INTERACTIVE: Virus exacerbates Easter power demand slump across Europe

Author: Chetan Patel

2020/04/21

LONDON (ICIS)--European countries continued to experience a drop in power demand over the past two weeks as industrial and commercial closures remained in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

An interactive graphic built by ICIS demonstrated that almost all European countries examined had now succumbed to a demand drop of more than 10% in both weeks 15 and 16 relative to the five-year average for April.

Most western European countries continued to see a similar drop in demand post the Easter holiday period compared with the week prior, except for Germany and Spain.

Relatively less-strict lockdown measures helped buoy power demand in Germany for most of late March through the beginning of April. The fall in power demand gathered pace in weeks 15 and 16, however.

In Spain, the fall in demand eased as the Spanish government lifted some lockdown measures helping some factories to restart. In the renewable sector, manufacturing factories that were previously closed have begun reopening, including factories operated by Siemens Gamesa and Vestas.

The data did not account for the fact that in several of the past five years, the Easter period did not fall in these weeks, although it is worth nothing that the average demand over April to date still tracks significantly lower than that of the last five-year average. The data also did not consider temperature fluctuations in different years.

In the remaining key demand centres – France, UK and Italy, the demand fall showed signs of hitting a floor, as a previousl analysis by ICIS indicated.

The UK government extended its nationwide lockdown by three weeks on 16 April, which should keep demand around 20% below average for the remainder of the month. Data from National Grid showed that demand fell the greatest in the southern and London local distribution systems.

CEE, SEE DEMAND DROP GATHERS PACE

In the centraleastern and southeastern European regions, the demand drop after the Easter period picked up after being initially supported by colder weather in week 14.

Alexandru Budirinca, technical solutions manager at TESLA Inc suggested that demand could fall further in the post-Easter period with governments tightening lockdown measures in some countries.

Budirinca highlighted that relaxing lockdown restrictions in Czech Republic has not led to a recovery in demand, while an extension of the lockdown in Romania by another month could further dampen demand.

OUTLOOK

While some of the major European economies, are showing signs of relaxing lockdown restrictions, other countries are only now tightening measures.

This is likely to lead to a continued drop across Europe, although some countries have shown to hit a potential demand drop floor.

That said, the gloomy economic outlook should be a key driver for a sustained drop in demand over the next few months as a staggered return to normality takes place across Europe.

Commercial offtake is unlikely to return to pre-virus levels immediately due to financial weakness.

Additional reporting by Roy Manuell