20 Jul 2023, 13:22
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany’s electricity grids not yet equipped for the energy transition – Munich utility CEO

Zeit Online

Germany's electricity grids are not yet equipped for the projected increase of power consumers such as electric cars and heat pumps, the CEO of the local utility of southern German city Munich (Münchner Stadtwerke), Florian Bieberbach, told Zeit Online in an interview. Local grids in Germany could become overloaded “if everyone in a residential area suddenly has an electric car and then everyone charges at the same time”, he said. However, Bieberbach added there was no need to panic now, as "the e-cars and also the heat pumps are not all connected to the grid overnight, but gradually." Operators had to modernise the grids. In the meantime, suppliers could throttle controllable power supplies in the event of an overload, something Munich’s local utility plans to do, he added. Electricity suppliers would for example want to throttle the charging process of e-cars at one point or another. "We expect this to happen only very rarely and that customers almost won't notice it," he added. Bieberbach also said that a gas shortage in Germany for the next winter season remained a “considerable risk”. He said there is “a danger that people will no longer take the energy crisis so seriously” because things turned out okay last winter.

Energy industry association BDEW called the modernisation of German distribution grids a “mammoth task” for the next years. The renewable energy share in German electricity consumption is set to rise from 50 percent today to 80 percent by 2030, while the number of electric cars and heat pumps is expected to grow rapidly. Plans by German grid regulator BNetzA to throttle electricity supply to households with e-car charging stations or heat pumps in an effort to prevent the grid from being overloaded at peak times caused a backlash at the beginning of 2023.  

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