All Time High: How UK Power Prices Jumped to Record Levels


All Time High: How UK Power Prices Jumped to Record Levels

January 22, 2021

This winter has seen record prices for UK power and frequent alerts about supply shortages as the National Grid scrambles to avoid blackouts. All this despite the country still being under the same lockdown with restrictions that caused plunges in demand in spring and summer.

Here at Hartree Solutions, we’ve been following the market’s every move providing insights, analysis and warnings of upcoming supply shortages that ultimately led to some extraordinary prices and volatile swings.

Hartree scenario price forecast. The z-axis represents different fundamental inputs and associated price forecast

The day-ahead price of UK power surged to just under £1,500 on January 12th on the N2EX auction1, which is the highest price ever recorded. This comes against a backdrop of a winter in which the Grid has already been forced to issue six urgent calls for suppliers to provide extra capacity with much of winter still ahead of us.

We have long disagreed with the National Grid’s assumption5 of peak demand falling by 4% this winter and have expressed our concerns that the UK was more vulnerable to blackouts than their modelling suggested. Far from falling, peak winter demand this season first surpassed last year’s level on December 7th before climbing further to reach a fresh high earlier this month.

With the wind now making up a much larger proportion of the UK’s energy supply, at times of low wind the UK is much more vulnerable to periods of tight supply margin, something we have seen played out numerous times already this winter.

Generation by fuel type from National Grid data

In early November, we witnessed National Grid issue two notification of insignificant system margins on consecutive days. Yet even at the peak of this apparent supply crisis with wind contributing the lowest amount of power for 17 days, 12.5% of that wind was curtailed by the system operator. In fact, payments to constrain wind farms in November reached a new record, totalling over £49m and adding up to £220m for the year to date2.

This counterintuitive action is the function of a system that still favours price over carbon when deciding the order in which to acquire power supplies. That’s why we’re calling for the UK to widen its priorities and consider the carbon impacts when balancing the system.

Throughout that unusual period in November, we were providing blow-by-blow analysis of the developing picture (on Twitter), including the switching on of rarely used gas turbines, with our forecasts proving accurate. We also made some interesting observations as the UK entered its second lockdown.  Our granular analysis identified an unexpected 200MW demand bump at 10:27 pm on November 4th as people enjoyed ‘tea and toast’ after returning home from their last evening of freedom!

National Grid Demand Data

The market has already thrown up some wild price imbalances this year with Uniper’s Connahs Quay power station being paid £2,750 /MWh on January 8th, which temporarily set the highest imbalance price ever recorded. However, that record lasted a matter of minutes with EDF’s West Burton gas station being paid a scarcely believable £4,000 /MWh and setting the highest imbalance price ever seen. Yet just a couple of days before that Beatrice, a wind farm, paid £781 /MWh to turn off its generation.

Maximum monthly half-hour imbalance price. National Grid data

2021 has also seen the decoupling of the UK from European power auctions leaving two separate, independent UK day-ahead hourly auctions post-Brexit. These auctions have seen differences of £500 in their results even though they are just 40 minutes apart. The delta between the two, although not as extreme, has continued throughout January and we have been promoting the reimplementation of a single UK auction post-Brexit to spare consumers having to bear the added costs, risks and inefficiencies of having two unnecessary separate auctions.

Nord Pool N2EX UK1 Auction result and the EpexSpot UK3 Auction results

These extreme power prices have been limited to the UK while neighbouring interconnected markets have shown a limited reaction to the UK’s volatility. While Belgium, France and the Netherlands have been able to enjoy relatively benign prices this winter, the UK’s reliance on interconnector flows has left it more vulnerable to periods of cold weather and low wind generation.

EPEX3 Spot European day-ahead auction results

Gas has also endured a volatile few weeks with huge price spikes as cold snaps in Europe and Asia have coincided with LNG liquefaction facilities around the world being plagued by unplanned or extended outages. This has resulted in Asian utilities battling to buy any cargo they can lay their hands on, seemingly irrespective of price. JKM, Asia’s benchmark LNG contract, surged to its highest on record at $32.50/MMBtu while on the physical market, cargoes have been sold at high $30s.

ICE4 NBP and JKM front-month prices

This is in stark contrast to the situation we had in the summer when JKM was below $5/mmbtu. With Asia willing to pay so much for LNG, Europe has had to rely on storage withdrawals for such an elongated period that the very healthy storage levels at the start of winter are fast disappearing. Last week saw prices across Europe rocket amid fears of storage being almost empty, long before the end of the winter.

With so much volatility in the energy markets, Hartree Solutions’ trading expertise can not only protect your company but ensure you benefit in this unprecedented transition to net-zero. By building, owning and operating low-carbon assets, co-located with your business, we guarantee you cheaper, low carbon power with zero capital investment.

More Market Insights

1 Nord Pool N2EX
2 National Grid Monthly Balancing Services Summary
3 Epex Spot
5 National Grid Winter Outlook

written by
Adam Lewis

More market insights


Kansai Electric Power Group and Hartree Partners sign first term contract in Japan coupling LNG supply with carbon investments. 

Japan, 14th December 2023: Japanese power company, Kansai Electric Power Group (Kansai Group), has signed…

Japan, 14th December 2023: Japanese power company, Kansai Electric Power Group (Kansai Group), has signed a binding term agreement with Hartree Partners for the supply of LNG alongside investment in a nature-based carbon project in Australia, the first deal of its kind in Japan. The deal represents Kansai Group’s long-term commitments to decarbonisation and the provision of low-carbon energy for its customers. 

This LNG supply agreement enables KE Fuel Trading Singapore Pte. Ltd (KEFTS) to grow its LNG portfolio which will support Kansai Group’s LNG supply-demand situation and customers around the globe.  

Also, through its expertise in global carbon markets and its project portfolio in Australia, specifically focused on nature restoration, Vertree Partners, Hartree’s global carbon market arm, will support The Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc. (Kansai Electric) to access future supply of high-integrity carbon credits to support its Zero Carbon Vision.  

Both companies will explore potential opportunities to support Japan’s national net zero targets in areas such as LNG, renewable energy, environmental products and carbon capture and storage (CCS). 

Hartree Partners is a well-established global energy and commodities firm with decades of experience in the physical and financial energy and commodities market. Its wholly-owned subsidiary, Vertree Partners, is focused on decarbonisation and environmental markets.  

“Carbon credits have an important role to play in realising a zero-carbon society,” said Hideaki Ikai, Executive Officer, Operation and Trading Division in Kansai Electric. “Kansai, as a leading company of zero-carbon energy, is proactively studying ways to create a carbon neutral society, and I believe that this collaboration with Hartree Partners will accelerate our activities to achieve the goal of carbon net zero by 2050.” 

Shinichi Kudo, Chief Executive Officer, KEFTS, added “The combination of LNG and carbon credits will give us a promising option to attain our mission to provide our customers with stable energy supply and decarbonization solutions.” 

Ahmed S Al-Awa, Managing Director of Hartree Partners Singapore Pte. Limited and a Partner of Hartree Partners, said “this forward-looking move by Kansai Electric Power Group sends an important signal that carbon markets are likely to become a key component of the natural gas/LNG value chain as the sector moves to decarbonise.” 

Ariel Perez, Managing Partner of Vertree Partners added “We are committed to supporting Kansai Electric Power Group to make credible investment in the carbon market. The market is evolving rapidly, and companies may be increasingly exposed. Investments such as these support future preparedness whilst also directing finance to nature-based solutions, without which we face continued environmental degradation and eco-system loss and increase the risk of missing our global climate goals.” 


About The Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc. 

Kansai Electric Power Group, as a Japan’s leading electric power company, is aiming for carbon neutrality throughout the entirety of its business activities by 2050 to limit global warming, while increasing energy independence to secure energy supply for its customers, Kansai Group can be found at 

About KE Fuel Trading Singapore Pte. Ltd 

KEFTS, a 100% subsidiary of Kansai Electric, was established as an LNG trading arm of Kansai Group in April 2017. KEFTS has been supporting Kasai Electric’s LNG supply-demand balance and providing LNG portfolio for customers around the globe, and now enhances its activity to support Kansai Group’s carbon neutrality at its base in Singapore.

About Hartree Partners  

Hartree Partners, LP is a leading global energy and commodities firm with an international reputation for integrity developed over decades. Our expertise enables us to capitalise on the transition from fossil fuels to a low carbon economy. Hartree’s global breadth and reach provide a competitive presence in a comprehensive range of commodity markets, enriched by the firm’s employees who add deep insight, expertise and innovative thinking. More information concerning Hartree can be found at 


About Vertree Partners 

Vertree Partners enables leading companies and institutions to invest in both nature and innovative climate technologies to assist them in reaching their decarbonisation goals. Founded in 2020, Vertree is focused on driving positive environmental and social impact, and providing its customers access to existing and future supply of high-integrity environmental commodities. It does this through directly financing quality emissions reductions and removals projects; partnering with renowned project developers; investing in innovative organisations and technology-based solutions; and providing its expertise in voluntary and compliance markets, trading, market analytics and risk management. Vertree is wholly owned by Hartree Partners. 


Read Article

AGP Sustainable Real Assets and Hartree Partners Announce US Expansion of Global Solar Partnership

AGP Sustainable Real Assets Pte Ltd (AGP) and Hartree Partners, LP (Hartree) today announce the…

AGP Sustainable Real Assets Pte Ltd (AGP) and Hartree Partners, LP (Hartree) today announce the launch of AMPYR Energy USA, the second joint venture between the two organizations in just over a year.

AMPYR Energy USA will be headquartered in New York and is targeting to build a 5GW utility-scale solar PV platform across multiple US markets. With experienced renewables development professionals on the ground, the newly-created company will continue to leverage AGP’s experience in developing large-scale renewable power projects globally, and Hartree’s cutting-edge power trading analytics and zero-carbon solutions.

“With the Federal and State goals for accelerating the energy transition, the US will be one of the fastest growing solar markets in the world and a core strategic priority in realizing AMPYR’s ambition of becoming one of the largest independent renewables developer and operator globally,” said Saurabh Beniwal, Partner at AGP and Board Chair for AMPYR USA.

Since its inception in February 2021, Hartree and AGP’s European solar venture, AMPYR Solar Europe (ASE), is making swift progress towards its goal of rolling out 5GW of large-scale solar projects to establish itself as one of the largest utility scale solar platforms in Europe. ASE also recently closed a €400 million facility to support this plan.

Following in the footsteps of ASE, expectations are equally high for AMPYR USA.

“We are excited to take another step forward with AGP into the US market,” said Stephen Semlitz, Managing Director of Hartree. “This new venture allows us to further demonstrate our decades of experience in finding investment solutions, consulting, and generating sustainable and commercially viable strategies for energy renewal and regeneration.”

To learn more about the new US venture visit:

Read Article