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European power prices jump as extreme cold grips

Prices soar to highest in almost a decade as cold snap strains supplies tightened by power plant outages and worker strikes

The cold is set to push French electricity demand to near record levels this week. Photograph: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

European electricity prices soared to the highest in almost a decade as an abnormal cold snap strained supplies tightened by power plant outages and worker strikes.

German and Belgian power prices for next-day delivery jumped to the highest since 2008, while those for France rose to a six-week high. Temperatures in northwest Europe are forecast to drop to as much as 5 degrees Celsius below the 30-year average this week.

The cold is set to push French electricity demand to near record levels this week, and coincides with low hydro availability after the driest December since 1959 and extended nuclear reactor outages.

Freezing weather had already forced flight cancellations in Frankfurt, triggered blackouts in Switzerland and restricted shipping traffic on ice-choked rivers.

German power for Tuesday rose to €90.50 per megawatt-hour, the highest since November 2008 for day-ahead prices, broker figures show.

Belgian prices climbed to the highest since since May 2008 at €110 per megawatt-hour. German and Czech day-ahead rates settled at the highest since February 2012 at auctions held on Sunday.

Polar air

Polar air from Scandinavia is set to bring ice and permafrost to some areas in Germany on Monday, with temperatures seen falling to minus 20 degrees Celsius in some mountain regions on Tuesday, Germany’s national forecaster Deutscher Wetterdienst has said on its website.

Temperatures in northwestern Europe are forecast to average -0.5 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, 4.25 degrees below temperatures over the past 10 years, The Weather Co figures on Bloomberg show. – Bloomberg