News Digest Item
08 Mar 2018

Cross-border dispute on the Balkans puts focus on European power network’s vulnerability

Die Welt / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

A dispute between the two south-eastern European states Serbia and Kosovo is said to be responsible for a voltage drop in the European power grid, which has caused many electronic clocks on the continent to run slow, Norbert Lossau writes in Die Welt. “Since mid-January, the grid frequency stood at merely 49.996 Hertz on average” instead of the 50 Hertz - or 50 swings per second -that are needed to keep the grid completely stable. The clocks perceive each second to be 0.8 percent too short, which adds up to a couple of minutes after a few weeks. The grid fluctuations are manageable this time, “but if the divergences from the target value increase, a collapse of the entire grid is possible”, Lossau says. He argues the risk of a blackout increases because the energy transition makes a greater exchange of electricity across country borders necessary to balance intermittent feed-in from wind and solar power installations.
In a separate article, Christian Geinitz reports in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that former German environment minister Klaus Töpfer will travel to Serbia and Kosovo next week to mediate their quarrel. Both states are members to the European Energy Community and have pledged to align their energy policy to European law. Töpfer says he intends to “ease off the situation and highlight the ramifications”. According to the newspaper, the difficulties in the grid between the two Balkan-states partly stem from the fact that Kosovo, which is not recognised as an independent state by Serbia and also by EU members like Spain or Romania, does not have its own grid control area.

Read the Welt article in German here and the article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine in German here. Also see these expert reactions collected by Science Media Centre Germany (in German).

See the CLEW dossier Germany’s energy transition in the European context for background.  

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