Grid expansion delay due to pandemic threatens to split German power price zone
Germany's single power price zone could come under threat as the coronavirus has practically slowed power grid expansion to a standstill, reports Steven Hanke in the energy and climate newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. Planning and approval procedures have been halted as public hearings cannot be carried out under current coronavirus contact restrictions.
The German government opposes splitting the single bidding zone as power prices would likely become higher in southern Germany due to strong industry demand and lower in the north where wind power production is high. This regional disparity in supply and demand causes bottlenecks in the country's transmission grid, leading excess power to flow into neighbouring countries, and cause destabilizing loop-flows, blockages at the borders, as well as problems for the further integration of power markets. In 2016, this led the EU to threaten a split of the single German bidding zone.
In order to avoid a division, the German government in January presented the European Commission with a Bidding Zone Action Plan, based on a timetable with quarterly milestones for each individual power line project. But the action plan's implementation is now threatened, said a draft resolution from the German state energy minister meeting, which took place on 4 May, reports Tagesspiegel Background. The economy ministry has, however, drafted a planning security act which is intended to maintain the foreseen pace of grid expansion, among other things by digitalising public participation.