capacity of between 5 and 10 GW versus last year helped to flip the French energy balance to export again.


“As cheaper generation became available to the French market, it started exporting to GB again. The price differential ensured that cheaper power flowed from France to Britain.


“Meanwhile, Sweden’s exports remained stable compared to the second half of last year.


Sweden was the second highest net exporter of power in the first half of this year, sending a net 14.6TWh of power to other countries, while Spain overtook Germany to be the third highest net exporter with total net exports of 8.8TWh.


Jean-Paul Harreman said: “Spain still profits from a lower gas price for power generation and massive renewable generation. A massive solar capacity increase in Spain drove higher exports.”


“Meanwhile, in Germany, the closure of nuclear power plants was the main reason why the energy balance flipped from export in the first quarter to import in the second quarter. These closures meant that Germany sourced additional power from other countries in periods of low renewable generation, as other markets provided power at lower prices than unused generation assets in Germany.


Note that imports and exports are the result of market coupling among European electricity markets, with cross-border connections limiting the amount of power that can flow from one country to another. The objective is to optimize welfare across the continent. Except for borders that are not automatically coupled, parties acting on day-ahead markets do not actively choose to import or export.”


When net exports as a percentage of demand was taken into consideration, Bosnia overtook Bulgaria as the country with the highest percentage of its power generation exported (44.8%).


Gabor Szatmari, territory manager of central and eastern Europe (CEE) at EnAppSys, said: “Bulgarian exports declined because the country’s lignite production got priced out of the merit order by broader European gas production, due to falling gas prices in Europe since August 2022. In the case of Bosnia, the total hydro production doubled from H2 2022 to H1 2023 and around 87% of that additional production was exported to other countries.”


Italy remained the biggest net importer during the first six months of 2023, sourcing 25.9TWh from outside the country, of which 9.9TWh came through Switzerland and 9.5TWh through France.