BNetzA Not To Designate Nuclear Back-Up Power Plant

The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) will not excercise its right pursuant to the recent 13th amendment of the Atomic Energy Act (AtG) to designate a back-up power plant.

The back-up plant was to be selected from the seven plants that were shut down in March as part of a power moratorium following the Fukushima nuclear accident plus the already not operating Krümmel power plant.

The shift in Germany’s energy policy after Fukushima lead to the passing of an energy legislative package in July, which reversed last year’s nuclear power extension and provided for a staggered phase-out of nuclear power until 2022. Under the revised AtG, the plants taken of the grid in March plus the Krümmel plant will in principle not go online again.

As the impact of decommissioning eight plants with a capacity of 8.4 GW was, however, not immediately predictable, the AtG gave BNetzA the right to designate one of the eight nuclear power plants as a back-up power plant  until 1 September 2011.

Even considering exceptional contingencies, the transmission network could be run without a nuclear back-up power plant, BNetzA said. This was possible as additional conventional power plant capacities could be identified that were able to act as back-up power plants. These are

  • Großkraftwerk 3 in Mannheim (GKM3),
  • Kraftwerk 2 (power plant 2) Mainz-Wiesbaden, and
  • power plant unit C in Ensdorf

The plants shall deliver back-up power, maintaining voltage in the Rhein-Main-Neckar area. In the case of GKM3, the state of Baden-Württemberg announced in a legally binding way to grant the necessary emission control permits, BNetzA pointed out.

In total BNetzA identified back-up power of 1,009 MW in Germany and back-up capacity of 1,075 MW in Austria. The decision of the legislator to have the need for a nuclear back-up power plant examined helped to accelerate and promoted the search for alternatives, Matthias Kurth, President of BNetzA commented.

However, Mr Kurth also made it clear that all the feed-in and load scenarios that have been examined required interventions, often of a significant kind, by the transmission system operators concerning the operation of the power plants connected to their grids. Besides Mr Kurth noted that even with back-up power there remained a certain residual risk for the security of supply.

He recommended that required and still missing plan determination procedures for power line projects pursuant to the Energieleitungsausbaugesetz (EnLAG) should be carried swiftly. Furthermore, BNetzA advised again to grant E.ON’s coal-fired power plant units 1 to 3 in Datteln, North Rhine-Westphalia, the right to continue operating until the power plant unit 4 is erected (due to a lawsuit the date of completion is currently unclear). Furthermore BNetzA suggested in view of the expected tight supply/demand situation in winter 2012/2013 to examine whether E.ON’s coal-fired Staudinger 3 plant could operate as a back-up power plant after its official decommissioning date at the end of the year until 31 March 2013. The plant is located not far from Frankfurt.

Interestingly, BNetzA mentioned in its press release that it had already proposed in May this year to use the shut down nuclear power plants to provide reactive power. Meanwhile the transmission system operators Amprion and RWE Power had calculated doing so for the Biblis A nuclear power plant and had come to the conclusion that this would assist in achieving grid stability. Hence, BNetzA said, it had asked the two companies to set about implementing this scenario. According to BNetzA’s estimates, this could be achieved by January 2012. The costs could be recovered via the grid charges, BNetzA pointed out.

Source: Federal Network Agency

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