23 Jun 2020, 13:48
David Reay

Grid operator Amprion opposes German state investing in competitor TenneT


German grid operator Amprion has warned the government about attempting to part-nationalise the country’s electricity network. Managing director Hans-Jürgen Brick told Handelsblatt that a proposed move to prop up struggling rival TenneT would hinder Germany’s energy transition. A state-backed company would lack the “innovative strength” to effect change in the sector, he said. “In a social market economy, the state should not slip into the role of entrepreneur on a permanent basis.” 

In May 2020 Germany’s government said it considered to financially support or even buy a stake in TenneT, following concerns about the company’s financial strength and the important role it plays for Germany, where it operates part of the transmission grid. TenneT is currently owned by the Dutch state. German economy minister Peter Altmaier said the aim of the deal, the details of which are yet to be agreed, was to develop “efficient and innovative solutions for networks” and provide cost-efficient investment. TenneT said last year it plans to invest 28 billion euros in new power grid infrastructure in Germany and the Netherlands.

Brick also spoke out against state-supported consolidation of the four grid operators in Germany. “Consolidation of the German network operators under state control makes little sense,” he warned, arguing that the four firms operate in separate regions that have specific electricity needs.

Germany’s four transmission system operators (TSOs) – TenneT, Amprion, 50Hertz and TransnetBW – play a key part in the country’s energy transition. However, they are facing huge investment costs to adapt their existing infrastructure away from large power stations and towards renewable sources. Complicating the matter is the fact that two, TenneT and 50Hertz, are part-owned by foreign states. Nationalisation and consolidation are touted as solutions by some, including the Greens. But others, such as Amprion, believe the sector is strong enough to effect the changes alone. 

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