France has boosted electricity exports by 500% during the first quarter of 2024 from the same period in 2023, and is forecast to lift net electricity exports to a new record for the full year, according to data from Energy Charts and LSEG.

As Europe's largest net exporter of electricity and one of the largest European clean power producers, France is a crucial supplier of low-carbon electricity throughout the continent.

In 2023, France's electricity flows to key economies such as Germany and Italy helped offset domestic power generation reductions in those countries caused by shortages of natural gas since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

In 2024, France's higher export flows will add to the growing electricity supplies expected to be generated throughout the rest of Europe, and could help spur a recovery in regional business activity by further reducing regional power prices.

Wholesale power costs around western Europe during the first quarter of 2024 were roughly 30% lower than during the same period in 2023, and the lowest since mid-2021, data from LSEG shows.



Fuelling the climb in French electricity exports has been a steady rise in France's domestic power generation.

Nuclear power output - which accounts for around 65% of total electricity generation in France - has climbed by 11.6% during the first quarter of 2024 from the same period in 2023 to the highest since early 2021, data from LSEG shows.

Output increases have also emerged from wind, solar and natural gas sites to help lift total electricity output by 11% during the first quarter from Q1 2023.

This higher level of power generation has in turn spurred a sharp climb in electricity exports.

Total electricity exports from France during the first three months of 2024 was 19,684 gigawatt hours (GWh), according to Energy Charts, a website that tracks regional electricity generation and trade flows.

That total compares to just 3,292 GWh of exports during the same period in 2023, when France's power producers grappled with below-normal nuclear power output due to maintenance work on key reactors and protracted energy sector labour negotiations.

For 2024 as a whole, LSEG forecasts total France electricity net trade to amount to 133.6 TWh, up from 58.5 TWh in 2023.



France's aggressive rise in electricity exports has served to squeeze out supplies from rival exporters in the region.

After France's 50.3 terawatt hours (TWh) of full year exports in 2023, the next largest European electricity exporters were Sweden (28.5 TWh), Norway (19.9 TWh), Spain (11.8 TWh), Czechia (9.2 TWh) and the Netherlands (5.6 TWh), Energy Charts data shows.

So far in 2024, only the Netherlands has managed a year-on-year increase in export volumes, which are up by just under 6%.

Combined exports from Norway, Sweden, Spain and Czechia were down 23% during the first quarter from the same period in 2023, highlighting the impact of France's export surge on regional flows.

However, total electricity generation during the first quarter was above year-ago levels in Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, data from Ember shows.

That suggests those countries have the potential to raise export flows, but have likely been dissuaded from doing so by the aggressive volumes shipped by France and the decline in power prices across Europe.

Total electricity generation in Czechia and Spain was down 7.5% and 3.9% respectively during the first quarter from the same period in 2023, but is expected to increase over the coming months from solar sites during the northern hemisphere summer.

As that additional power flows through local grids, utilities may be forced to lift exports as a means of dispersing surplus electricity and averting additional local power price declines.

But if that surplus power hits export markets alongside the projected volumes shipped from France and elsewhere, regional power prices will likely come under fresh pressure.

That could be a boon for businesses and other large energy consumers across Europe following the recent stretch of economic weakness that has curbed spending and investment.


(Reporting by Gavin Maguire; Editing by Sonali Paul)