Day-ahead electricity prices in continental Europe recorded a fifth consecutive monthly decline in March as surging German solar and wind output helped chase prices lower in neighboring countries, according to data released by Platts.
The Platts Continental Power Index fell 8.4% in March to EUR 35.06/MWh, compared to the February level of EUR 38.28/MWh. The index is down more than 39% since peaking at EUR 50.50/MWh in of November last year.
‘A mid-March surge in German wind output followed seven days of peak solar output, which rose above 20 GW to a new monthly record of 23 GW on March 20,’ says Andreas Franke, Platts managing editor for European power and gas.
German wind and solar output for the first three months of 2014 was 22.7 TWh, a gain of 40% or 6.5 TWh compared with a year earlier, according to Platts PowerVision data.
Wind turbines generated almost 17 TWh of electricity in the first quarter, up 31% from the first quarter of 2013, while solar panels generated 5.7 TWh, 74% more than a year earlier.
Solar output in particular reached a number of seasonal records despite a sharp slowdown in new additions, as March 2014 was the third-sunniest March since records began in 1951 with 185 sunshine hours, according to the Germany-based DWD weather service.
Solar output peaked above 20 GW for seven consecutive days between March 7-14 – rising to almost 23 GW for the first time during the winter season on March 20 – Platts reports. Installed wind and solar capacity has risen by just over 10% over the past year as Germany's combined wind and solar portfolio is now standing above 70 GW, making wind and solar Germany's largest sources of power, when measured by installed capacity.
Outside of Germany's immediate influence, near-term power prices in the U.K. and Italy declined as natural gas prices weakened, aided by falling coal and CO2 prices, Platts says.