Energy transition index: Germany needs smart meters and bidirectional charging

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When it comes to implementing the energy transition, Germany is still lagging behind the Scandinavian frontrunners. This emerges from the second report for the Energy Transition Readiness Index, which the British Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) published on Tuesday in cooperation with the energy management company Eaton. In order to achieve the German climate targets for 2030, the flexibility of the electricity market must therefore also be increased through decentralized technologies with which consumers can feed energy into the grid themselves.

As part of the study, REA is examining twelve European countries. On the chosen scale from one to five, on which five is the highest value, according to the new edition a three. France, Great Britain and Switzerland achieve the same result. Finland, Norway and Sweden, on the other hand, are each at the top with the record.

Germany has the largest electricity market among the comparable countries and also has the highest production volume of electricity from renewable energies in terawatt hours (TWh). Countries such as Norway and Switzerland, however, cover their needs better in percentage terms thanks to renewables. Due to the high demand for electricity in this country, their share of total consumption is only 41 percent. In Norway, for example, the demand is so low that it is even exceeded by the supply of wind, water and solar power.

With the recent reform of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), the Bundestag decided to increase the proportion of “green” electricity to 65 percent by 2030. According to the analysis, an additional 138 TWh must be produced using solar and wind energy in order for this to succeed which corresponds to an increase of 85 percent.

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According to the researchers, Germany urgently needs more resources in the future in order to increase the flexibility of the electricity market and thus achieve the goals of the energy transition. Electricity production from new energy sources and demand could sometimes fluctuate by the minute. The electricity systems should therefore be able to increase or decrease the output accordingly. Decentralized technologies played an increasingly important role in this.

According to the study, 17 percent of the population in this country currently have smart meters. Such intelligent electricity meters and the associated interfaces are considered key components for controlling and billing relevant decentralized flexibility options such as photovoltaic systems on the roof. Countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy and Spain, on the other hand, already achieve a penetration rate of over 97 percent. The use of a smart meter gateway in Germany is currently prescribed for households with an annual electricity consumption of over 6000 kWh, which on average should be achieved with five or more people.

In the future, electric cars could also feed electricity from their drive batteries back into the public grid. Although politics in this country is promoting electromobility, the share of electric vehicles has so far only been 0.6 percent and the corresponding battery-powered cars for new registrations no more than around seven percent. In addition, the basis for bidirectional charging options such as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) would first have to be created.

The authors have found out that there is still great social consensus in favor of the energy transition in the Federal Republic of Germany. However, challenges such as the lack of or unclear regulatory requirements for smart meters, for example, continued to lead to delays. In addition, smaller players who want to drive the energy transition with innovations would be disadvantaged in the energy market.

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