Electricity imports to Germany significantly increased in the summer of 2023. On balance, Germany has imported considerably more electricity than it has exported over the last three months.
In this article, we will present the current situation and draw a comparison to previous years. Additionally, we will shed light on the origin of electricity imports and the times and prices at which Germany imports and exports electricity.
Comparing monthly export balances for the years 2019-2023
Figure 1 depicts the German export balance for the years 2019 to 2023 on a monthly basis, representing the difference between exports and imports to Germany. A seasonal pattern in the export balance is already visible in previous years. Higher exports occur during the winter months, while exports decrease and imports increase as summer approaches. However, the export balance for the summer months of 2023 is significantly more negative than in previous years.
Import and export countries for July 2023
Looking at the countries from which Germany mainly imports, nearly a third of the imports come from Denmark, where electricity production from wind power dominates. Denmark in this case often also operates as a transit country for electricity which is supplied to Germany from Norway and Sweden. In addition, a particularly large amount of electricity is imported from Switzerland and the Netherlands. France ranks fourth in terms of imports. However, France also imports large quantities from Germany. In July 2023, France was the largest electricity consumer from Germany. Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands also imported electricity from Germany in July 2023. Despite these imports, Germany had a negative export balance with all four countries, as the amount of electricity imported exceeded the amount exported.
Average daily trend of the export balance in July 2023
Whether Germany is importing or exporting electricity depends significantly on the time of day. On average, electricity was exported during midday in July, when there is often high solar radiation. However, especially in the mornings and evenings during peak demand times and with reduced photovoltaic (PV) input, imports increased noticeably.
Comparing market values of exports and imports for the years 2019-2023
The average import prices have consistently been higher than the export prices in recent years, as depicted in Figure 4. This is attributed, among other factors, to the daily trend as previously illustrated in Figure 3. Germany primarily exports during midday when other European countries also experience high generation with low demand, leading to lower prices. The peak loads of the morning and evening hours result in higher import prices due to the increased demand.
The increase in electricity imports during the summer of 2023, coupled with a negative export balance, highlights an ongoing trend. This trend is influenced by the seasonal pattern, with exports occurring during winter and imports more frequently during summer. The volatile electricity generation from photovoltaic (PV) sources at different times of the day plays a central role in this dynamic. This pattern is also reflected in the import and export prices in July 2023: Imports occur during peak demand times with higher electricity prices, while exports are more prominent during sunny hours with lower electricity prices.
 European association for the cooperation of transmission system operators for electricity, „Entso-e – Transparency plattform,“ 12 09 2022. [Online]. Available: https://transparency.entsoe.eu/. [Zugriff am 12 09 2022].
 R. Stobbe, „https://www.stromdaten.info/,“ [Online]. Available: https://www.stromdaten.info/ANALYSE/importexport/index.php. [Zugriff am 16 08 2023].