German power exports up by 62 percent
The figures for the first half of 2013 show that Germany exported 15.4 TWh net, with the Netherlands being the biggest buyer ahead of France in second place. Germany imported most of its power from the Czech Republic.
Based on statistics collated by Entso-E, researchers at the FfE research Institute in Munich have calculated that Germany increased its net power exports by 62 percent year over year in the first half of 2013 – and last year was already a record year, with net exports reaching 22.5 TWh.
Over at Fraunhofer ISE, Bruno Burger has yet to update his excellent PDF on the German power sector for the month of June, but his slide 7 shows that the "export surplus" in the first five months was around 19 TWh, an indication that Germany became a net importer in June. Such a reversal would not be completely unexpected. As his slide 19 shows, Germany was a net exporter in the first four months of the year but slipped into the red in the month of May.
The phenomenon is easy to explain. Germany tends to export electricity at times of high demand and import at times of low demand, when prices are lowest. Because Germany has sufficient generating capacity (even after the sudden nuclear shutdown of 2011), power imports and exports are based mainly on price, not on any need to prevent blackouts.
The situation is different in France, which does not have generating capacity sufficient to meet its peak demand and therefore imports at times of high demand, largely from Germany. In return, its nuclear plants do not like to ramp down, so it exports a lot of power at low prices (partly to Germany, but also to Switzerland and Italy) at times of low demand.
The Dutch are becoming strategically reliant on power imports from Germany partly because offset power from gas turbines frees up natural gas, which can then be sold at high prices on European markets. (Craig Morris)