Electricity and fuel markets have experienced sharp fluctuations during the autumn and early winter

In the electricity market, products showed a strong upward trend at the end of September when the weather turned dry. Likewise, the price of coal took a clear upward turn when coal production in China decreased on account of output restrictions. This was reflected in the global coal market as a sharp rise in the price of coal in Europe, too. In Europe, demand for coal contributed to an increase in the usability situation of nuclear power plants, which was substantially weaker than usual. In the electricity market, products rose sharply right until the end of October, but subsequently the weather turned wetter and milder. In addition, the price of coal dipped when China had to remove production restrictions owing to the scarcity of the coal market. By the beginning of December, the rise in prices in the electricity market seen during the autumn and early winter was thus negated and prices returned to the levels of the summer.

In the oil market, the price of oil has fluctuated sharply and has now risen to well over 50 dollars a barrel since the major oil producers have agreed on substantial production cuts as from next year. Concerns about oversupply in the oil market will recede with the cutbacks and the market will be expected to regain balance. There is still uncertainty, however, as to whether the major producers will keep to the promised production levels – this will not really be seen until early next year.

In the emissions market, prices have also fluctuated considerably, and recently the price of emissions allowances has risen. The emissions market has backed the Environment Committee´s proposal regarding measures to substantially tighten the emissions market. However, the proposed measures may not necessarily receive broader support but, if the proposals progress to tripartite discussions, a clear increase in prices may be seen in the future, too.

In the electricity market it will be interesting to monitor in the short term whether the period of severe frost at the beginning of this year will be seen in the winter ahead, too. If there is a cold snap, spot prices may rise to very high levels. The demand/supply situation may then become very tight, and therefore it is to be hoped, especially in Finland, that there will not be any significant faults in transmission connections or in production plants. During a cold snap, every electricity consumer should remember to consider their own electricity consumption – for example, during a period of greater demand they should consider whether they need to use the home´s energy guzzler, i.e. an electric sauna stove, at that particular time. At worst, it may be unpleasant to try to take a sauna in a half-warm, dark sauna.