Expert Hearing in Parliament Committee for Economics and Technology on Energy Turnaround Bills

Yesterday, the Bundestag Committee for Economics and Technology held an expert hearing on two draft bills that form part of the government’s proposed nuclear phase-out and the accelerated shift to an age of renewable energy supply. The experts invited gave their opinions regarding the Act Amending Energy Law related Provisions (ref. no. 17/624817/6072) and the Act on Measures Accelerating the Expansion of the Electricity Grids (ref. no. 17/624917/6073).

Regarding the proposed grid expansion, Christoph Meurer of the energy consulting company CONSENTIC welcomed the proposed transfer of competences for planning new power lines to the Federal Network Agency in view of the many kilometres of lines needed.

The Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW) and the transmission system operator 50Hertz agreed, saying that a one-stop plan determination procedure would accelerate construction.

The Federal Network Agency said it was read to assume responsibility, but needed more manpower. The agency criticised the proposal to primarily build new 110-kV power lines as underground power lines (Section 43 h EnWG new), pointing out that 2,500 km of new lines would cost EUR 1.4 billion instead of EUR 500 million.

Prof. Christian von Hirschhausen of the Technical University of Berlin called the timeframe for grid expansion planning too short. Planning was based on grid expansion studies by the German Energy Agency (dena) reaching until 2025, he said.

According to the press release, the German Renewable Energy Federation (Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energien – BEE), which had recently criticized the amendment of the Renewable Energy Source Act (EEG) (that also forms part of the energy package), welcomed the proposals, but asked for more incentives for the expansion of storage capacities. It called for a general exemption of storage facilities from grid fees. BDEW apparently agreed.

Other topics that were discussed were interruptable electricity loads (abschaltbare Leistungen) that help balance the grids and compensation therefore as well as back-up power plants.

The Federal Cartell Office pointed out that due to the nuclear phase-out the market position of the four major utilities E.ON AG, RWE AG, EnBW AG and Vattenfall Europe AG could be strengthened in the short-term.

The renowned energy law professor Franz Jürgen Säcker of FU Berlin said in a written statement that Germany would unilaterally give up the EU system of open markets for electricity and gas, opting instead in the interest of climate protection for a planned-economy system.

Source: Bundestag Committee for Economics and Technology

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