19 Jan 2021, 12:18
Kerstine Appunn

E-car charging law glitch could delay Germany's transport transition

Clean Energy Wire

Germany is struggling to introduce rules for regulating the charging process of e-cars and other new power consumers to ensure that peaks in electricity consumption by vehicle batteries or heat pumps are not endangering the power grid. A draft law that the economy ministry (BMWi) had worked on for two years and published just before Christmas 2020 was withdrawn after minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) “didn’t give his approval,”, a BMWi spokesperson said. Observers from industry groups and politicians were surprised by this move so late in the legislative process.

The draft law allowed distribution grid operators to temporarily reduce power supply to new consumers, such as e-car charging stations, heat pumps and battery storages, to avoid grid problems and expensive extensions to the power grid. Consumers that want to be exempted from having their power supply managed this way would have to pay an extra grid fee.

While the Association of Energy Market Innovators (bne) said the bill would have been “harmful to the energy transition, consumers, the transport transition and the automotive industry” and applauded the ministry for retracting it, the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) criticised the move as "completely incomprehensible". BDEW head Kerstin Andreae said: "It must be clear to everyone involved: For electromobility to succeed, we need a stable power grid at all times.” She called it "astonishing" that the automotive industry "is in the process of bad-mouthing its own future product by suggesting that car charging will be prevented."

The differing stances of automotive and energy industry actors had been known throughout the preparation of the law, but the final draft of December 2020 was perceived as a compromise.

Energy politician Johann Saathoff of the Social Democrats (SPD) said the BMWi proposal had been “the first progressive impulse” of the ministry in this legislative period. Batteries could be regulated by grid operators to a small extent, something that people would hardly notice but which for the electricity grid would have substantially positive effects. He asked the minister to “at least explain what prompted him” to withdraw the draft law.

Altmaier's ministry said he would talk to both the vehicle manufacturers and grid operators and “will then present a new proposal that is acceptable to all parties."

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