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Security of supply and network stability

Our goal – to build and operate a sustainable and efficient infrastructure for the people in the region.

  • 80% of electricity from renewable sources in the EWE NETZ grid
  • EUR 70 million invested in broadband upgrades in 2015

As a regional infrastructure service provider, we strive to provide our customers with reliable services. As a result of our geographic location, we are aware of the particular challenges of decentralised generation structures and in the integration of renewables in the network infrastructure. By systematically linking the fields of energy, telecommunications, and information technology, we are able to create a stable basis for the intelligent energy systems of the future.

One key benchmark for gauging security of supply and grid stability is disruptions to the electricity supply in minutes per customer and year due to unplanned disruptions in the German low-voltage and medium-voltage grids. The average disruption of supply amounted to 15.3 minutes in 2015. At 6.3 minutes, the disruptions to the electricity supply on the EWE grid (EWE NETZ, wesernetz Bremen and wesernetz Bremerhaven) were far below average in 2015. Our aim for 2020 is to continue to keep disruptions to supply below the national average. 

Security of supply thanks to natural gas infrastructure 

Natural gas storage contributes to security of supply by covering the demand for natural gas during failures in supply. With its portfolio of 38 underground gas storage facilities, EWE is one of the biggest storage facility operators in the European natural gas market. The usable natural gas stored by EWE is sufficient to supply a city with over a million inhabitants for a year. The natural gas is stored in underground chambers, which are built into naturally occurring salt domes in accordance with strict environmental and safety criteria.

High-speed Internet: Ongoing broadband upgrades

EWE is a key player driving the expansion of broadband networks in north-western Germany: In over 440 locations, we ensure that as many people, companies and institutions as possible have fast Internet access.

Since 2013, over 5,800 serving area interfaces with fibre optics have been integrated into the network; over half of these are equipped with additional vectoring technology to provide speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s. The expansion of the broadband network is financed to a large degree by internal investments. In addition, we also draw on European funding, develop regional partnerships, and expand on our cooperation with municipalities and local authorities. In 2015, we invested around EUR 70 million into the expansion of the broadband network. This corresponds to an increase of 13% on the previous year.

Smart grids 

Throughout Germany, the highest proportion of electricity from renewables is generated in Lower Saxony. In the EWE NETZ grids, the proportion of electricity from renewables is already at 75%. In order to integrate the renewables more effectively from both a technical and economic point of view, EWE is gradually turning its electricity grid into a smart grid. The construction of more than 300 variable distribution transformers in 2015, for example, enables automatic voltage control, which means the existing grid infrastructure can be managed in a much more efficient way.

The 5% approach: EWE concept successful and recognised

In terms of the smart grid of the future, what is known as the ‘5% approach’ offers an alternative to the physical expansion of electricity grids: According to calculations, twice as much decentralised generation capacity could be fed into the EWE grid if grid operators were permitted to curb annual electricity generation from these systems by up to 5%. This would prevent bottlenecks.

EWE NETZ tested the 5% approach in 2014/15 as part of a field test in the Jever/Wittmund area, equipping eleven power generation systems and all distribution stations with remote control technology for high-resolution monitoring and controlling. The government has recognised the efficacy of the Oldenburg concept and introduced a 3% peak cap for wind energy and photovoltaic systems as part of the German Energy Management Act

Guaranteeing network stability 

In order to identify weak points in the grid, which could lead to disruptions, Group subsidiary wesernetz Bremen conducts cable diagnoses as a precaution. Around 25% of the cables in the wesernetz grid had already been tested for abnormalities. As a result of increasing automation in operation, more and more faults caused by switching measures will be able to be resolved directly by the grid control centre.

Since 2015, the whole EWE grid has been able to draw on a well-structured crisis and emergency management system. Simulations take place several times a year. The simulations test key communication mechanisms, such as the proper functioning of the chain of notification, which are crucial in the event of disruptions

Overview: Our grids

  • Our electricity grid covers 92,800 km in the Ems-Weser-Elbe and Bremen regions.
  • With our 70,700 km gas network, we supply customers in our German regions, in the Turkish cities of Bursa and Kayseri, and in areas of southern and western Poland.
  • At 38,000 km, our telecoms network is one of the largest, highest-capacity networks in Germany. It comprises 15,200 km of copper cable and 22,800 km of fibre-optic cable.

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