2011 electricity figures published by BDEW – Challenges for 2012:
Renewables’ growth increases pressure for action
Electricity consumption remained stable in 2011 – Electricity generation decreased / Müller: High utilisation of market premium is pleasant but not surprising
In 2011, electricity consumption in Germany remained stable. Compared to the previous year, electricity generation slightly decreased. This was the result of first estimations of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft - BDEW) for the year 2011. The positive trend in terms of the development of renewable energies has continued during the past year: With a generation of approximately 8.5 billion kilowatt-hours from wind energy plants, December 2011 was the most successful month in terms of wind power since this electricity generation technology has been used in Germany. According to BDEW data for 2011, the share of renewable energies in electricity generation amounted to more than 20 percent. "Though the strong development of renewable energies is pleasing, it simultaneously increases the pressure for action with regard to grid development, acceptance of responsibility for the system and market integration of renewables. It is no longer sufficient to take only the quantitative success of development into consideration. Renewable energies must assume responsibility for the system. The market premium introduced at the beginning of this year is a first, right step", Hildegard Müller, Chairwoman of the BDEW General Executive Management Board underlined.
The good wind supply situation in December also showed some drawbacks for grid operation. While wind generation in the North of Germany was at a high level, system stability in the South of Germany was jeopardised. On 8 and 9 December 2011, for instance, Germany had to rely for the first time on capacities of Austrian reserve power stations to ensure security of supply. "As a result of strong wind supply in the North, fully utilised networks in the Centre, and generation congestion in the South of Germany, reserve capacities of Austrian gas and oil-fired power stations had to be used to be able to serve demand. This cannot be in the sustained interest of the energy turnaround. This example concretely shows the urgent need for rapid grid development in Germany ", Hildegard Müller declared.
According to estimations of BDEW, also the costs involved in the development of renewable energies will increase to more than 14 billion Euros in 2012 and have to be taken into account. Müller: "In future, a stronger response of renewable energies to market signals will be necessary not only under cost aspects. The principle 'produce and forget' – i.e. electricity generation whenever possible and not whenever needed - does not enable the target of a sustainable energy supply system based on renewables to be reached. The optional market premium introduced on 1st January can make a reasonable contribution to this end."
By means of the optional market premium, incentives for demand and market-oriented generation are integrated into the Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz - EEG). The operator of a plant for renewables-based electricity generation can decide on a monthly basis whether to have the electricity remunerated through the EEG or to sell it himself on the Energy Exchange. For January 2012, more operators of wind energy plants than ever before have announced to sell their renewables-based electricity now within the scope of the optional market premium directly on the Energy Exchange. "The high number of registrations for direct sales of wind power in January is very pleasing but not surprising. These figures on onshore wind energy plants are still within the range of expectations. According to calculations carried out prior to the EEG amendment, a sales quota of 40 percent had been expected, which is now fulfilled relatively exactly with 43 percent in January", the Chairwoman of BDEW’s General Executive Management Board declared.
"Besides, there can be no question now of excessive windfall profits in connection with the "management premium" which is part of the market premium. According to legal provisions, the management premium is rightly reduced step by step. Moreover, these costs which are now directly incurred by the plant operators in terms of marketing have been borne to date by transmission system operators. Naturally, this system is to create as well an incentive for sales; otherwise, all operators would opt for the EEG and not enter into the market. This is the aim and object of the market premium“, Müller said.
In addition, Müller underlined that BDEW carefully observed the market premium’s development und submitted proposals whenever necessary to avoid unintended additional costs. Eleven days after the introduction of this new market premium, it was however much too early to forecast the further development and to assess the measures adopted. It was necessary to make a detailed analysis of the costs incurred and wait for the experience and decisions of plant operators during the next few months of this year. The legislator had designed the system in a way so as to enable adjustments to be made in accordance with developments. Müller: "BDEW has always made clear that this system must be a learning system."
According to preliminary estimations for 2011, BDEW assumes that electricity consumption amounting to approximately 607 billion kilowatt-hours (billion kWh) remained stable (2010: 610 billion kWh). Compared to the preceding year, this means a likely slight decrease of about 0.5 percent. The sector association considers that this development is attributable to the good economic situation in Germany compared to other countries. Moreover, the not-so-hot summer and the mild winter 2011 had a restraining effect on consumption.
According to BDEW estimations, electricity generation decreased to 612 billion kWh (2010: 628). This means a reduction of about 2.5 percent. BDEW declared that this reduction was attributable to lower electricity demand due to weather conditions and to a decrease in electricity exports.