26. August 2022 By Georg Benhöfer, Lars Zimmermann and Stephen Lorenzen
Farewell to the unbridled use of electricity
After a long and hard work week, there is finally time for the chores you were not able to do during the week. Once you are finished with an elaborate breakfast feast, you put the dishes as well as the pots and pans from last night into the dishwasher. You give it a quick check to see that it is full and then turn on the dishwasher which is now hard at work. Thankfully, the washing machine takes care of the mountain of laundry. You toss in your clothes, select a programme and press start. All you have to do now is stack the chairs on the table to allow the robot vacuum cleaner to do its job. After giving yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, it is time to start slowly cooking the pasta sauce.
Electricity is available anytime we need it. That is something we have taken for granted for decades, and it is something that we rarely if ever think about. However, electricity has got more expensive, primarily because we never had to think about it. The newly amended Section 14a of the EnWG that is set to enter into force on 1 January 2023 could change all that quickly. This blog post will summarise the contents covered in it.
As our previous blog post outlined, the German government enacted a series of regulatory measures and changes with its adoption of the Easter Package. The Easter Package included an amendment to Section 14a of the EnWG on the grid-oriented control of controllable consumption devices and grid connections. As the power grid has grown in complexity because of the energy transition and the increased flexibility in generation and consumption that has come with this, grid operators will now be given the opportunity to influence the consumption of controllable consumption devices.
What does Section 14a of the EnWG cover?
The core component of the amended clause relates to the German Federal Network Agency’s authority to make decisions (BNetzA – Bundesnetzagentur). The agency can oblige grid operators and customers to conclude agreements on the grid-oriented control of controllable consumption devices or grid connections with controllable consumption devices in return for a reduction in grid fees. This enables grid operators to control controllable consumption devices or controllable grid connections in a way that is beneficial to the grid. In return, grid customers receive lower grid fees.
The German Federal Network Agency, BNetzA, can also define what is deemed to be a controllable consumption device in this context. The Act simply makes a recommendation, under which such devices are understood to include, in particular, private charging points for electric vehicles, heat pumps, systems that produce cooling or systems for the storage of electrical energy and night storage heaters.
How can consumption be controlled in future?
In future, grid-oriented control can be performed in three different ways under Section 14a of the EnWG: via economic incentives, via limitation of grid connection power and via direct control of individual consumption devices.
As an economic incentive, grid operators and grid customers can, for example, agree on a variable grid fee based on the time of day.
When limiting the grid connection power, it is also possible to set a power limit for a grid connection, which the grid customer themselves must then observe.
When directly controlling individual consumption devices, the grid operator can selectively control individual systems for purposes of grid-oriented deployment.
In the newly amended Section 14a, the EnWG specifies that the BNetzA can additionally stipulate that the direct control of individual consumption devices may only be done after economic incentives have proved unsuccessful.
Smart meter gateway as the central interface
In addition to the actual instruments for controlling consumption, Section 14a of the EnWG also includes an explicit requirement for the use of the smart meter gateway (SMGW). While an SMGW is not necessary in order to implement the measures, the use of the smart meter gateway for control purposes is conversely mandated once the metering point has been equipped with a smart meter.
The newly amended Section 14a of the EnWG appears to be another major step towards generation-based consumption. It now all depends on what the exact specifications for the instrument will look like. Since the amended clause will enter into force on 1 January 2023, the BNetzA will likely start preparing the initial specifications this year.
Section 14a can have far-reaching consequences for many stakeholders and really stir up the market. Besides the fact that consumption devices must be made controllable (that is, through the rollout of smart meters), the grid-oriented control by grid operators must be managed and monitored with the aid of software, and price signals must be transmitted flexibly and promptly to customers and markets.
Submetering will also take on a much larger role since smart energy management behind the metering point is essential when the grid connection power is limited.
It is hard to predict when we will see real changes in our weekend routine and, for example, stop switching on the dishwasher, washing machine and robot vacuum cleaner at the same time. However, it would now seem to be a question of when, not if.
We look forward to learning about the specifications from the BNetzA and implementing the forthcoming requirements in partnership with our customers.
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