German Federal Network Agency: »Dark doldrums« is not the problem

The German Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has published details of the grid reserve required for the coming winter half-year 2023/24, i.e. the reserve power plant capacity needed to ensure secure grid operation at all times. Based on the planning submitted by the transmission system operators at the end of March, the BNetzA confirmed a total requirement of 4.62 gigawatts (GW). Although this is considerably less than last winter (8.26 GW), this is only due to the fact that power plants which had previously been shut down and were only managed as reserve capacity were once again approved for regular operation – a measure taken by the German government last year to prevent supply bottlenecks.
Around three-quarters (3.28 GW) of the grid reserve requirement is covered by German power plants, with the remaining 1.33 GW covered by plants outside the country. The reserve is planned in order to be able to safely meet the expected highest occurring demand for balancing energy (»redispatch«) of 19.5 GW in a »critical hour«. This involves reducing power production upstream of the bottleneck and increasing it downstream when a grid bottleneck is imminent. The challenge, according to BNetzA President Klaus Müller, is therefore not the so-called »Dunkelflaute« (»dark doldrums«, a period of time in which solar and wind fall short simultaneously), but rather »a situation with high consumption in the south and a great deal of renewable generation in the north.« He added that this once again demonstrated the need for rapid expansion of the grids for the energy transition.

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