Mild March keeps energy consumption down
Also in March the mild temperatures were the substantial factor influencing domestic energy consumption, besides the effects owing to the corona measures. In calendar week 13 the consumption averaged 1,135 GWh, which is seven percent less than the average of the years 2017-2019.
Renewables slightly lagging behind
After a short period between late January and early February, the energy production from renewables in slightly lagging behind that of the reference period in 2020. Especially the run-of-the-river production is currently still weaker than last year’s – this is mainly due to the fact that the big snowmelt has not started yet because of this year’s cooler temperatures. Nevertheless, in calendar week 13 approximately 70 percent of the average consumption in Austria could be covered with green electricity.
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Electricity price in Austria: monthly average in comparison to last year
A clear increase can be observed in the development of the monthly electricity price in March. While the average monthly price in March 2020 was 24.6 Euros per MWh, it was 53.7 Euros per MWh in 2021. This is an increase by 118 percent. Among other things the reason for this rise is that currently the energy production from renewables is a little bit weaker than last year’s. The production from wind power ranges approximately 20 percent below last year’s level. Thus electricity also has to be produced conventionally to cover the domestic demand. The current market prices for fossil fuels as well as CO2 emission certificates are quite high, which further drives up the price.
Development of the electricity price in Austria: weekly spot prices in comparison with last year
Similarly to the monthly average, an increase can also be observed regarding the weekly development of the electricity price. In calendar week 13 the price climbed from 18.21 Euros per MWh (2020) to 55.5 Euros per MWh (2021). The currently slightly lower energy production from renewables makes more conventional and thus more expensive production necessary – e.g. gas and coal.
Grid expansion & renovation will reduce energy costs in the long-term and secure power supply
Power transmission lines can become overloaded for many different reasons. This is when APG takes action: Austria’s TSO has power stations under contract which can alter their projected output if necessary. This means: they can boost or throttle their performance to avoid supply shortfalls or overloads. This cost-intensive intervention is called “redispatch measures” (RD).
The most cost-efficient and at the same time most sustainable solution to avoid supply shortfalls or capacity overloads is the expansion and enhancement of the grid infrastructure: therefore APG will invest a total of 3.1 billion Euros over the next ten years alone.
Redispatch costs for APG: year-on-year comparison 2011-2021
A strong transmission grid with sufficient capacities would reduce the need for redispatch measures and related costs considerably. However, all over Austria transmission lines are still lacking or under construction – e.g. Salzburg line (cf. APG network development plan) – which, in 2020, has generated monthly costs of approximately 11 million euros for customers.
Redispatch costs 2017-2020 regarding the reference period March
In 2020 there was less need for constriction management (CM). On the one hand, this was due to the corona-related lower consumption, and, on the other hand, to the favorable conditions in the power supply industry. End of March 2021 the costs for necessary redispatch measures totaled approx. 20 million euros. This is almost 5 million euros less than in last year’s reference period.
Structure of RD measures in 2020 to date
Electric power generation from wind or solar energy is difficult to forecast, while the generation of a thermal power station (e.g. a gas-fuelled power plant) can be controlled with the utmost precision. Besides the hydroelectric storage power plants in Western Austria, the thermal power plants in Austria’s East are indispensable to avoid supply shortfalls or capacity overloads because they can be used for RD measures.
To date approximately 77 percent of the RD measures in 2021 have been executed with thermal power stations. However, their availability is jeopardized due to the currently low market prices. Therefore APG is developing new digital products and services to complement RD measures, which are supposed to facilitate more flexibility and thus a better security of supply in the future.
Days with redispatch in the reference period March
By now, APG has to resort to emergency redispatch (RD) measures almost daily to ensure a functioning electricity supply also when it gets tight. In 2020 alone APG had to intervene on 261 days to balance fluctuations in the grid. In 2021 an intervention was necessary already on 66 days. Climatic circumstances and the introduction of the electricity price zone between AUT and GER at the end of October 2018 have cushioned the RD increase to a certain extent. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: the energy transition is progressing, grid expansion is lagging behind, and redispatch measures remain indispensable.
Redispatch requests March 2021
To ensure the security of supply in Austria APG has to resort to redispatch measures almost daily. The use of thermal and hydraulic power plants makes it possible to respond to fluctuations in the grid. By switching these power plants on or off power can be fed in or removed from the APG grid in a controlled way.
APG Grid: strong backbone of the energy supply in Austria
Each of Austria’s provinces has its own power plants and distribution grid. However, energy production and consumption within a province do not necessarily match at all times. The APG grid is the strong backbone of the energy supply in Austria. It balances differences in the grids of the provinces by compensating deficits or transporting surplus electricity to other provinces. Especially the industrial province Styria with its high import rate (416.1 GWh) and Burgenland with its strength in renewables and its export rate (129.1 GWh) illustrate the importance of a strong grid infrastructure.