Germany’s New Energy Regulations Ease Concerns, Impact on Consumers Explored

Germany's New Energy Regulations Ease Concerns, Impact on Consumers Explored

About a year ago, there was considerable buzz when the plans by Germany’s Federal Network Agency to regulate wallboxes and heat pumps by compulsion came to light. This sparked concerns among automakers about the potential impact on electric car sales if customers faced disruptions in charging.

Meanwhile, electricity providers worried that network operators might opt to limit consumers rather than expanding the networks. The recent release of regulations seems to have left the power sector content. However, the key question remains: do these regulations sit well with consumers, and how will they be implemented from a technical standpoint?

These regulations, rooted in Paragraph 14a of the Energy Industry Act (EnWG), mark a milestone achieved by the energy industry in pursuing their long-standing goal. As early as 2017, they had pitched plans for what they termed “peak smoothing.”

Yet, the Controllable Consumer Devices Act (SteuVerG) proposed by the prior government was shelved. It wasn’t until the spring of 2022, under the coalition government, that the sole responsibility for managing peak smoothing was handed over to the Federal Network Agency.

Contrary to the recent sensational title in Bild-Zeitung claiming “New Control Law: Government to Ration Our Electricity,” these regulations aim to prevent network operators from outright rejecting the installation of wallboxes or heat pumps due to potential network strain from multiple consumers.

In return, these operators now have the option to limit these consumers to a minimum capacity of 4.2 kilowatts (kW). Importantly, these regulations aren’t geared towards reducing electricity consumption due to possible generation constraints.

Compared to the draft released in November 2022, significant concessions have been made in favor of electricity consumers. The minimum capacity has been increased from 3.7 kW to 4.2 kW, ensuring more reliable operation, especially for three-phase wallboxes.

It’s also been emphasized not to fall below the minimum limit of 6 amperes per phase, allowing the charging process to continue even if control measures are initiated by the network operator, as detailed in the 88-page decision by the regulatory authority (PDF).

Furthermore, these regulations will now also apply to smaller heat pumps and battery storage units, although there might not be a clear technical need for it. The Federal Network Agency’s intention behind setting a common threshold was to reduce the implementation burden on all involved parties.

However, for larger heat pumps and air conditioning units with a connection power exceeding 11 kW, a higher minimum capacity might be mandated. According to the Federal Network Agency’s document in Annex 1 (PDF), a scaling factor of 0.4 is set. This implies that, for instance, a large heat pump of 100 kW would require a minimum capacity of 40 kW.

The specifications for connecting Energy Management Systems (EMS), which encompass charging management for facilities like underground parking, involve more intricate details.

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Mark Brannon
Tech journalist Mark Brannon explores the digital frontier, delivering engaging news and in-depth features on cutting-edge innovations and industry developments.