Worker at the Grid

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The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has initiated a multi-stakeholder process, which has resulted in dena, BET, business associations and companies presenting a joint catalogue of actions / five sections of the grid are to be upgraded in the short term by carrying out reinforcement measures / additional improvements around grid monitoring, planning procedures and intervention in the operation of energy generation facilities are in the pipeline

A cross-sector working group headed by dena and the BET and set up at the initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy found that the cost of managing grid congestion could be reduced by €200 million per year. Most recently, the cost for preventing bottlenecks in the German grid and ensuring that the country’s electricity supply remains stable has totalled almost €1 billion per year.

The working group has developed seven actions that – in addition to grid expansion – are to help cut costs and increase grid capacity in the short-term. These include better grid monitoring, and reinforcing five sections of the transmission system, particularly by adding new to or upgrading transmission lines on existing pylons. The working group also recommends developing a basic strategy for improving cooperation between the different grid operators on re-dispatch, i.e. as they intervene in the operation of energy generation facilities in order to remove bottlenecks. Re-dispatch measures are also to be extended to a certain degree to renewable energy installations. The measures are to be put in place by 2023

The actions are the result of a broad-based dialogue process
Rainer Baake, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy said: “The actions that the stakeholders have presented and now seek to implement are another important step that – apart from grid expansion – will help make our grid viable for the future. The measures that have been taken are both specific and far-reaching and show that we still have room for optimising the existing grid. We now need to focus on taking our grids into the digital age. This is a key prerequisite for improving grid utilisation. A few first steps have been set out, and policymakers and private-sector stakeholders now need to work together to further elaborate on these. There has been close dialogue between the transmission and distribution system operators, which has been key to finding joint solutions for how we can use grid infrastructure in an efficient manner and how we can further enhance it.”

Andreas Kuhlmann, Chief Executive at dena said: “All stakeholders have engaged in open dialogue with one another, which has been instrumental to finding measures that help bring down the cost involved in preventing grid congestion swiftly and effectively. It is thanks to the close cooperation between transmission and distribution system operators that we have been able to agree on steps that are highly practical. However, we should not forget that using existing grids more efficiently is not a substitute for grid expansion. If we want to prevent bottlenecks in the grid and therefore the use of re-dispatch measures, we need to both upgrade and expand the grid.”

And Dr Michael Ritzau, managing director at BET added: “The decision to phase out nuclear power and transform our energy supply means that we are currently faced with a large number of grid expansion projects, and as these are being carried out, parts of the existing grid will need to be taken offline. So if we want to keep the cost of re-dispatch measures from rising, we need to use the existing grid more efficiently than in the past.” He continued by saying that the present paper included many points that needed to be further elaborated. “The paper sets out relevant points and specific actions that now need to be further analysed and worked on.”

Upgrading the transmission system, optimising processes
The transmission system operators believe that by upgrading five existing sections of the grid in Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg, the cost involved in managing bottlenecks in the grid could be reduced by €180 million. This would correspond to 20 per cent of overall re-dispatch costs. By optimising re-dispatch processes, the costs could be reduced even further.

These optimisation measures include improving monitoring systems, for example by using overhead line monitoring, which helps use overhead lines in a more efficient manner. In the future, the progress made on the use of technologies that help improve grid utilisation is to be monitored regularly and systematically by the Bundesnetzagentur. Finally, the working group also recommends to further enhance grid planning and approval procedures.

Among the working group’s members were the distribution and transmission system operators, the Bundesnetzagentur, associations, producers of technology and other experts. The dialogue process was headed by dena and BET and launched at the initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The goal was to develop practical measures that could be implemented in the short term and that would help use the existing grids more efficiently and therefore cut the cost of transforming Germany’s energy supply. The working group’s findings have been summarised in a paper entitled ‘Making more efficient use of existing grids’, which can be found here (in German).