COVID-19 impacts: gas and power prices over the summer months

As Great Britain (GB) is starting to move through the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been some indications that the energy market could be passing its trough.

Tim Dixon, Wholesale Team Lead at Cornwall Insight, looks into how GB gas & power prices may shape up over the summer months, considering whether the COVID-19 recovery could spark a lift for the markets not typically seen at this time of year.

National Balancing Point (NBP) Gas

Gas & power prices graph

“Gas consumption heading into the summer is considerably lower than the levels typically observed in April/May. The impact of lockdown measures and one of the warmest Aprils on record have contributed to low levels of gas demand on the National Transmission System (NTS).

“Looking ahead to the summer, demand on the NTS – which is already 10% lower than typical levels for the time of the year – is currently forecast to fall even further, with demand potentially breaching the 122mcm consumption level seen in August last year.

“Gas storage in the UK is well-stocked at a five-year high for this time of year. With the continued arrival of LNG tankers to GB terminals, the gap between gas supply and demand in the country continues to widen.

“These factors point towards a continual decline in GB gas prices emerging from the spring, with the already low day-ahead contract likely to extend losses further into the summer.”


Gas and power prices graph two

“The GB power market is dominated by the gulf in demand left by the COVID-19 lockdown. This has seen the average demand for the working week fall approximately 20% over April.

“Although the weather has a bigger influence on demand for gas, increasing levels of embedded solar generation connected at the distribution level reduce transmission system demand. The ramp-up in solar PV production, especially with a sunny April, has increased this trend.

“The impact of solar PV and daylight hours will continue to weigh on transmission demand over summer months, but the gradual ease of lockdown should be an offsetting factor.

“However, a recovery to “pre COVID-19” demand levels is highly unlikely. Experts are no longer predicting a swift return to commercial/industrial activity levels seen before lockdown, and this will take its toll on demand. As a result, a surge in GB gas and power demand and prices is unlikely to be seen in the summer.”