09 Apr 2024, 13:53
Benjamin Wehrmann

Curtailing of renewable power increases in Germany in 2023 as re-dispatch costs recede

Der Spiegel

A lack of grid capacity has led to an increase of in so-called re-dispatch measures in Germany in 2023, news magazine Der Spiegel reports based on data by the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). These grid stabilisation measures, which include curtailing renewable power output, become necessary whenever a change of weather results in a sudden influx of renewable power into the grid. About 19 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity were lost due to curtailments last year, up from 14 TWh in 2022, the data showed. However, the costs for deliberately reducing output by some installations while deploying additional capacity in other regions were lower in 2023 than in the previous year, falling from 4.2 billion in 2022 euros to 3.1 billion euros one year later. The 19 TWh of electricity curtailed last year was equal to about four percent of Germany’s total annual electricity generation.

While renewable power installations had to be throttled down in some regions due to grid bottlenecks, fossil fuel power plants had to be deployed in other regions to cover for the curtailed output, especially coal and gas-fired power plants in western and southern Germany, the article said. The BNetzA said building wind turbines relatively far away from energy consumption centres contributed to the high need for re-dispatch measures, as long-distance power transmission lines are among the most overburdened parts of the power grid. The lower costs of keeping the grid stable, despite the increased re-dispatch need, are predominantly due to the drop in energy prices after 2022, when Russia’s war on Ukraine fueled a spike in energy costs across Europe, the article added. Conventional power stations that grid operators call on to produce extra power, do so at costs higher than the market price.

The expansion of Germany’s power grid to accommodate the rapidly growing number of renewable power installations has been plagued by delays and quarrels in recent years, although the government was able to overcome key hurdles to expansion in the past year. Besides bringing electricity transmission capacity to scale, the government is looking into other measures to ensure that renewable power is being used instead of curtailed.

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