France had total net exports of 39.4 terawatt-hours (TWh) during the period from 1 January to 30 November


Germany was the second biggest market for France’s exports between January and November (Credit: Pxhere)

Large volumes of nuclear generation in France made the country Europe’s biggest exporter of electricity in the first 11 months of the year, according to new research.

The report on the European interconnector market from UK-based energy data analyst EnAppSys shows France had total net exports of 39.4 terawatt-hours (TWh) during the period from 1 January to 30 November.

It attributed the high net export level to large volumes of nuclear generation in France, with the low marginal costs associated with this type of power source making it attractive for the whole European market.

Jean-Paul Harreman, director of EnAppSys BV, the analyst’s European subsidiary, said there is “no doubt” that interconnectors are becoming “increasingly vital” to Europe’s electricity market.

“By using an interconnector, a country that generates more energy than required for its own use can sell its surplus energy to neighbouring markets,” he added.

“At the same time, markets purchasing electricity also profit due to lower purchasing costs relative to production costs within their own market.”


Which countries export and import the most electricity alongside France?

The report suggests Germany was Europe’s second-largest net exporter and was the second biggest market for France’s exports during the period, with net outward flows of 25.4TWh.

Most of Germany’s exports went to Poland (8.6TWh), which is keen to reduce its heavy reliance on coal-fired power and source cleaner energy from outside the country.

But the report states that, when net exports as a percentage of demand were taken into consideration, the figures for France and Germany were relatively low at 9.3% and 5.7% respectively.

Sweden (31.1%) and Slovenia (21.4%) had the biggest net exports as a proportion of demand during the period, even though in the latter’s case the net outflow volume was relatively low at 2.6TWh.

Italy imported the largest volume of electricity up until the end of November, with 36.6TWh coming from outside the country.

EnAppSys says most of its energy came from Switzerland (17.6TWh), which is still growing its renewables output while continuing to rely on nuclear as its primary source of power.

A table to show the report’s net importers and exporters in Europe (Credit: EnAppSys)

The second biggest net importer was the UK at 19.7TWh, which before 2004 was a net exporter of power for more than 25 years.

Lithuania saw the biggest net inflows as a proportion of demand (75.3%), while net imports accounted for 56% of demand in Denmark.


Why are interconnectors important in climate change?

Key energy and climate change policies in Europe have increased the importance of the interconnector market in recent years, according to the report.

It says to achieve emissions reduction targets, the European Council has called on EU countries to ensure that interconnection makes up “at least” 10% of their installed electricity production capacity by 2020.

Harreman believes the use of interconnectors may improve the efficiency of Europe’s electricity system.

“This increased efficiency has a range of additional benefits,” he added.

“Interconnectors increase the security of supply since additional capacity is available from neighbouring countries, the risk of electricity blackouts subsides.

“They also contribute to the creation of an efficient integrated renewables system in Europe.

“If a market generates surplus energy due to renewables, it can be transferred to another country which also reduces demand for new power plants.

“In addition, interconnectors can generate better prices for the European end-user by making use of complementarities that exist across European countries.”