[Insights Report E-world] “The future of flexibility in the German power market for Industrial Consumers”

[Insights Report E-world] “The future of flexibility in the German power market for Industrial Consumers”


Insights Report E-world 2018 written by Dirk Rosenstock - 2018.02.20

After giving a very interesting introduction on the current fundamental data in terms of electricity flexibility, Dr Tode of ewi ER&S turned to the outlook for the coming years. It quickly became apparent that additional liquidity should be expected in reserve power if there is a further loosening of the currently applicable rules. By contrast, the traditional (often fossil) units generating balancing power will be reduced, leading to a more heterogeneous (price) outlook. Also interesting to note was an expected trend of higher price volatility on the short-term markets, e.g. intraday, as a result of increasing renewable energy production.

Dr Christmann of TenneT gave an overview of the current market composition for reserve power and regular acquisitions made by transmission network operators. Key to the shape of the future market is the announced changes to minute reserves (MR) and secondary balancing power (SBP) being brought in by everyone as part of European harmonisation of these categories of reserve power. Linked to this is the announced switch from weekly to daily SBP auctions from 2018, as well as the cross-control area backing to be brought in for MR and SBP from mid-2019. In parallel to these measures, a series of consultations are currently ongoing at the German and European level to achieve further harmonisation right up to primary balancing power (PBP). The expectation, in any event, is an improvement of the so-called “level playing field”, i.e. fair competition among the various providers and aggregates in the market. Dr Christmann called for participation in the disconnectable load regulation (AbLaV in German) as there has been little new uptake since it was opened to smaller units last March.

The legal expert Sebastian Schnurre of AssmannPfeiffer then discussed the obstacles to flexibility on the electricity market. Among other points, it became clear that the current (often rigid) taxes and fees approach in energy costs offers industry little incentive to increase flexibility. The announcement by politicians to reform the network charges system has created hope but lacks any specific details because of ongoing government coalition negotiations. Mr Schnurre highlighted specific obstacles in the current special provisions governing network charges (specifically NEV §19, paragraph 2, lines 1 and 2). The German Federal Networks Agency (BNEtzA) report of 2017 even described them as no longer suitable for the network. The result of these provisions is often strict production output, and despite some very specific proposals from the BNEtzA to couple network charge reductions to participation in reserve power or the operating reserve, here again, we must wait and see what political decision-makers do. For example, the European Commission has been assessing §19, paragraph 2 line 2 for years without reaching a decision.

Ms Langenheld of Agora Energiewende tackled the contradiction often raised by industry between energy efficiency and increasing flexibility. She made clear that focusing purely on energy efficiency without taking due account of the supply and network sides is often insufficient and advocated coupling energy efficiency (and kWh savings) to a time of day factor as the value of this efficiency can vary. Using various examples from a recent study by Agora (including Trimet Aluminium), Ms Langenheld showed that with the corresponding investigation and targeted investments these two topics can be fully optimised, meaning enhanced flexibility and increased efficiency at the same time. However, there is no way of avoiding more dynamic pricing signals to give impetus to energy efficiency.

Two representatives of industrial companies concluded the podium discussions: Dr Weng of ArcelorMittal from Hamburg and Mr Vomberg of Vestolit from Marl described what specific action they are already taking on processes to achieve greater flexibility for the energy revolution alongside
ongoing production and demand. This ranged from participation in the MRL markets and disconnectable loads to primary balancing power. Some very specific ideas were raised that go beyond current measures, but which are often not implemented because of uncertain framework conditions and they take far too long to be attractive investments. There was agreement with industry representatives that the charges and fees systems and the special provisions are not a reliable basis for investments and that policymakers must now act on their promises.

© REstore 2018

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