Europe Power: Curve rallies on nuclear, gas, coal, drought

Wind power stations of German utility RWE, one of Europe's biggest electricity companies are pictured in front of RWE's brown coal fired power plants of Neurath near Jackerath, north-west of Cologne, Germany, March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

FRANKFURT, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Many European power forwards hit contract highs on Tuesday afternoon after a short-term nuclear outage compounded underlying fears of shortages of nuclear power, gas and coal in winter, while dry weather kept curtailing output at power plants relying on cooling water.

German baseload for 2023 delivery stood at 505 euros ($511.36) a megawatt hour (MWh), up 5.9% at 1200 GMT, 2 euros below an earlier contract record, amid a raft of contract highs..

These included the German 2024 and 2025 annual contracts, monthly positions for October, November and December delivery, and that for delivery in the first quarter 2023.,,.

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The French year-ahead position was untraded after closing last at a contract high of 612 euros, while French September, October and fourth quarter contracts hit records in low volume.

"A number of factors are adding up: The market is uncertain about whether (French utility) EDF will increase nuclear availability enough for winter, which explains the price differences between the two countries," said Fabian Ronningen of analysts Rystad Energy.

"There's also the drought that is impacting the hydropower situation across Europe," he added.

EDF took its 1.3 gigawatt (GW) Paluel 4 nuclear plant offline because of a turbine fault, which might be put right by Wednesday, but every unexpected reactor closure adds to nervousness.

Whereas France normally operates two thirds of its nuclear fleet, the level has dropped to 46.4%.

Also, coal for north European delivery in 2023 was up 13.7% at $290 a tonne, only two dollars shy of an all-time high.

Spot power surged on the drought and low wind although German weather office DWD has forecast some rain on Wednesday and Thursday.

Daily supply from German turbines has been well below 5 gigawatts (GW) this week, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

German Wednesday baseload was up 12.9% at 548 euros/MWh, seven euros below an earlier intraday all-time high.

The equivalent French contract jumped 11.9% at 552 euros.

Germany signed a memorandum of understanding to safeguard supply for two floating liquefied natural (LNG) gas terminals due to help reduce reliance on Russia. read more

Germany's gas consumption fell 15% in the first half of 2022, industry group BDEW said, citing high prices, energy savings and a slowing economy. read more

($1 = 0.9876 euros)

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Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Tomasz Janowski

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