To reflect on the experiences from the corona pandemic and to present resulting conclusions for the Austrian (and European) energy future, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG held a press conference entitled “Electricity grids at the limit” (“Stromnetze am Limit”). Gerhard Christiner and Thomas Karall, CTO and CFO of APG respectively, are convinced that the future of secure electricity supply is being decided now. At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a significant drop in electricity consumption combined with a high level of renewable generation. This could actually be an ideal development for the energy industry, if it was not for the lack of efficient electricity grids.
Due to the inadequate infrastructure, the TSCNET shareholder was only able to cope with the situation by taking numerous emergency measures, on which Gerhard Christiner comments: “We have a massive problem. We are currently stabilising the electricity system by starting up gas-fired plants in Austria. This is as if we had a modern electric vehicle and had to install a petrol engine to help us driving. This is not only grotesque – it is also expensive. The ‘fuel bill’ already now amounts to around €100m this year. These are the costs we have incurred this year for starting and running the gas plants.” Christiner’s conclusion is therefore: “Without grid extension, renewable energy is pure lip service.”
APG calls for grid expansion to make the renewables and the energy transition a success (picture of Gerhard Christiner on the left and Thomas Karall: APG)
> See APG press release, in German (html)