MUNICH- Germany has arranged power capacity back-up for the coming winter and is equipped to deal with increased demand from its French neighbour should more nuclear outages occur there, its energy regulator said on Tuesday. “There are talks about what can be done after we had difficult situations on the cross-border links with France last winter, but the situation was under control,” Jochen Homann, the president of the Bundesnetzagentur agency, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference. “We coped with an unprecedented situation, which makes me confident that we can cope again,” he added. There is concern in the power industry that French nuclear power supply could be squeezed again in coming months after tight periods in the winter of 2016/17 when a large number of reactors were shut for extensive safety checks.
France had its lowest nuclear capacity in 10 years and wholesale market prices shot up in the interlinked region. Germany acts as a default exporter in the region, due to the size of its power generation sector, and with its renewable capacity growing steadily under environmental drives. French nuclear regulator ASN recently made fresh calls on utility EDF to review some components of its reactors in ongoing probes as cooler weather approaches. Homann said that the intermittency of renewables had created additional risks to the stability of German networks during calm and overcast conditions in January and February, when renewable production was low. As power cannot be easily stored to a large degree, grids have to be carefully balanced by engineers. “The networks were elastic enough to hold up to the additional stress,” he said. The Bundesnetzagentur has required that the size of a winter power reserve, paid for by consumers, have been increased. The Bonn-based agency said earlier this year it will contract 10,400 megawatts (MW) of reserves for the coming winter, nearly double the 5,400 MW last winter, when a maximum of 3,800 MW was called upon on one occasion. Under the reserve plans, otherwise idle plants are kept available to produce against a fee if needed.