VERBUND Energy Breakfast: Focus on supply reliability


The rising proportion of weather-dependent renewable energy sources in the generation mix is increasing the challenges for supply reliability. Grid management is becoming more complex, the flexibility of the system more important, and the need for guaranteed capacity is rising. At the VERBUND Energy Breakfast on September 14, Ulli Sima, City Councillor for the Environment and Wiener Stadtwerke (Vienna Municipal Works), Georg Rebernig, Managing Director of the Federal Environmental Agency, and Gerhard Christiner, Board Director of APG, along with VERBUND CEO Wolfgang Anzengruber, will discuss current developments and the strategic directions it will be necessary to take for supply reliability.

Energy systems are changing all over the world. The mega-trends of the energy revolution are not restricted to individual countries, but rather mutually influence and reinforce one another. The fundamental system change and its challenges are being very clearly manifested on the electricity market. The demands on system management are growing rapidly, analogous to the dynamics of the transformation.

Strengthen network infrastructure
Over the last few years, power grid operators such as Austrian Power Grid (APG) have more and more frequently had to take emergency measures to keep the grid stable. The main reason for this is that the expansion of the electricity network is not keeping up with the quick conversion of the power plant fleet in the direction of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar energy. "In light of the inadequate development status of the Austrian electricity transmission grid, emergency measures to stabilise the grid have actually become routine for the APG in the last few years. These include measures sich as restricting cross-border electricity trading activities, as well as intervening in the market-determined usage of the power plants – so-called re-dispatching," as Gerhard Christiner, Technical Board Director of APG, notes. "These measures are very cost-intensive. To date, in the current 2017 year, costs of already more than 200 million euros have been incurred under this heading."

In order to be equipped as well as possible for such situations in the future, there will need to be a stronger focus on electricity supply reliability. Strengthening domestic electricity generation and the grid and storage capacities, as well as an increased coordination of generation and consumption, are necessary responses to this.

"Without network expansion there can be no energy revolution", emphasises VERBUND CEO Wolfgang Anzengruber. "An expansion of the networks is imperative for guaranteeing the efficient integration of the growing proportion of volatile renewable generation." It will be crucial to speed up this process. "In order to quickly realise the grid expansion, the transmission network needs to be fully equated with road and rail as far as approval goes, meaning that public involvement, securing routes and raising awareness, followed by environmental impact assessment procedures, need to be treated in a nationally uniform manner for transmission network projects as well."

Gas power plants for supply reliability
"We currently rely on modern gas power plants in order to ensure a high degree of supply reliability. At the same time, we need to massively expand the capacity for renewable electricity generation in order to fulfil our climate protection obligations." Georg Rebernig, Managing Director of the Federal Environmental Agency, calls not only for further expansion of renewable energy and the improvement of energy efficiency, but also for a strong focus on investment and innovation. "Investments in the transmission and storage infrastructure, as well as innovations for example in the areas of demand side management, decentralisation and efficiency enhancement, will make a reliable electricity and power supply possible, even in a future without fossil energy sources."

"Gas power plants such as those of Wien Energie are making an indispensable contribution to Austria's supply reliability", acknowledges Ulli Sima, City Councillor for the Environment and Wiener Stadtwerke. To ensure that the power plants can continue to provide this essential contribution to securing the power supply, despite extremely difficult economic conditions, they will need adequate remuneration in the future for at least 5 years.

From electricity revolution to energy revolution

By replacing fossil energy sources with renewable electricity, for example in the area of space heating or even mobility, substantial CO2 savings can be achieved. "By converting car traffic to electromobility, the CO2 emissions could be reduced by up to 80%" according to Anzengruber. "On the basis of average usage and average driving performance, this would result in an additional electricity demand of about 9 TWh, or about 13% of the current overall demand in Austria." Can this increased demand for green electricity be met with domestic generation? Yes – the electricity strategy Empowering Austria, worked out by Oesterreichs Energie, envisions the renewable proportion of electricity generation being at 85% in 2030. This corresponds to additional electricity generation from renewable energy sources amounting to about 20 TWh, of which water, wind, and PV should each account for about a third.

Ingun Metelko Ingun Metelko

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