22 Dec 2020, 12:27
Edgar Meza

Energy industry alliance applies for radio frequency to enable digitalisation

pv magazine

The German government is making a 450-megahertz (MHz) radio network available to the energy sector that could be used to control PV systems and other feed-in and load management systems, Ralph Diermann writes in pv magazine. A large consortium of utilities is now bidding for the frequencies as part of a Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) tendering process. A broad alliance from the water and power sector has thrown its hat into the ring with the newly founded joint venture 450connect, which aims to build and operate a nationwide, non-discriminatory LTE radio network for electricity, gas, district heating and water supply. The network would enable the connection of intelligent metering systems and control of generation plants and load management systems.

The 450connect GmbH joint venture consists of four equal shareholders: Alliander AG, a subsidiary of Dutch energy giant Alliander; a consortium of regional energy providers, German utility group E.ON; and Versorger-Allianz 450, likewise a consortium of municipal utilities and water and power providers. Together, the companies operate critical infrastructures such as electricity, gas, water supply and wastewater disposal across 90 percent of Germany's area. "The energy and water industry is absolutely dependent on a 450 MHzradio network," said Versorger-Allianz CEO Theo Waerder. Such a network is essential in driving the necessary digitalisation of critical infrastructures and making the energy and transport transition a success, he added. Alliander CEO Frank Zeeb said 450connect and the energy industry have already begun developing 450 MHz sites.

The energy industry and security services had been competing for access to the dedicated frequency for over a year, with interior minister Seehofer arguing a secure broadband connection is "indispensable" for police, ambulances, firefighters and the German military. Proponents of an exclusive access for the energy industry, on the other hand, had argued that sharing the frequency would create difficulties for the safety of devices like smart meters and hinder the further digitalisation of Germany's energy system.

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