COVID-19 impacts: Surge in negative pricing

As a consequence of COVID-19 and its effect on energy demand, wind now represents a more substantial proportion of Great Britain’s (GB) energy mix. At the same time, CCGT plant is having to respond to lower load factors. This has resulted in not only record low wholesale prices but a surge in negative pricing events.

The latest research from Cornwall Insight, up to 17 April 2020, shows the number of negative day-ahead hourly wholesale prices reached 13 in 2020. Of which 69% occurred in April. In 2019, there was only one negative day-ahead occurrence recorded in December (the first-ever recorded).

On top of this, the lowest ever day-ahead hourly price was observed on 5 April at -£19.00/MWh. The average negative day-ahead hourly price in 2020 so far stands at -£4.42/MWh.

Text Box: Source: Cornwall Insight

Tim Dixon Wholesale Team Lead at Cornwall Insight said:

“As with day-ahead hourly auction prices, there has been a rise in negatively priced periods on the within-day wholesale market. This is due to a greater sensitivity to short-term market drivers. The average negative Market Index Price in 2020 has been -£12.09/MWh, the lowest of which was -£36.91/MWh on 5 April 2020.

“A rising number of negative pricing events across wholesale markets and imbalance prices has been expected due to the growing penetration of intermittent, subsidised, renewables plant on the system. However, the recent shock to demand amid the COVID-19 outbreak has perhaps brought us forward to what we might have expected to observe in the future when renewables make up a greater proportion of generation.

“We may see fewer negative priced periods as we head deeper into the summer months due to the eventual easing of social distancing measures and the lower expected wind output compared to spring. However, GB may face longer-term demand impacts due to an economic downturn as a result of COVID-19, which could impact next winters prices.”