May 4, 2020 / 12:51 PM / a month ago

German energy regulator raises power reserve capacity for coming winter

FRANKFURT, May 4 (Reuters) - Germany’s energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, on Monday raised the necessary power reserve capacity for the 2020/21 winter to 6,596 megawatts (MW), saying it needed to make up for insufficient grid expansion to plug possible gaps.

A year ago, the Bonn-based authority required 5,126 MW of reserve capacity for the 2019/20 winter.

The authority has to ensure there are no supply bottlenecks when demand peaks in winter, signing up power plants on standby to quickly provide electricity.

It also commissions and monitors construction of transmission capacity to maintain a secure network structure as Germany abandons fossil fuels and nuclear power and switches to green energy, the supply of which can be more volatile.

“If a high wind power influx and power imports into northern Germany were to coincide with high demand and very low solar power feed-in in southern Germany, the intensive transport job from North to South would overburden the grid,” the Bundesnetzagentur said in a statement.

“At the same time, a low wholesale power price would result in very high energy exports, especially into southern European neighbouring countries,” it added.

The benchmark German annual power price in the European wholesale market has fallen by a fifth from the start of the year as the coronavirus crisis sapped demand.

For winter 2024/25, the authority said it would need to enlist 8,042 MW of reserve capacity. It routinely looks four years ahead to allow for longer-term planning.

At that point, there will be more new grids in place which would theoretically lower reserve needs, it said. However, the figure allows for more cross-border energy trading under European Union laws to bring about a harmonised energy market in the bloc.

Last year, it defined 10,647 MW as necessary in the 2022/23 winter, shortly after Germany switches off its last nuclear reactor in 2022. (Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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