27 Feb 2023, 13:55
Benjamin Wehrmann

Industry lashes out at plan to throttle power supply to households' e-car chargers, heat pumps

Clean Energy Wire

An alliance of consumer protection and industry groups has launched an appeal against plans by Germany’s grid regulator to throttle electricity supply to households using energy transition technologies like heat pumps or e-car charging stations to prevent grid overload during consumption peaks. “The federal network agency (BNetzA) has to do more to avoid grid bottlenecks,” for example by introducing flexible electricity tariffs and clear emergency protocols, the alliance of consumer protection group vzbv, automotive industry association VDA, heat pump lobby group BWP and energy industry association bne said. Millions of consumers would be using these “steerable consumption devices” that can be regulated externally in the coming years, the groups said, which is why interventions by BNetzA would have “excessive and one-sided consequences” for a large part of the population. 

Clear rules are needed on how much supply can be cut in emergency situations and consumption patterns influenced by offering lower prices outside of peak times, the associations argued. “In order to grab this problem by its root and not only manage emergencies with a lot of effort, a comprehensive expansion and digitalisation of the electricity grid, including safeguards for data protection, is needed.” Cutting consumers off from their electricity supply could undermine trust, the groups said. “The energy transition will only succeed if consumers accept it,” vzbv board member Ramona Pop said. “If charging cars at home is curtailed, this would mean enormous losses in comfort. That’s a potential risk for consumer trust that we must avoid,” VDA head Hildegard Müller commented. In reaction to the appeal, the head of the network agency, Klaus Müller, said on Twitter: "If the debate about connecting e-cars and heat pumps to the grid continues with accusations, it will not benefit anyone - neither the (car) industry nor the grid operators. We need a joint effort to connect everyone."

Already in January, a car company had issued a statement by legal experts challenging the grid regulator’s plans. The German government plans to install 500,000 new heat pumps per year in homes from 2024 and aims to have 15 million fully electric passenger cars on the country’s roads by 2030. To keep up with the expected increase in electricity demand, BNetzA has called for a push in local electricity grid expansion and urged consultations on flexible regulations.

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