European Outlook for Winter Electricity Supply Should Not be at Risk, Although Not Ruled Out

Nov. 29, 2017
ENTSO-E’s analysis suggests that risks can materialize in several countries

ENTSO-E’s Winter Outlook 2017/2018 shows that there should not be any risk to the electricity supply in Europe under normal conditions. However, in the case of cold spells and low generation availability, ENTSO-E’s analysis suggests that risks can materialize in several countries, mainly during the second week of January.

Under severe conditions, margins are expected to be tight in Great Britain, France, Belgium, Poland and Italy. However, the risk of not having enough generation capacity to cover demand is contained in probability. 

Upgraded methodology to cover more critical situations

The ENTSO-E Winter Outlook is a unique pan-European, system-wide, analysis of risks to electricity security of supply. This year’s analysis is more refined than the 2016/2017 edition as lessons were learned from the previous winter. Last winter, Europe’s power system faced tensions due to an unforeseen cold spell, combined with a low availability of nuclear generation in France.

Instead of considering situations that only happen one year out of 10, the Winter Outlook 2017/2018 looks at worst-case situations that could occur in one year out of 20. This allows coverage of more potential risks. ENTSO-E has also analyzed risks associated with extreme climatic conditions taking place simultaneously in all of Europe. 

Focus on hydro and impact of gas on power system security

Winter Outlook has also focused on hydro reservoirs because they also play an important role in electricity security of supply . The hydro reservoir levels in Europe are generally back to historical average, except for Italy and Spain, where the levels are close to the historical minimum values.

The Winter Outlook also includes a sensitivity analysis of the impact of potential gas shortage on the electricity security of supply. ENTSO-E and its equivalent for gas, ENTSO-G, have teamed up and their joint assessment shows that the European electricity system stays robust, even in the event of a high demand situation with a simultaneous interruption of gas transit through Ukraine.

In case of over generation (high variable generation and low demand), there may be some curtailment needed in Ireland and in some bidding zones in Southern Italy. 

Evolution of generation in Europe

As usual, the Winter Outlook analyzes the evolution of the generation fleet, compared to the end of 2016. The decommissioning of dispatchable thermal power plants has been only partly compensated by new inflexible renewable generation, affecting the power system operation and adequacy for the whole ENTSO-E grid.

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