How consumers bear the brunt of TSO conflict and possible solutions

GERMANY: The costs of balancing power used in connection with renewable energies are passed on to electricity customers as a part of the renewables levy.

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The savings in costs under a single centrally operating transmission system operator (TSO) could reduce the enormous costs of the renewable levy, says German energy regulator Bundesnetzagentur BNA, although it does not specify the size of the potential savings.

TSO Amprion, too, does not say what several hundred GWh of balancing power cost, merely stressing that the cost per MWh varies depending on when the electricity is procured.

Possible solutions

While electricity customers must put up with the inefficiency and the costs caused by the TSOs' separate operations for now, the BNA is still on the case. It says that the step taken on balancing power is a decent short-term fix, "but must by no means be the last".

In fact, it could be the preliminary move to further integration of the networks, it states, adding that one possibility could be creation of a single control zone.

It is also possible that a combined control of Germany's TSOs could then be expanded to include control of zones in neighbouring countries on an equal basis, "which would help towards creation of a single European network structure", the BNA says. This could be of benefit in integrating wind power physically onto the networks and to trading on the electricity markets across north-west Europe.

After the Dutch TSO Tennet's recent acquisition of German TSO Transpower, and the Belgian TSO Elia's purchase of 50Hertz, now under way, the BNA's vision is beginning to look like a realistic possibility.

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