Trend opinion
Grid charges rise due to grid expansion as a result of the increasing use of renewable energy (green electricity use). New power lines are expensive. So the electricity price also rises.

The fact is that according to the annual report of the German Federal Network Agency, the grid charges in 2011 were more than 20 percent lower than in 2006. Electricity suppliers have decreased investment in the grids by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2003. Investment has only been rising again since 2004 and the grid investment backlog is only slowly being resolved. However, the grid operators have not yet again reached the investment level of 1993.

1. Need to catch regarding grid expansion drives up costs
The costs of investment in power grids are often presented in the media solely as the follow-on costs of expanding renewable energy. This causal relationship is, however, not tenable, if one examines investment in power grids in recent years (1991 – 2011). During the liberalisation of the electricity market in 1998, investment in power grids fell significantly. While about € 4 billion was invested in the power grid in 1993, investment then declined continually and in 2003 hit a low point of € 1.7 billion. Only then did the electricity suppliers and grid operators again invest more in the power grids. However, at about € 3.6 billion in 2011 too investment remained below the level of 1993.

Investment electricity gridsThe consequence of the low level of investment in power grids is a considerable modernisation and investment backlog. No clear separation is possible between the grid expansion costs induced by the energy turnaround and the costs arising from missed opportunities in the past. At the same time, explaining rising grid investment costs solely through the expansion of renewable energy is a very one-sided way of looking at matters.

2. Grid charges fall despite expansion of grids and increase in green electricity

Despite the expansion of renewable energy and power grids, grid charges have fallen over recent years. For domestic customers, grid charges nonetheless fell by 20 percent between 2006 and 2011. While the grid charges for domestic customers in 2006 were, according to the Federal Network Agency, still 7.3 cents per kWh, in 2011 they stood at only 5.8 cents per kWh. Grid charges also declined between 2006 and 2011 for commercial and industrial customers. The Federal Network Agency sees an important reason for the lower grid charges in the regulation of grids introduced in 2005.

Grid charges domestic-customers 

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