Germany sets blackout rules to ease straining grid

Germany’s parliament is set to pass legislation to curb blackouts by easing 3 GW of capacity, as the country’s nuclear phase-out and fluctuating renewables put its grid at risk.

Under the proposed changes to the energy law, power generators must alert authorities of plant closures and agree payments with industrial consumers for power loss.

Irsching Power Station

Crises on Germany’s power grid have trebled this year, according to a recent joint report from Germany’s competition office and the network regulator. After Germany shut 40 per cent of its nuclear capacity last year, its power supply is increasingly at risk from weather-related blips in PV and wind power generation.

The amended law will oblige the four main grid operators to agree with industrial consumers that power supply can be quickly disrupted. Firms will be paid for their readiness to comply as well as for any loss of power.

Capacity freed up through this measure should total 3 GW.

Companies such as aluminium smelters would get €20,000 ($25,820) a year per MW to agree to a potential switch-off and €100-500 for each lost MWh in a crisis.

Under a second measure, to come in force from 2013, operators of power plants must notify authorities one year in advance if they plan to shut installations. Plants declared “system relevant” by the energy regulator would then be kept open for another five years.

Utilities such as E.ON have already scrapped thermal plant projects and idled capacity, squeezed off the grid by prioritised renewable generation.

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