BERLIN (Dow Jones) – A meeting with Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) failed to reach an agreement in the dispute over possible compulsory shutdowns of charging stations. Car manufacturers and power grid operators were invited, but also representatives of consumer protection and the electrical engineering industry, who have now postponed their talks. “It was an objective and comprehensive exchange,” declared Altmaier. But it has become clear that the dialogue “must also be deepened and continued”.
The occasion of the meeting was the demand of the energy industry for a so-called “top smoothing”. If there is a threat of overloading the network during times of high consumption, suppliers want to be able to prescribe forced charging breaks of up to two hours a day for owners of electric cars. Heat pumps and night storage heaters could also be turned off by remote control. This was envisaged in a ministerial draft for the so-called Taxable Consumption Equipment Act, which Altmaier surprisingly withdrew in mid-January after fierce criticism from the auto industry. The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) feared that the plans could hinder the market ramp-up for electromobility. As a result, Altmaier invited to a dialogue this Friday.
The Federal Association of Energy and Water Management (BDEW) has now called for “speeding up in order to come to a legal regulation in this legislative period”. BDEW boss Kerstin Andreae showed understanding that private charging stations were needed quickly and that electric car drivers would also have to be sure that their batteries could always charge enough electricity. But the network operators also wanted to expand the electricity system as needed. “For this they need the instrument of peak smoothing. That is also in the interests of the electricity customers,” says Andreae.
Auto industry sees opportunities for a compromise
The municipal utilities even warn that in a few years’ time there could be considerable delays in connecting new charging stations in some network areas. “With top smoothing, three to four times more charging stations can be connected at short notice and integrated into a secure network operation,” emphasized Ingbert Liebing, the general manager of the Association of Municipal Companies (VKU).
The auto industry sees the window open to compromise. “Better than the previous draft, it can ensure that electromobility will be a success story in Germany,” VDA President Hildegard Mller told Dow Jones News. “I am optimistic that we can now find a joint and workable agreement that will support the ramp-up of electromobility and not endanger it.” Shutdowns are only allowed “in an absolute emergency”, emphasized Mller.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs estimates that with the increasing number of electric cars and heat pumps, millions of new producers and consumers will have to be integrated into the energy system in the coming years. Above all, the distribution networks must be intelligently controlled for this.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 19, 2021 10:16 ET (15:16 GMT)