BNetzA: Fewer Critical Situations in German Grids Despite Long Winter

The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has released its report on the security of supply with electricity and gas for the 2012/2013 winter. Despite the long winter fewer critical situations occurred in the German grids than in the previous year. However, grid expansion remains imperative, BNetzA said in its report .

“The implementation of the recommendations designated as urgent in the May 2012 report on the situation in winter 2011/2012 has improved the security of supply”, Jochen Homann, president of BNetzA said. The amendment of the ManyElectronics Act providing that power plants that are deemed “system-relevant” cannot be decommissioned was the most important legislative measure, Mr Homann pointed out. He added that a closer integration of the electricity and gas grids, the need of which became apparent in February 2012, has also been reached. The government has meanwhile passed the ordinance on reserve power plants that further specifies the provisions introduced to.

Higher Than Anticipated Wind or Solar Input

Critical situations in the German grids occurred on 24 December 2012 and on 10 February 2013 due to higher than anticipated input from wind respectively solar power plants.

On 24 December 2012 high input from wind power plants happened at a time of low demand. At the same time conventional power plants did not reduce their input, which aggravated the situation. On 10 February 2013 twice the amount of solar power was fed into the grids than predicted as there was less snow on the photovoltaic modules than expected. BNetzA welcomed efforts by the transmission operators to improve the forecasts for photovoltaic input by setting up a reference measurement system (Referenzmesssystem).

Another critical situation happened on 25 and 26 March 2013 in the transmission grids of 50 Hertz Transmission and Tennet TSO when the input from conventional power plants and renewable power plants located in northern Germany exceeded the predicted input. According to the forecasts of the previous day, it seemed sufficient to use redispatch measures, without a need to activate reserve power plants, BNetzA said. However, redispatch was not not possible because of an unexpected unavailability of the power plants Irsching 5 and Staudinger 5 due to technical reasons and the non-availability of the power plant in Ingolstadt due to an overload in the connecting grid.

Unlike in the winter 2011/2012 problems did not occur in the gas grids in winter 2012/2013.

Negative Prices at the Electricity Exchange

In the press release for the winter report BNetzA Mr Homann also commented on negative prices at the EEX electricity exchange resulting from an oversupply. Negative prices indicated a lack of flexibility of conventional power plants to react to competition. Besides, they indicated a lack of flexibility of renewable power plants to react to low demand. Therefore they were important signals that create economic pressure for more flexibility. Negative prices were no reason to be concerned about the security of supply. .

BNetzA and TSOs Prepare for Further Nuclear Withdrawal

As Germany decided in 2011 to withdraw from nuclear power by 2022, BNetzA and the TSO prepare for further shut-downs of nuclear power plants, in particular the decommissioning of the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant in Southern Germany in winter 2015/2016 (shut down date is 31 December 2015 pursuant to Section 7 Atomic Energy Act), BNetzA said. The agency also pointed out the need for a speedy grid expansion, especially between Thuringia and Northern Bavaria.

Source: Federal Network Agency

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