Grid agency votes to give Germany's energy industry own blackout-proof communication line
Clean Energy Wire
The advisory board of Germany's federal network agency (BNetzA) has unanimously voted in favour of providing the country's energy industry with a vacant digital radio frequency to ensure a safe communication line for the operators of vital energy infrastructure in case of emergencies. "The energy transition and decentralised power generation make our energy supply structure much more complex," said advisory board member Joachim Pfeiffer. In order to integrate millions of electricity users and suppliers on a single and blackout-proof platform, the use of vacant 450 megahertz (MHz) frequencies would be an important prerequisite to ensure communication lines remain intact. Besides Germany's energy industry, security authorities such as the police or the military had also applied for exclusive use of the 450 MHz frequencies. However, the BNetzA advisory board concluded that the frequencies should be reserved for the energy sector in order to ensure safe power supply and a successful continuation of the energy transition. A final decision will be made in 2020, the BNetzA said.
Stefan Kapferer, head of energy industry lobby association BDEW, welcomed the BNetzA's vote, arguing that it was necessary for grid operators to quickly restore a functioning power supply in case of a blackout. "The requirements cannot be met by the large public providers, since their radio network is often installed based on population density and therefore not very strong in rural areas. But that's exactly where most of the generation and grid infrastructure is found in a decentralised energy transition," Kapferer said.
Germany's power supply is among the safest in the world and has shown no signs of growing instability amid the expansion of renewable energy sources. However, both the strain on energy infrastructure due to extreme weather events and potential price speculation on energy markets with adverse effects on the grid have underlined the need for continued safety measures in recent years.