Renewable generator revenues fall due to COVID-19 lockdown

Research from Cornwall Insight’s Green Power Forecast reveals there has been a sharp decline in generator revenues. Solar and wind technologies have been particularly impacted by low demand levels due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Solar PV captured prices were, on average, 8.4% and 14.9% below baseload levels in March and April, respectively. For wind, prices were 8.2% and 15.5% below baseload levels on average.

The below graph highlights the daily captured prices achieved by different technologies in March and April 2020, as measured using half-hourly Market Index Price (MIP) data. We show a rolling five-day average to avoid the volatility observed day-to-day.

Captured generator revenues

Tim Dixon, Wholesale Team Lead at Cornwall Insight, said:

“Generators have experienced significantly reduced revenues during the COVID-19 outbreak, as a result of a significant decline in wholesale prices. Solar and wind technologies, in particular, have seen these impacts exacerbated as price cannibalisation worsens amid low demand levels.

“Captured wholesale prices for solar PV and wind have been the lowest of all observed technologies. In April, average captured prices were £19.6/MWh and £19.5/MWh for solar and wind respectively, with already depressed wholesale prices being exacerbated by price cannibalisation impacts.

“Generators exposed to wholesale revenues will be feeling varying degrees of impact from the lower wholesale prices depending on how they have hedged and traded their power.

“The Green Power Forecast survey highlighted that some generators – typically embedded renewables – were able to lock in fixed price Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for the current year (2020-21) at more healthy prices. Some generators were able to achieve over £50/MWh if agreed before November 2019.

“However, those who waited to fix closer to April or have opted to index revenues to day-ahead hourly auction prices, have seen wholesale revenues fall closer to those observed in the above figure.

“While on the surface this might seem to impact all generators, many will not be receiving revenues in line with these figures. Ultimately, revenues earned will depend on the hedging and trading strategies of each plant. 

“The variation in outcomes here highlights the need for many generators, and their PPA offtakers, to constantly track and reflect wholesale market changes in their contracting and decision-making process.”