TSOs Activate Reserve Power Plants Due to Expected High Wind Power Input

For the first time this winter the German transmission system operators (TSOs) have activated reserve power plants in Germany and Austria as a precautionary measure to balance an expected high winter power input of 24,000 Megawatt, a spokesperson of Tennet TSO is reported to have told the news agency dpa.

German and Austrian reserve power plants had to be activated. This happened not to make up for a shortfall of energy, but to have a buffer for the expected high wind power amount on Tuesday so as to ensure the stability of the grids. The high wind power input to parts of the grid (in Northern Germany) had to be counterbalanced by other parts of the grids, the Tennet spokeswoman explained, adding that otherwise a high demand could cause grid overload. Currently 1,000 to 850 Megawatt have reportedly been called on.

In winter 2011/12 TSOs had to intervene frequently to maintain the security of supply according to the “Status Report on Grid-based Energy Supply in Winter 2011/12″ published by the regulator, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). Cold reserves had to be activated twice. In November last year BNetzA assessed a need for reserve capacity of 2,500 MW and said that even 2,600 MW had been secured in Germany and Austria by the TSOs. This weekend media reports quoted Boris Schucht, CEO of the TSO 50 Hertz, as saying the situation in the German grids was currently “stable” and a BNetzA spokesperson as saying the situation was “manageable”.

Regarding terminology, the Federal Network Agency in connection with its December 2012 power plant list (Kraftwerksliste) distiguished between

  • Operational (in Betrieb) power plants;
  • Cold reserve (Kaltreserve): power plants which have been temporarily shut down and which can commence operations again within six months;
  • Reserve power plants (Reservekraftwerke): power plants which are only operated at the request of the transmission system operators (TSOs) to ensure security of supply;
  • Special cases (Sonderfälle): power plants which are temporarily decommissioned or run in a restricted mode.

When currently reporting about the activation of reserve power plants, the German press usually talks about an activation of the cold reserve.  It would appear as if – in the recent terminology of BNetzA – this would in fact be an activation of reserve power plants.

Sources: Tagesspiegel, RP-Online

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