Germany considers faster electricity grid expansion for wind
Germany is considering a government proposal to speed up grid expansion, as economy minister Philipp Rosler warned of another rise in renewable energy surcharges for retail users. The government is proposing to freeze subsidy payments, which critics say could bring renewable capacity growth to a standstill.
During the parliament debate on Wednesday, politicians discussed a government proposal to speed up grid expansion, aiming to cut down the average construction time for transmission lines to four years from the current ten.
One of the key elements of the proposal is to transfer competencies from states to federal authorities, since construction delays were mostly experienced when a power line is crossing state borders. Germany plans to build three major direct current power lines from north to south, building 2,800km of new lines and modernising a further 2,900km (see EDEM 26 November 2012).
The current lack of power lines to transport excess wind power generation in the north of the country into the consumption areas of the south became apparent in the full-year results of transmission system operator (TSO) 50Hertz on Wednesday. The TSO had to tell renewable power producers to reduce their electricity generation temporarily to avoid oversupply on 77 days last year, almost double the 45 days during 2011. Renewable curtailment is the last measure taken after reducing conventional plants.
In the same session, economy minster Philipp Rosler warned that the renewable electricity surcharge for retail customers could rise from currently 5.27 cents/kWh to 6 cents/kWh by the end of the year, Rosler said in a speech to the parliament on Thursday. Even without a renewable capacity increase, the depressing impact of solar and wind power on wholesale power prices is pushing up subsidy costs, because these have to bridge the rising gap between the guaranteed feed-in tariff and the low wholesale power prices.
A government proposal to freeze the surcharge at its current level has drawn heavy criticism from the renewable sector as it is feared that this would essentially stop renewable capacity growth (see EDEM 28 February 2013).
The economy minister reiterated the need to reform the renewable energy subsidy regime, instead of introducing a capacity market as another state-directed economic tool.
On Wednesday, German utility's CEO Johannes Teyssen said that while some reform of the renewable energy law might be introduced before the national election in September, it is unlikely to be a complete overhaul (see EDEM 13 March 2013).
Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss renewable power, the lack of profitability for conventional plants, a new power market design and power grid expansion with all 16 state ministers on Wednesday. Martin Degen
Other Related Stories