Stat­u­a­to­ry instal­la­tion of smart meters – yes or no? Cor­rect­ly inter­pret­ing Ger­man legislation

There are still major reg­u­la­to­ry uncer­tain­ties regard­ing smart meter­ing sys­tems. In the­o­ry, the inter­im mod­el for mar­ket com­mu­ni­ca­tion took effect for smart meter­ing sys­tems in Octo­ber 2017. But the tech­ni­cal require­ments for smart meter gate­ways are not final, and no tar­get mod­el has been final­ized for the so called “wheel com­mu­ni­ca­tion”. After all: It’s crys­tal-clear in which cas­es a smart meter gate­way has to be installed. Right? The Meter­ing Point Oper­a­tions Act (MsbG) and Ener­gy Indus­try Act (EnWG) leave plen­ty of room for inter­pre­ta­tion. Kiwigrid and the envi­aM Group have pro­vid­ed answers to the most impor­tant questions.

As a gen­er­al rule, the fol­low­ing applies: Instal­la­tion of a smart meter gate­way at a meter­ing point becomes manda­to­ry based on the annu­al con­sump­tion, the installed pow­er gen­er­a­tion capac­i­ty or the pos­si­bil­i­ty to con­trol con­sumer devices for so called “net­work flex­i­bil­i­ty” pur­pos­es. All meter­ing points of con­sumers with an annu­al pow­er con­sump­tion of over 6,000 kilo­watt hours or a con­trol­lable con­sumer device in accor­dance with para­graph 14a of the Fed­er­al Ener­gy Indus­try Act must be equipped with a smart meter­ing sys­tem. All gen­er­at­ing plants with an installed capac­i­ty exceed­ing sev­en kilo­watts fall under this manda­to­ry instal­la­tion spec­i­fi­ca­tion. But what exact­ly do these require­ments – “6,000 kWh”, “para­graph 14a” and “pow­er capac­i­ty 7 kW” – mean? When is a bat­tery stor­age device a “sys­tem” accord­ing to para­graph 14a of the Fed­er­al Ener­gy Indus­try Act? Does instal­la­tion become manda­to­ry when the aver­age con­sump­tion reach­es 5,998 kWh or the pow­er gen­er­a­tion capac­i­ty is 6.98 kW?

Para­graph 14a of the Fed­er­al Ener­gy Indus­try Act con­sid­ers bat­tery stor­age devices, elec­tric vehi­cles, heat pumps and night stor­age heat­ing to be “con­trol­lable con­sumer devices,” for exam­ple. But this begs the ques­tion of whether instal­la­tion becomes manda­to­ry for all these sys­tem types with­out excep­tion. For exam­ple, are there any pow­er gen­er­a­tion capac­i­ty lim­its? Tho­ralf Ehn­ert, Head of Prod­uct Development/Management at envi­aM, explains: “Manda­to­ry instal­la­tion for all para­graph 14a sys­tems does not nec­es­sar­i­ly apply to all heat pumps, EV charg­ing sta­tions or bat­tery stor­age devices. Instead, this is an indi­vid­ual deci­sion that takes eco­nom­ic fac­tors into con­sid­er­a­tion, along with the ques­tion of whether it is at all pos­si­ble to inter­vene with the con­trol in order to reduce the net­work load. There are no pow­er gen­er­a­tion capac­i­ty limits.”

Anoth­er exam­ple: A renew­able ener­gy sys­tem has a pow­er gen­er­a­tion capac­i­ty of 6.96 kWp. Is this val­ue round­ed up? “Para­graph 29 of the Fed­er­al Meter­ing Point Oper­a­tions Act (MsbG) is very clear on this: no round­ing. The exact installed per­for­mance of the gen­er­at­ing plant applies. If the val­ue exceeds sev­en kilo­watts, instal­la­tion becomes manda­to­ry,” Ehn­ert explains.

Annu­al con­sump­tion is a lit­tle more com­plex, despite the fact that leg­is­la­ture has reached a rel­a­tive­ly clear agree­ment: The aver­age of the past three annu­al con­sump­tion val­ues applies. If this val­ue exceeds 6,000 kWh, instal­la­tion becomes manda­to­ry. The true dif­fi­cul­ty lies in val­i­dat­ing these val­ues. “Of course, the aver­age val­ue may include an esti­mate of the meter­ing point oper­a­tor or an incor­rect num­ber pro­vid­ed by the cus­tomer. Gen­er­al­ly, how­ev­er, many meter­ing point oper­a­tors car­ry out check read­ings. With the 3‑year aver­age val­ue, leg­is­la­ture seeks to ensure that con­sump­tion points can be account­ed for cor­rect­ly, pre­vent­ing fre­quent replace­ments,” Tho­ralf Ehn­ert states. What about new sys­tems? “If the build­ing is new and three val­ues are not avail­able yet, an assess­ment based on the stan­dard load pro­file of the con­sumer or com­pa­ra­ble con­sumer groups is used as a basis,” says Ehnert.

Leg­is­la­ture clear­ly indi­cates that small, pri­vate­ly oper­at­ed sys­tems such as heat pumps, charg­ing sta­tions for elec­tric vehi­cles or PV sys­tems in con­junc­tion with bat­tery stor­age devices should also make a major con­tri­bu­tion to the ener­gy tran­si­tion. The pre­vi­ous for­mu­la­tion in para­graph 14a of Ener­gy Indus­try Act has already been changed from “inter­rupt­ible” to “con­trol­lable” devices. These con­trol­lable devices also include elec­tric vehi­cles. Many oth­er aspects are not yet defined – just one of the rea­sons why con­crete reg­u­la­tions and pro­vi­sions are to fol­low. An incen­tive sys­tem for net­work flex­i­bil­i­ty and tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions are expect­ed to be included.

Para­graph 14a of EnWG con­tains the pow­er to issue statu­to­ry instru­ments as well as a ref­er­ence to the sim­pli­fied leg­isla­tive process by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. We look for­ward to the con­tent. We see major poten­tial for our cus­tomers to make a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to a sus­tain­able ener­gy sys­tem. It is impor­tant to make adapt­ing one’s own ener­gy needs to exter­nal spec­i­fi­ca­tions and pro­vid­ing renew­able ener­gies worth­while for pri­vate house­holds and small busi­ness cus­tomers. In total, the ener­gy tran­si­tion must not bring about addi­tion­al costs,” Tho­ralf Ehn­ert concludes.

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