Federal Network Agency Presents Annual Report 2014

The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has presented its Annual Report 2014 for the telecoms, postal services, railway, gas and electricity sectors. Rendering infrastructure investments attractive, promoting competition and ensuring consumer protection were the key aspects of its work, the agency said. President Jochen Homann stressed the need for a modern infrastructure, calling it the lifeline of an industrial society.

Regarding the energy sector BNetzA highlighted the following aspects of its work:

1. Grid Expansion

Eliminating grid congestion and promoting grid expansion were essential for a successful “Energiewende” or energy transition (transformation of the German energy system towards a supply that is mainly based on renewable energies), BNetzA pointed out. Yet grid expansion could not keep up with the transformation of the energy supply the report says (cf. page 35; for more information, please also see the agency’s webpage on grid expansion)

a) Need for Grid Expansion

BNetzA is involved in establishing the need for grid expansion.

In March 2015 BNetzA started a public consultation of the drafts of the 2014/2024 Network Development Plan (NEP) and Offshore Network Development Plan (O-NEP) submitted by the transmission system operators. Already at that time the agency said it found 63 of the 92 proposed projects currently necessary, in particular the three main HVDC power line routes from the north of Germany to the south (for more information, please see here).

b) Competent Planning and Permitting Authority

Besides, BNetzA is the competent authority for planning and permitting procedures for power line projects crossing the borders of the sixteen German states (Länder).

For two main power line projects permitting applications were received, BNetzA said.

The agency pointed out that it carefully examined the application for the HVDC power line project SuedLink (also called Corridor C) running from Wilster to Grafenrheinfeld (for more information in German, please click here), but still sees the need for amendments before it can start the necessary public conferences on the application (Antragskonferenz; cf. Section 20 NABEG). Concern relate to the proposal for a power line corridor and suitable alternatives.

For two sections of the HVDC power line project “Ultranet” (for more information in German, please see here) BNetzA held public conferences on the application, following which it will now determine the scope of assessment (Untersuchungsrahmen) for federal planing.

“We have made a bit of progress with regard to grid expansion. The schedules can still be met if the political support for grid expansion is there”, President Homann said. There is opposition in Bavaria concerning two power line projects (including Suedlink) that shall transmit power to Bavaria where four nuclear power plants will be shut down until 2022, starting at the end of 2015 with the plant in Grafenrheinfeld (for more information, please see here).

c) Monitoring

BNetzA also monitors power line projects for which the federal states are responsible. With regard to the project “Thüringer Strombrücke” (Thuringian power bridge), a 380 kV extra-high voltage power line connecting Bad Lauchstädt in Saxony-Anhalt with Redwitz in Bavaria and crossing Thuringia, Mr Homann highlighted the fact that the plan determination decisions for the last two sections were issued, saying a completion of the project could be expected at the beginning of 2016.

2. Security of Supply

An important aspect of the Energiewende (energy transition) and thus BNetzA’s work is the security of supply.

So far BNetzA has received 51 applications for decommissioning power plant units (since a 2012 amendment of the German Energy Act (EnWG), BNetzA must be notified of a decommissioning; for more information, please see here), 33 of which relate to the permanent decommissioning of units with a total capacity of 8,071 MW, including 4,557 MW in Southern Germany. The latter does not comprise the planned temporary closure of E.ON’s power plant units Irsching 4 and Irsching 5, BNetzA remarked. Thus far 11 power plants have been classified as system-relevant and 15 power plants have been considered not system-relevant by the TSOs, BNetzA said (If the classification as system-relevant is approved by BNetzA, power plants must not be decommissioned for up to 24 months, cf. Section 13a para. 2 sent. 9 EnWG).

3. Market Abuse

In 2014 BNetzA investigated five cases of alleged market abuse in the energy wholesale sector, possibly violating Regulation (EU) No 1227/2011 on wholesale energy market integrity and transparency (REMIT). In two cases foreign regulatory agencies were identified as the competent authorities. One case was closed without finding a violation. The two remaining cases are still being examined.

4. Background Information

BNetzA is a federal government agency of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) with headquarters in Bonn. Since 2005 when the former regulatory office for telecommunications and postal services was also given the mandate to regulate the electricity and gas sector, the agency has been responsible for the implementation of the German and EU energy policy in the liberalised energy markets.

Source: Federal Network Agency

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