A good year ago, the electronics and IT association VDE, together with the German Gas and Water Association (DVGW), warned urgently about blackouts in the power grid in winter in view of an impending gas shortage and a possibly associated fan heater boom. But it didn’t turn out that bad. On the contrary: “The power supply was particularly reliable in Germany in 2022,” the VDE announced during the week. According to him, consumers only had to go without electricity for an average of 10.6 minutes last year. In 2021, customers had no electricity from the socket for an average of 12.1 minutes.
Power supply in Germany is one of the most reliable in the world
The figures come from the advance publication of the most important data from the new fault and availability statistics from the Network Technology/Network Operation Forum in the VDE (VDE FNN). Only in 2020 was the average power interruption duration, also known as non-availability, shorter than 2022, lasting 10.2 minutes. Overall, according to the association, the following still applies: “The power supply in Germany is one of the most reliable in the world.” Only South Korea has a better value in 2022, with an average of 9.1 minutes without electricity. The Netherlands follow in third place with 22.1 minutes. For comparison, consumers in China had to contend with an average of 823 minutes of “blackouts” in 2019.
“Extreme weather conditions occurred extremely rarely last year, meaning that the disruptions in the power supply caused by them only occurred to a limited extent,” explains the VDE. Corresponding disruptions caused by force majeure would anyway be factored out of the average power interruption duration and recorded separately. The unavailability due to such external influences amounted to an average of 3 minutes in 2022. 2021, on the other hand, was characterized by severe flooding in the west and southwest of Germany, such as the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley. The duration of power interruptions due to force majeure or extreme weather conditions was therefore 9.2 minutes. In general, every customer in this country is only affected by unavailability every four to five years on average.
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Efforts to maintain network and system security are increasing
The expansion of renewable energies had “no discernible impact on supply reliability” in 2022, reports the VDE. However, the number of situations “in which power grid operators had to intervene to ensure the priority” of solar and wind energy has increased. The responsible forum explains that system stability is a crucial basis for a safe and reliable power supply. As the energy system focuses more heavily on solar and wind power, network utilization is increasing. This also increases the effort required to maintain network and system security. At the same time, network expansion has been delayed, which is creating further challenges for operators.
In the future, “more intelligence and flexibility in the system” should provide a remedy, the association points to “controllable low-voltage consumption devices”. In addition, this can make network expansion more efficient and accelerate the energy, transport and heating transition. Experts attribute an important role in network restructuring to a flexible energy market with opportunities for citizens and companies to feed unlimited electricity from PV and wind systems into the grid, with dynamic tariffs coupled with intelligent electricity meters, virtual power plants and battery pooling, for example via electric vehicles and smart grids . The FNN disruption and availability statistics are based on voluntary information from network operators about incidents. The data represents around 75 percent of the German power grid and includes all voltage levels.
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