German grid only requires fraction of conventional plants continuously running - agency
Clean Energy Wire
The German power grid only requires a fraction of the conventional power plants that are continuously running in order to maintain grid stability, Germany's Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has found in a report on minimum production scenarios, adding that a large share of the feed-in from relatively inflexible coal, nuclear and gas plants contributes to negative power prices. "Only a small part of the conventional generation capacity is needed for the grid," said BNetzA President Jochen Homann, adding that many plants are slow to react on changes to spot electricity prices due to heat supply obligations. The agency analysed several periods of negative power prices, when production is much higher than demand, between 2016 and 2018 and found that 18 to 26 gigawatts (GW) had been fed into the grid by conventional plants during that time, while only 4 GW to 8 GW would have been needed for grid stability. The rest of this so-called "conventional generation pedestal" could be lowered if plant operators invested in greater flexibility, the BNetzA said.
Renewable power lobby group BEE said the report showed that conventional power plants obstruct a smooth energy transition. "From an energy economy point of view and taking into account financial expenses, it is no longer acceptable that conventional power plants and fossil-powered combined-heat-power plants clog the grid while clean power is throttled down," said BEE President Simone Peter.
Germany's conventional power capacity is set to gradually sink over the coming decade, with the last nuclear plant closing in 2022 and the last coal plant no later than 2038. In a draft of an unpublished report, the government says the importance of flexible natural gas plants is set to increase over the coming years to guarantee supply security.