* Growth in renewable energy pushes spot trading
* Deregulation in France also lends support
* Prominent new members include APG, BTG Pactual, Enea
FRANKFURT, March 1 (Reuters) - European spot electricity exchange EPEX Spot expects growth for the full year 2016 as more renewable energy volumes and a freeing up of supply from regulated tariffs boost the business, it said on Tuesday, presenting data for February.
“We assume a high one-digit growth rate for the year 2016 - that has already been in evidence in the year to date,” spokesman Wolfram Vogel said in response to a question.
EPEX Spot operates German, French, Austrian and Swiss spot power trading markets and has a majority stake in gas exchange Powernext. It is part of EEX group, itself a part of Deutsche Boerse.
The latest statistics showed it traded 97.11 terawatt hours (TWh) on its day-ahead and intraday markets in both January and February, 6.9 percent more than in the same period in 2015.
This followed a 19 percent jump in volumes last year when it took over Anglo-Dutch rival APX group, which handles spot trading in Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Power markets in the region are absorbing increasing amounts of power from renewable production sources, a move which is gradually driving wholesale trading towards shorter periods for the day ahead and within a trading day, boosting spot trading.
Notably Germany as the biggest market has moved towards short-term trading as it has integrated more wind and solar capacity and has come to serve as a European-wide reference in terms of volume, liquidity and price signals.
Among the trading volumes for the two months, German day-ahead and intraday volumes alone represented just over 50 percent, the EPEX Spot data showed.
The number two market, France, is embarking on deregulation that entails trade volumes being switched away from regulated tariffs for nuclear power supplied by incumbent EDF and, via EDF rivals, becoming bourse-traded.
The exchange also cited growth in its intraday markets, driven by 15-minute and 30-minute delivery products, and new trading participants on the UK day-ahead market as drivers behind its positive trend.
It also welcomed several new big players among its now more than 280 trading participants - Austrian Power Grid (APG), Brazilian bank BTG Pactual’s commodities unit, and Enea from Poland. (Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by David Evans)