The German energy industry association, or BDEW, is recommending the government back combined heat and power technology as a means of improving the country’s energy security.

The group says the proliferation of renewable energy and reducing conventional power resources add up to a threat to Germany’s supply early in the next decade.

“Existing overcapacity will not just disappear completely within a few years. What’s more worrying is that we will run into undersupply of secure capacity by 2023 with our eyes open,” said Stefan Kapferer, managing director of BDEW.

Germany could retire 18,600 MW of electricity capacity by 2023 while adding about 4,400 MW, the group said.

While conventional fossil fuels capacity could fall to 75,300 MW by that stage, the energy regulator works on the assumption that maximum power demand could reach 81,800 MW, risking problems because power cannot be stored to a large extent.

Germany’s renewable power capacity has reached a level of around 100,000 MW, but that resource is, of course, weather dependent.

In addition, some 6,800 MW of unprofitable capacity is currently forced to stay online as the regulator has classified it as system-relevant for energy security, but this may disappear at some stage, BDEW said.
A government goal to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 55 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels could be missed if coal-fired capacity was needed to stay online during the next decade to ensure the stability of power networks.

As a remedy, BDEW said policymakers should favour low-pollution combined heat and power, energy storage facilities, new gas-fired power plants and expand new grids faster.

Cogeneration and storage efforts are being held back by unfavourable investment conditions while gas plants have become unprofitable due to high fuel prices.

BDEW represents around 1,800 companies involved in the production, transport and sale of power, gas, water and heat.