A heatwave in parts of Europe has piled pressure on energy systems as demand for air-conditioning risks driving prices higher and adding to the challenge of building up stocks to protect against any further cuts to Russian gas supplies. Sweltering temperatures have arrived earlier than usual this year, notably in France and Spain, prompting consumers to turn on air conditioning despite historically high power prices. Europe, meanwhile, is racing to fill storage ahead of what is normally the peak demand winter season as it fears disruptions to the 40% of Europe's gas supplied by Russia, which has already cut off some customers.
Spanish power plants bought more natural gas to generate electricity on Wednesday than on any other day since records began, transmission system operator Enagas said on Thursday. Extreme early summer heat is raising demand for electric air conditioning just as cheaper, renewable sources of power are contributing less to the system, meaning more expensive gas-fired plants are making up the shortfall. Europe's benchmark gas price, which influences the cost of power, has risen 400% over the past year.
Spanish and Portugese officials called on Thursday for Europe to cooperate more closely on managing energy supplies after major producer Russia's invasion of Ukraine heightened fears of disruptions. Unlike many of the countries on the continent, which in total relies on Russia for 40% of its gas, neither country on the Iberian peninsula counts Russia among its main providers. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday that the Portuguese deep-water port of Sines - the closest European port to the United States, "has the infrastructure to host and export natural gas to Europe".