Germany's grid management costs soar as high winds overstrain capacity
Costs for maintaining a secure electricity supply in Germany reached almost half a billion euros in the first three months of 2019 due to a lack of grid capacity, the latest figures from the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) show. The cost of network and system security measures rose by a third compared to the first quarter of 2018, from 355 to 473 million euros – a bill that German electricity consumers will ultimately have to pay. Due to risks of grid overload, wind power plants in particular could not feed all of their generated electricity into the German power grid, making plant operators eligible for compensation payments. The total compensation amount paid to plant operators reached 364 million euros – "the highest quarterly level to date", the BNetzA reports.
According to energy industry association BDEW, 3.2 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity from German wind turbines could not be fed into the grid from January to March. Support for grid expansion must remain a top priority for Germany, the association said. As long as more renewable energy is being produced than can be handled by the grid, however, the government should allow it to be used for private charging stations and power-to-gas technologies instead of letting it go to waste. According to BDEW, 3.2 billion kWh of electricity would be enough to supply about 100,000 households with heating gas made from renewables for one year.
Rising re-dispatch costs for grid stabilisation have become a new point of concern in a German power system increasingly based on fluctuating renewable energy sources. With the recently passed "grid expansion acceleration act", the German energy ministry wants to make sure that necessary lines are completed by 2025 to reduce costly stabilisation procedures due to grid blockages.