What will the coming year bring?
New opportunities for a new year. The new year holds the prospect of new opportunities and challenges. And not just for each and every one of us personally, but also for the prevailing market conditions and thus for entire industries. So, today I’d like to present the most important innovations I think the energy industry can expect in the coming year. I have chosen to summarise three particularly exciting changes. However, some developments are still uncertain, and the specific course they will take is still entirely unclear. One thing is certain however: it will be an exciting year for the energy industry.
As consultants, the ever-changing market and new laws will make the coming year an exciting one too, as such upheaval will mean many more projects from our clients. Our task, of course, is to really get to grips with these issues and maintain our professional standing with our customers.
BSI announces roll-out of smart gateways for 2019
At long last, the roll-out of smart meters – intelligent, digital and Internet-capable electricity meters with a communication unit (gateway) – is finally approaching. The industry is poised in the starting blocks and energy companies are ready for the long-awaited roll-out. Many utilities have already created their first services and packages. The only missing pieces are to obtain gateway certification and pass the checks demanded by German federal authorities. After approximately 600 gateway penetration tests, a minimum of three systems from independent manufacturers must pass the security check of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). The resulting “market declaration” fires the starting gun on the official roll-out. The date currently scheduled by the BSI for this is 31 January 2019. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that there will be no delays.
Intelligent electricity meters are, without doubt, an exciting topic for the energy market, as they will bring transparency to current consumption data, for instance from households. This will make smart meters one of the fundamental components of Germany’s “energy transition”, enabling, among other things, the smart grid to be dynamically stabilised.
Omnibus Energy Act – solar energy plants: From 2019 less funding planned for large plants
At the beginning of November, the German Federal Cabinet approved the Omnibus Energy Act drafted by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi), thereby initiating parliamentary proceedings. The act specifically concerns photovoltaic systems on buildings with an output range of 40 to 750 kilowatt-peak. Such plants supply electricity to large company buildings or apartment blocks rather than detached or semi-detached houses. The act will reduce the feed-in tariff, and the degression rates and reference values will fall from 11.03 cents/kWh to 8.9 cents/kWh (as of 1 April 2019). According to industry figures, around half of the newly installed solar power systems each year will be affected by this planned reduction in subsidies.
Federal government aims to accelerate grid expansion with new law
The details of the Federal Ministry of Economics’ plans to expand power grids more rapidly as part of the energy transition are becoming increasingly firm. The new draft law will focus on simpler and accelerated approval procedures to construct and optimize power lines. It is intended to facilitate integration of the various planning steps. There are also improvements to monitoring, such as investigating possible delays. Grid operators who delay planning could face penalty payments of up to ten million euros with the new legislation.
These three developments will have a major impact on and change the energy sector in the coming year. I’m looking forward to the ensuing challenges. One thing is certain: the energy industry never gets boring.