Capacity reserve, network reserve, security readiness

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The terms capacity reserve , network reserve and security readiness describe three concepts from the law for the further development of the electricity market (Electricity Market Act) that came into force on July 30, 2016 . These terms are often confused and mixed up in the media and occasionally also by the official side.

Network reserve

The network reserve is regulated in Section 13d EnWG and in the Network Reserve Ordinance. The need for electrical energy is usually highest in winter . In northern Germany, more energy can be produced by wind power plants due to the weather. Occasionally the existing transmission network is not sufficient to transport all the electricity that can be produced from the north to the south. Then wind turbines will be switched off and / or power plants shut down in the north; in the south, power plants are being ramped up ( redispatching ). Energy companies have power plants in cold reserve ; For years, they have demanded state funds to keep certain power plants in cold reserve and not to shut them down for good ( capacity market ).

Capacity reserve

The capacity reserve is regulated in Section 13e EnWG and in the Capacity Reserve Ordinance. Power plants in the capacity reserve serve to compensate for extreme situations on the electricity market . If, unpredictably, the demand on the electricity market cannot be met by the supply, power plants from the capacity reserve must be activated in order to provide sufficient energy for a short time. These power plants are also usually idle and are only activated when required. An important prerequisite for inclusion in the capacity reserve is a start-up time of less than 12 hours, which is why most coal-fired power plants are not suitable for the capacity reserve. The capacity reserve is not used to compensate for peak loads , but only to compensate for fluctuations in supply.

According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy , the reserve is used to “absorb unforeseeable and extraordinary extreme situations on the market.” Power plants can participate in both the capacity reserve and the network reserve.

In February 2020, the following blocks (all natural gas) received a bid for 1,056 megawatts in a tender from the transmission system operators . The reserve power is to be provided for two years from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2022. The power plant operators receive 68,000 euros per megawatt and year for this.

Security readiness

In the course of the decommissioning of coal-fired power plants , the decommissioned power plants should first be transferred to a so-called safety standby. During this security standby, the power plants are temporarily shut down and can only be reactivated in extreme situations. After 4 years, the security standby is over and the power plant is finally shut down. The following eight power plant units have been put on standby:

They make up 13% of the installed lignite capacity.

The power plants will continue to be financed by the electricity customer through the network charges while they are on standby , initially with a total of 1.6 billion euros. In October 2019, the last two blocks were transferred to security readiness. Up to this point in time, none of the temporarily closed units had been put into operation again.

Power plants on standby may only be activated if all other measures (network reserve, capacity reserve) fail.


From the Stadtwerke's point of view, the further financing of the decommissioned lignite power stations by the electricity customer represents a massive distortion of competition. In addition, lignite power stations can only be started up with a long lead time to provide base load, which is why they cannot be flexibly adapted to fluctuating electricity demand.

The security readiness was decided after pressure from the companies concerned, the unions IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie and Vereinte Dienstgewerkschaft (ver.di). The European Commission initiated proceedings (Article 108 (2 ) TFEU ) against Germany due to a possible violation of European state aid law . Due to the commitments made by Germany to dispel concerns, the European Commission has come to the conclusion that the state aid rules are compatible with European state aid law. Originally, a national climate protection contribution was to be introduced and lignite power plants, due to the fact that they emit a particularly large amount of CO 2 , pay a fee for electricity production in favor of more efficient gas-fired power plants.

In July 2014 Sigmar Gabriel rejected the concept of remuneration for dormant power plants (“What the capacity market cannot become is something like Hartz IV for power plants: don't work, but earn money”).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Text of the Network Reserve Ordinance
  2. ^ Text of the capacity reserve regulation
  3. BMWI, Strommarkt 2.0 - An electricity market for the energy transition
  4. Capacity reserve . In: February 28, 2020, accessed February 29, 2020 .
  5. Energy transition: Millions for unused coal-fired power plants . In: Spiegel Online . March 2, 2018 ( [accessed November 2, 2019]).
  6. DTS news agency: Expensive reserve power plants never had to be switched on. October 11, 2019, accessed on November 2, 2019 (German).
  7. September 14, 2015: Doubtful help
  8. OJ. L153 of June 15, 2018 , p. 143, section 1 para. 1
  9. OJ. L153 of June 15, 2018 , p. 143, Art. 1
  10., annoyance at the open pit edge , November 4, 2015
  11., Ökostrom: The dream of “Hartz IV” for power plants , July 28, 2014
  12. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Hartz IV from the Minister , November 25, 2015