Germany’s grid agency investigates suspected power price speculation
The German Federal Network Agency, BNetzA, has launched an investigation into whether power price speculation destabilised the country’s power grid, newspaper Handelsblatt reports. At several moments in June, there was less electricity available than needed to keep the grid stable, and Germany had to rely on neighbouring countries to cope. BNetzA has called for a consultation among market players on measures to ensure the balance of the German electricity grid. “We want to minimise the risk of supply security,” BNetzA vice-head Peter Frank said in a press release, adding that if grid fluctuations were caused by price speculation, this would have been against the law and the grid agency would “take resolute action against it”.
Power market experts say faulty regulation of the “control energy” used to balance out supply and demand on the grid and secure system stability could have caused the “very tense situation” in June. Activating control energy is comparatively expensive and traders try to avoid it by forecasting supply and demand as precisely as possible. Due to a 2018 regulation, however, activating control power can be less costly than buying or selling power through regular markets. Traders may have taken advantage of this situation. At the time of the disruption, BNetzA cautioned that the cause of the voltage fluctuations was “not yet clearly established”.
Production of fluctuating green electricity in Germany has risen sharply over recent years. This has led to industry concerns about the security of the power supply. But Germany still has one of the most reliable electricity grids in the world.