BNetzA: SAIDI Security of Supply Results for Electricity Improved in 2014 – Hot Weather Requires Grid Management at High Cost

The security of supply in the electricity sector remained on a high level, even improving again in 2014, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) informed. System disruptions per connected end customer measured according to the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) fell from 15.32 minutes in 2013 to 12.28 minutes in 2014, the lowest level since BNetzA started SAIDI records in 2006. Yet the management of the grids is getting increasingly costly for consumers, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports.

1. SAIDI Data and Relevant Information

According to the German Energy Act (Section 52 EnWG) German electricity grid operators have to submit an annual report regarding the security of the energy supply, stating the time, duration, extent and cause of interruptions, which occurred in the last calendar year. For 2014 874 grid operators reported 173,825 supply disruptions in 884 grids (2013: 868 grid operators reported 179,139 supply disruptions in 878 grids).

The SAIDI index, however, does not record all system interruptions. It neither includes planned disruptions nor disruptions due to force majeure. SAIDI only records unplanned disruptions resulting from atmospheric effects, actions of third parties, repercussions from other grids and other malfunctions in the sphere of the grid operators. Besides, the disruption of the electricity supply has to last longer than three minutes.

The main reason for the improvement of the SAIDI figure for 2014 was the relatively low amount of system interruptions caused by atmospheric effects as there were only a limited number of extreme weather situations in Germany in 2014, BNetzA said. At the same time the number of repercussions decreased. Interruptions caused by third parties remained largely unchanged.

BNetzA’s press release quotes Jochen Homann, President of BNetzA, as saying “A significant impact of the German energy transition (Energiewende) towards a mainly renewable energy supply and the increasingly decentralised power input on the security of supply is still not visible.”

In contrast the same press release also states: “In view of the increasing demands on the grids – inter alia by the Energiewende – BnetzA is considering to record supply interruptions of less than three minutes in the future. The necessary prerequisites are participation of the grid operators that are particularly affected and finding a way to limit data collection efforts”.

2. Costly Grid Management Efforts

While the security of supply according to the SAIDI index remains high, grid management costs by the network operators increase grid charges and thus electricity costs for consumers.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes Dirk Biermann, member of the executive board of the transmission system operator 50Hertz, as saying the recent heat wave had cost roughly EUR 25 million.

The problem arises due to high solar input in northern Germany which makes it necessary to reduce conventional power production in northeast Germany (under the Renewable Energy Sources Act, EEG, renewable power has priority in the grids), FAZ says, adding that at the same time more power plants have to be activated in southern Germany due to increasing renewable power exports to South East Europe. This has to be paid for by the electricity consumers, the paper emphasises.  FAZ also points out that this problem would exist until new power lines were built. “In summer it is power from PV installations and in winter wind power that push grids to the brink”, FAZ says. Regarding slower than desired grid expansion in Germany, please see the latest monitoring report by BNetzA. For information on the government’s latest plans to accelerate grid expansion that is often affected by opposition of local residents, please click here.

Source: Federal Network Agency; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

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