Hot Topic # 1 - Obligation to retrofit renewable energy plants with smart metering systems (§ 9 EEG 2021)

Smart meter - Intelligent metering systems for the energy transition. Most probably, there was not just one starting signal for the digitization of the energy turnaround. However, intelligent metering systems or smart meters are undeniably a central component of this digitization. Smart meters are intended to enable better feed-in management and to contribute to lowering electricity costs as well as to improved network utilization. With the German Renewable Energy Law – EEG 2021 (§ 9), the obligation to retrofit certain generation plants came into force at the beginning of the year. Our experts will inform you about some aspects regarding the retrofitting obligation of renewable energy plants.

Question:  What is a smart metering system and how does it work?
Answer: An intelligent metering system consists of a modern metering device and a so-called smart meter gateway. The modern measuring device takes over the measurement of the data, while the smart meter gateway acts as a communication unit and thus enables the transmission of consumption values, real-time monitoring as well as the monitoring and operational management of the plant.

Question: When do generation plants have to be retrofitted with such a smart metering system?
Answer: The basic prerequisite for a nationwide rollout is first of all a so-called market availability declaration ("Marktverfügbarkeitserklärung") from the Federal Office for Information Security ("BSI"). So far, such a declaration has only been issued for metering points of low-voltage end consumers with an annual consumption of 100,000 kWh or less. For generation plants however, a market availability declaration is expected for the first quarter of 2021.

Question: Which plants are to be equipped with a smart metering system?
Answer: A distinction must be made here between existing plants with a commissioning date prior to January 1, 2021 and plants commissioned after January 1, 2021 (under the validity of the EEG 2021). Old plants basically do not need any change, while for plants commissioned after January 1, 2021 a retrofitting obligation with an intelligent metering system basically applies from a certain plant size (over 25 KW) to enable remote controllability and retrieval of the actual feed-in by the grid operator.

Hot Topic # 2 - Reduction of the tender volume by the Federal Network Agency for onshore wind power (§ 28 (6) EEG 2021)

The EEG 2021 provides for a reduction of the tender quantity for onshore wind power in case a tender is undersubscribed. If the German regulator, the Federal Network Agency ("Bundesnetzagentur") assumes that the volume offered in a tender will not be reached, it must reduce the tender volume. This was precisely the case in past tenders. Mainly due to a lack of approvals, total volumes offered were below the capacity available in each case. Irrespective of whether the reduction of the tender volume is reasonable from an economic point of view with respect to the energy turnaround, our experts also briefly shed light on specific aspects of §28 (6) Renewable Energy Act 2021.

Question: When can the Federal Network Agency reduce the legally defined tender volume?
Answer: In the event of "imminent undersubscription": this is said to be the case if two conditions are cumulatively met: (1.) the previous tender was undersubscribed and (2.) the volume of new approvals and non-approved bids since then is in total smaller than the tender volume of the upcoming tender.

Question: To what amount would the tender volume be reduced?
Answer: To the sum of new approvals since the previous bid date plus bids not approved in the previous tender date.

Question: It is often stated in connection with the regulation that it could lead to uncertainty among market participants - Is this true?
Answer: If there was an undersubscription in the last tender, there is some uncertainty that the Federal Network Agency will reduce the bid quantity in the upcoming tender. If, on the other hand, there was no undersubscription at the last bid date, there is no threat of a reduction in quantity at the next tender.

Question: What is meant in this context by the fact that there is a possibility of making up for bid quantities that have not been signed?
Answer: This refers to the provision in Section 28 (3) Sentence 1 EEG 2021, according to which a catch-up of the "non-attributed" quantities begins from the year 2024 (for the "non-attributed" quantities in the respective third preceding calendar year). The catch-up is thus intended to compensate for the reduction in volumes, but the time period (i.e. third year after reduction) is often criticized as being too long.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.