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05 Jul 2019, 14:12
Freja Eriksen

“Deceptive security” of German electricity supply – commentary

Handelsblatt

Germany should beware of “deceptive security” even as a government report has shown electricity supply security in the country to be very high, writes Jürgen Flauger in a commentary in business daily Handelsblatt. Flauger, however, points to how “critical situations in the power grid are already occurring at irregular intervals”, referring to several moments in June when a lack of electricity strained the German power grid. The cause of the shortfalls in June has not been clearly established yet, but industry players and experts suspect that regulatory deficiencies, which have led to traders taking advantage of the system, could have played a part. Flauger comments that “such incidents as in June, even if they were triggered by speculators, are only possible because the German power grid is now on its edge”. A rapid boom in fluctuating renewables have presented grid operators with immense challenges, which will only grow as Germany phases out coal-fired and nuclear power generation, he adds. This calls for the power grid to be “rapidly expanded, intelligently equipped” while storage facilities should be opened up. For the present, enough conventional power plants must be available to absorb fluctuations in renewables, according to Flauger.

Production of intermittent green electricity has risen sharply over the last few years in Germany, and industry occasionally voices concern about the security of the power supply among German industry and many politicians. So far, however, Germany has one of the highest levels of supply security internationally. According to the country's grid agency BNetzA, actual power blackouts are increasingly caused by extreme weather events, rather than by the transition to renewable energies. The commission put in charge with drafting a plan to exit coal said in its proposal that “Germany’s energy supply is secure and will remain so”.

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