PPA prices spike in Q1 of 2022 as natural gas and electricity prices rise

The war in Ukraine is the latest crisis to rattle Europe’s renewable energy markets, sending power purchase agreement prices up 8.6 per cent to reach €57 per MWh, according to a new report from LevelTen Energy, the leading provider of renewable transaction infrastructure and operator of the world’s largest PPA marketplace.

According to LevelTen’s Q1 PPA Price Index, which analyses hundreds of solar and wind PPA price offers on its Energy Marketplace, European PPA prices have increased 27.5 per cent year-over-year. These prices represent an average of the 25th percentile of PPA prices of each European market on LevelTen’s Energy Marketplace.

“PPA prices are sky-high, reversing years of price declines at a time when procurements need to accelerate dramatically,” said Flemming Sørensen, Vice President of Europe at LevelTen Energy. 

High natural gas prices, fueled by the conflict in Ukraine, are spiking wholesale electricity prices, which have already been rising for months due to the energy crisis that began in Europe last year. In response to volatile energy prices, demand for power purchase agreements is skyrocketing since these long-term renewable energy contracts can be used as effective tools to lock in electricity prices, in addition to their primary benefit: securing renewable energy.

A LevelTen survey of leading sustainability advisory firms revealed that many energy buyers remain committed to their renewable energy goals despite dynamic market conditions, with 55 per cent saying that their clients – utility-scale renewable energy buyers – are sticking to their procurement timelines, and 20 per cent are even accelerating their timelines.  

Yet, voracious buyer appetite for PPAs is creating a rapidly growing imbalance between demand for renewables and supply from developers, who are struggling to build new solar and wind projects fast enough due to supply chain, interconnection, and regulatory challenges. These headwinds are acute in multiple European markets.

In Italy, which has the second-largest share of European PPA offers on LevelTen’s Energy Marketplace (27 per cent), onerous and lengthy permitting processes have made it challenging for developers to build fast enough to keep up with the demand. Italian lawmakers changed environmental review procedures last year in a bid to streamline and speed up the process, but it will take time to see these changes reflected in the market. Italian P25 solar PPA prices have soared more than 23 per cent year-over-year, and currently, sit at €51.50 per MWh.

In Germany, permits for onshore wind projects can take around five years to secure, and there is limited land available for development. Recognising the need to ease regulatory constraints, German lawmakers have taken steps to streamline the permitting process and set aside two per cent of land for wind energy projects. Previous regulatory reforms helped catalyse Germany’s solar industry. German P25 solar PPA prices increased 25 per cent year-over-year and now rest at €60 per MWh.

In Spain, more than 73 GW of solar projects are in the pipeline to be constructed and connected to the grid, but only 18.6 per cent have received environmental and construction authorisation, according to Spanish Solar PV industry group UNEF. Spanish P25 solar prices increased 11.8 per cent year-over-year, and now rest at €38 per MWh.

“We need to use every tool in our toolbox to enable PPAs to get done in order to help Europe shift to renewables faster,” said Sørensen. “We and our network of sustainability advisors are working with buyers and developers on contract innovations to navigate this challenging landscape and still get PPAs done.”   

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