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Sweden overtakes France as Europe’s biggest net power exporter

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Sweden was the biggest net exporter of power in Europe during the first half of 2022, overtaking France, according to a new report from EnAppSys.

France has long been a major exporter of power in the European market, with a fleet of nuclear power stations generating a stable surplus of electricity. However, that’s beginning to change, with France shifting from a net exporter earlier in the year to a net importer. 

This fall from grace for France has, ironically, been blamed on its nuclear power station fleet, which is beginning to show signs of age and unreliability. In fact, the country has found several structural problems at its nuclear power stations, which means it’s had to plug a significant gap in its electricity supply with power generated elsewhere. 

With France unlikely to be able to fix its nuclear fleet anytime soon, it’s also unlikely to make it to the top of the net power exporter list anytime soon either. Instead, the top honour goes to Sweden, which exported a total of 16 TWh during the first half of 2022. Most of that power, 7 TWh and 4 TWh, went to neighbours Finland and Denmark, respectively. 

However, the real story for the European power export market is that Germany – a country commonly criticised for its energy policies due to an overreliance on Russian gas – was Europe’s second largest exporter in the first half of 2022. It exported 15.4 TWh, with France taking the lion’s share.

The UK also noticeably saw a change in its fortunes in the first half of 2022, with the country going from a reliable importer of electricity to a net exporter position, with power largely flowing back to France. However, the UK still ended the six month period as having imported 1.5% more power than exported. 

Jean-Paul Harreman, Director of EnAppSys BV, which published the report, noted, “In the first half of the year, the GB electricity market was notable for interconnector flows flipping from a net import position to a net export position. France was by far the largest consumer due to the longstanding issues with its nuclear fleet – a situation that shows no signs of improving any time soon.

“France’s nuclear issues have resulted in an exceptional net-import position for the French market. This has been exacerbated by high gas prices, which has made it less financially attractive for France to export usual amounts of gas into Europe. This in turn has pushed gas assets out of merit across Europe.

“In addition to France, Norway also saw significant changes in its interconnector flows during the first half of this year. Historically a net exporter due to its high levels of renewable hydro generation, Norway has suffered a prolonged drought which has reduced water reservoir levels and thereby limited its renewable generation. If this situation continues, this could have a significant negative impact on Britain. Recent data from Norway’s Directorate of Water Resources and Energy shows that reservoir levels in the region of Norway from where Britain gets its power fell from the seasonal average of 74.4% to just 49.3%. This is concerning, as Norway is considered to be one of Britain’s most reliable sources of imported power.”

When net exports as a percentage of demand was taken into consideration, Bosnia regained its number one ranking with net exports of 35%, followed by Bulgaria (33%), Sweden (23%) and the Czech Republic (14.8%).

Italy remained the biggest net importer during the first six months of 2022, sourcing 22TWh from outside of the country, of which 9.6TWh came from Switzerland and 6.7TWh from France.

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