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Germany's reserve electricity capacity surges for winter 2015/16

01 Oct 2013 21:22:41 | edem

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The German electricity grid will need to double the plant capacity kept on standby to respond to cold weather in winter 2015/2016, energy regulator BNetzA indicated late on Monday. Idled plants in southern Germany and capacity in neighbouring markets are likely to be used.

BNetzA assesses Germany’s reserve plant capacity two winters ahead at 4.8GW, compared with 2.54GW for winter 2013/14.

The reasons for the jump in reserve capacity are the shutdown of the 1.3GW nuclear plant Grafenrheinfeld, due by the end of 2015, and likely delays to the completion of an essential power transmission line ( see EDEM 11 September 2013 ).

In view of this, BNetzA remains concerned over electricity supply to southern Germany. In total, the energy regulator expects the southern regions will lose a net 3.2GW of generation capacity by 2015 and an additional net 2.9GW between then and 2017.

Power companies are expected to add a net 4.4GW of generation capacity power companies by 2015 and 1.9GW over the next two years in other parts of Germany.

But the slow grid connection means there is not enough transport capacity to flow power from these plants to the south.


Calling on the neighbours

BNetzA said 3.6GW of the total 4.8GW reserve capacity needed for winter 2015/2016 is already available. This includes the available reserve capacity for this winter of around 2.5GW.

In addition, south German plants due to shut down between now and 2016 will get reserve capacity status, the regulator said. It has identified 1.71GW of capacity located in south Germany due to shut down over the coming three years.

The regulator said the German power sector will be able to provide the 4.8GW reserve capacity without having to build new plants.

That means BNetzA is unlikely to have to call on a new reserve plant decree, which could mandate companies from installing new generation capacity, for example mobile natural gas turbines.

Instead, the gap of 1.2GW between available and needed reserve capacity should be matched with plants from neighbouring countries, the regulator said.

A degree of confusion surrounds the availability of the French nuclear plant Fessenheim with two 800MW blocks, which is close to the German border. Initially, French grid operator RTE told its German counterparts that the plant would go off line on 1 January 2016. However, this date was later pushed back to the end of 2016 ( see EDEM 31 July 2013 ). Martin Degen

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