The message is clear. It is in red letters at the top of the app, with a warning symbol next to it: "Please help!" demands the mobile phone program "StromGedacht" from the network operator TransnetBW. The app is intended to inform consumers about the stability of the power grid in Baden-Württemberg. And today is not good.
The app has only been around for a few weeks and so far the status has always been green and read "Power secured". Today, Wednesday, the bar has been yellow since 12:00 a.m. and it will switch to red alert mode for an hour at 2:00 p.m. Since midnight, the network operator has been using the app to bring forward power consumption. It is better to use electrical household appliances now and charge batteries so that they are not needed between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Because from then on, the red phase applies: "Reduce consumption". Household appliances should be switched off, other devices should be operated in battery mode if possible. Because the network is getting tight. The operator himself speaks in the app of a "tense situation in the power grid".
According to TransnetBW, this occurs because the network for transporting electricity from north to south is not yet sufficiently developed. A relatively large amount of wind power is generated in the north, after a dark doldrums in the past few days had caused small amounts of electricity from renewable sources. But in the south of the republic it doesn't arrive. "Triggers are insufficient transport capacities in the electricity transmission network," says a TransnetBW spokeswoman.
In order to ensure a stable network despite this, the so-called redispatch is necessary. "With redispatch, generation is normally curtailed in the north and compensated for by additional generation in the south," explains the spokeswoman. "In the north it's usually wind farms and in the south it's usually coal-fired."
But the power plant capacities in southern Germany are not sufficient to compensate. Between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., there will be a situation in Baden-Württemberg in which large amounts of electricity will have to be imported from Switzerland. The requirement is estimated at 700 megawatts. "The order to Switzerland had become necessary because some reserve power plants in the TransnetBW control area were not available," says the German network operator.
TransnetBW emphasizes that the situation was recognized and action taken in good time, so there is no risk of a power failure in Baden-Württemberg. But importing from Switzerland is expensive. "The more consumption is reduced, the less foreign redispatch potential has to be used," said the spokeswoman. "As a rule, this not only saves money, but also CO2." In the end, all electricity consumers have to pay the balancing amount from Switzerland, because the costs for the redispatch are passed on via the grid fees.
With the warning level in the app, the company wants to reduce the costs that arise from switching to renewable energies without the necessary grid expansion. Consumers should now compensate for these mistakes in the conversion of the German power supply by adjusting their consumption.
Under the heading "Why does this app exist", the app says: "The increasing proportion of weather-dependent energies in power generation, such as wind and solar energy, as well as current geopolitical developments pose major challenges to securing the power supply."
Because private households account for around a quarter of consumption, "we are all called upon" to stabilize the power grid. The "StromGedacht" app therefore provides timely information about tense situations. "You too can help keep the grid stable by adapting your power consumption to the grid situation."
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