Freezing Spring Weather in Europe to Boost Heating Demand

Don’t pack away the winter coat just yet.

(Bloomberg) — Don’t pack away the winter coat just yet. 

Europe’s spring is starting on a chilly note with temperatures below normal for much of the continent. That’s after the second-warmest winter on record helped to ease the pressure on the region’s energy system. 

In the north in particular, spring will “come in slower so heating demand could drag a bit longer and be above normal,” said Andrew Pedrini, a meteorologist at forecaster Atmospheric G2. 

That could keep energy prices higher than normal, even though the worst threats to supplies have faded. The European Union is entering the season with gas stores at the fullest for the time of year in more than a decade, although France’s sluggish nuclear output is still a cause of concern for traders. 

Scandinavia has seen heavy snowfall in the last few days, with Stockholm and Oslo covered by a thick layer. Warnings have been issued for more in the coming days.

“The cold temperatures for this time of year are pushing up energy consumption above average,” Swedish utility Bixia AB said in a report. 

Mild No Longer

The frigid weather of the past week is a stark change from the previous mild months. Only the winter of 2019-2020 was warmer, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service. That helped Europe avoid rolling blackouts that some governments warned about last year, after Russia cut gas supplies to the region in the fallout of its war in Ukraine.

However, officials say the energy squeeze might not be over just yet, as the region seeks to replenish stockpiles without much support from Russia, its former top supplier. And a cold beginning to the spring means much of Europe isn’t getting a head start.

The mercury will fall as low as -13C (8.6F) in Stockholm on Tuesday, according to national weather forecaster SMHI. The following week will also see a chill in the Nordics.

Germany’s national forecaster DWD expects colder-than-normal weather across the country in early April, with snow possible at times. Berlin will be 5.7C below normal on Monday, while Rome is set to be 5C colder than usual on Tuesday, according to Maxar Technologies Inc.

In the UK, “temperatures are uncertain, but there is a potential for cooler conditions at times, especially in the north and east, with a chance of overnight frosts,” the Met Office said in its outlook for the second half of April. 

Wind to Drop

Wind power output in much of the region is set to plunge to a minimum next week, according to a Bloomberg model. That could send power prices higher due to greater reliance on traditional fuels for heating.

Forecasts show an increase in solar power generation in northern Europe, which could provide some relief. Southeast Europe is set to see a drop in solar.  

Meanwhile, Europe continues to face the risk of dry spells, following the region’s worst drought in centuries last year and prolonged periods without rain over the winter.  

“Slightly below normal precipitation amounts are forecast across northern and central mainland Europe in April, which will give little relief to low hydro and river levels here,” said Amy Hodgson, a meteorologist at Atmospheric G2. 

(Updates with Rome forecast in 10th paragraph.)

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