An exceptionally good water supply and wind peaks combined with low consumption during the night hours were the preconditions for a record, which TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO), registered between 10:30 and 10:45pm on 15 June 2020: A total of 3,943MW of electricity flowed abroad via the APG transmission grid during this quarter of an hour, more than ever before in history. Also in a European perspective, this capacity of nearly 4,000MW is considerable, as it represents about half of the Austrian peak consumption during the summer or almost twice the generation capacity of all Austrian Danube power plants.
“This figure marks a historic peak. Even though it is only a snapshot, it shows how volatile and unpredictable the new world of electricity and energy is,” comments Thomas Karall, CFO of APG. Before an import or export can be processed via APG’s transmission infrastructure, a detailed analysis of the expected electricity flows is required. Often, renewable production plants in Europe (including Austria) must be throttled due to insufficient grid capacities. “This underlines the particular importance of grid expansion and development projects for the success of the energy transition – because every MWh produced from renewables that is not used is a terrible loss,” notes Karall.
The all-time high clearly indicates how sensitive electricity management has become. While in the past few days generation surpluses in Austria had to be partially curtailed, only a few weeks earlier high imports and the start-up of conventional power plants had been necessary due to low winds and low water levels in the hydropower plants. Thomas Karall expects this situation to remain the same for the near future: “In certain situations generation from renewables has to be curtailed or conventional thermal power stations have to be powered up. This will be necessary at least until we dispose of an appropriate grid infrastructure with sufficient capacity and an adequate storage infrastructure.”