Germany Poised for Solar Record as Hot April Weather Lingers

(Bloomberg) -- Germany is headed for record solar power generation next week as forecasters predicted warm weather for central and eastern Europe and even raised the prospect of heatwaves hitting the southeast region later this month.

While Europe’s renewable energy revolution has fundamentally changed how the power market works, it’s probably most notable at this time of year. German prices slumped below zero on Tuesday as solar and wind output flooded the market at the same time as European factories had ramped down consumption because of a holiday.

“A prominent high is expected to anchor over northern and central Europe from the end of this week, bringing dry and settled weather to large swathes of Europe through the majority of May,” said Katie Greening, a meteorologist at the Weather Company.

Output from photovoltaic panels in Germany could reach as high as 28,318 megawatts on May 7, according to Bloomberg’s weather model. That would beat a peak from last May of 27,796 megawatts. Another sunny spell in mid to late May, not too hot but strong sunshine, could provide new solar peaks, according to Matt Dobson, an energy meteorologist at Meteogroup.

After the hottest April since 1981, six weather forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg all say that central and eastern Europe will be warmer than usual in May. But the west and southwestern fringes -- the U.K. France, Spain and Portugal -- are most likely to be cooler than normal, according to Meteogroup U.K. Ltd.

Germany Poised for Solar Record as Hot April Weather Lingers

Europe’s weather has become more extreme of late, testing energy traders who typically buy power and natural gas in advance. After the coldest winter since 2012, last month’s temperatures were on average as much as 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 Fahrenheit) higher-than-normal in southern Germany, Poland and the Balkans. And April 19 was the warmest day in the month for 70 years.

The cold winter has depleted Europe’s gas stores, sending levels to their lowest for at least a decade, on a percentage basis. They’ve recovered to 25 percent full after bottoming out at 18 percent a month ago, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe, a lobby group.

Efforts to fill up reserves is supporting the region’s prices, according to Marex Spectron Group Ltd. The Dutch front-month gas contract ended April at its highest level this year.

Reserves were “exceptionally low when the recharging phase commenced a couple of weeks ago, and to get back on track sites across Europe will have to be replenished much quicker than usual,” said Giacomo Masato, analyst and meteorologist at Marex Spectron in London. “This is price positive.”

Germany Poised for Solar Record as Hot April Weather Lingers

Some other views:

  • The warmest areas, relative to normal, will be Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States, where temperatures will be an average of 1 degree Celsius higher than usual, according to Rebecca Fuller, a meteorologist at Radiant Solutions
  • France and U.K. will have some “occasional” warm spells too in May, while seasonal heatwaves are predicted for southeast Europe: Meteogroup
  • After a colder-than-usual start there will be a 12-day stretch where temperatures will be above normal for the U.K., France, the Baltic States, south Scandinavia and the Balkans, according to Tyler Roys, meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc.
    • The weather pattern is driven by a high pressure that will be centered between the British Isles and Scandinavia, coupled with a stalled area of low pressure in the central Mediterranean

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