Germany’s accelerated exit from nuclear energy has considerably increased the risk of power blackouts, the country’s energy-network regulator said Wednesday, calling on the industry to invest in new energy infrastructure to ensure security of supply.
The Federal Network Agency, known as the Bundesnetzagentur, said bringing forward the country’s planned gradual exit from all nuclear power to the end of 2022—which includes the immediate and permanent closure of eight reactors—requires using all available power-production reserves to help balance power demand and supply to stabilize grids.
The shift in energy policy came after the March nuclear accidents in Japan.
The Bundesnetzagentur’s president Matthias Kurth and the country’s power-transmission grid operators had warned the shutdown of nearly half of Germany’s 17 reactors—or around 8.4 gigawatts of generation capacity—could result in large-scale blackouts.
Grid stability could be at risk especially in winter months, when demand is particularly high, Mr. Kurth said.
Southern Germany, which had relied heavily on nuclear power and where industrial energy demand is higher than in the north, is particularly prone to grid instability and blackouts.
“The situation in winter remains manageable, but continues to be tense,” Mr. Kurth said.
He added that “extensive efforts” by power-transmission grid operators are required to avoid network failures, and thus power blackouts.
Still, Mr. Kurth said the situation remains manageable, because the regulator has identified several thermal-power plants that can be operated as reserve capacity to bridge supply bottlenecks.
The Bundesnetzagentur had considered keeping an idled nuclear power plant as reserve capacity, but decided against it and instead picked coal, gas and oil-fired generation capacity.