Power prices reached record highs in 2022, with average day-ahead electricity prices 70% higher than in 2021, according to EnAppSys.
This was driven by the unprecedented increases in the gas prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, along with the ongoing problems with France’s nuclear fleet and distortions in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline flow.
“France took its largest net volume of imports from GB last year (10TWh) due to stress corrosion cracking which significantly reduced output from these nuclear power stations. Generally, GB held a net export position in 2022, exporting 4.2TWh of power to continental Europe and Ireland,” explained Paul Verrill, director of EnAppSys.
“As a consequence of high fuel prices, day-ahead electricity prices jumped by 72.5% last year (against already record high prices in the previous year) in the on-peak and off-peak settlement periods. System balancing prices saw record high averages and peaked at a record £4,035.98/MWh on 24 January.”
Britain ended up exporting significantly more power to the continent through interconnectors as a result of France’s drop in capacity, and Britain’s relatively strong LNG access.
This led a “golden period for CCGTs” noted EnAppSys, with spark spreads increasing dramatically during 2022. Indeed this dynamic led to Britain becoming a net exporter of electricity during Q2, Q3 and Q4.
“During Q2 2022, there were occasional intervals of excess gas supply during which GB gas prices fell to low levels. These occurred in May and June during days of low electricity demand, coupled with high wind generation whilst LNG imports into GB continued, falling as low as 13p/therm on 9 June compared with a high of 610p/therm on 7 March. LNG imports into GB have been at high levels since the war commenced, coupled with increased exports of gas from GB into mainland Europe and Ireland,” continued Verrill.
“As we head into 2023, prices do seem to be falling from the record highs but still remain higher than the period prior to the pandemic.”
Gas accounted for the majority of generation over the last year, with an output of 111.7TWh or 40.4% of the generation mix.
Renewables meanwhile accounted for 43.4%, although EnAppSys noted that this falls to 34.6% if dispatchable biomass is removed. Overall wind accounted for 28.1%, nuclear 16.3%, biomass 8.8%, solar 4.5% and coal 1.6%, while imports made up -1.5%.
2022 saw the highest renewable output over the last decade at 119.5TWh, primarily thanks to high wind levels.
Wind output was 77.6TWh, a 15.2TWh increase on 2021 levels and the largest uplift in wind generation in Britain over the last decade.
This strong generation record has continued into 2023, with a new record set on 10 January when wind generated over 21.62GW.