Energy industry says smart meters require dedicated radio frequency
Allgemeine Zeitung / Clean Energy Wire
Power companies in Germany are worried they will not get access to radio frequencies needed to manage the roll-out and implementation of smart electricity meters, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by the Allgemeine Zeitung. A 450-megahertz frequency will become vacant by the end of 2020, but it is also being eyed by the country's police and emergency management services as a blackout-proof communication line, leading to a row between economy minister Peter Altmaier and interior minister Horst Seehofer. Access to the frequency is "decisive for the energy transition's success," Altmaier's ministry said, arguing that the frictionless functioning of smart meters is necessary to manage the growing number of electric cars and to better balance supply and demand in a more flexible energy system. Moreover, if access to the frequency is also granted to third parties, such as the police, smart meter gateways would require new software and hardware components, delaying the much-anticipated roll-out by several years, the economy ministry warned. Interior minister Seehofer, on the other hand, says a secure broadband connection is "indispensable" for police, ambulances, firefighters and the German military.
In a joint position paper, Germany's energy industry lobby group BDEW, the association of local utilities VKU, and the automotive industry lobby group VDA called for allotting the frequency to the energy industry, as these "critical infrastructure operators" require a secure and permanently available communication line to implement the switch to e-cars and guarantee a stable power supply in the country. Millions of e-cars that are charged in private or at public charging stations will put pressure on power grids to become more responsive, for which there currently is no alternative to the 450-megahertz frequency.
Germany's Federal Network Agency BNetzA has said the frequency must be made available to energy companies to make sure basic services are quickly restored in case of a blackout, even though police and emergency services could be allowed to use it as well. The frequency is an important prerequisite to ensure communication lines remain intact in order to "integrate millions of decentralised electricity producers and storage systems" onto a single, blackout-proof platform, the agency says.