2022-10-11 press release

Power supply in Germany: 2021 marked by extreme flooding

VDE FNN publishes new grid disruption and availability statistics for 2021. German electricity consumers enjoyed a reliable power supply last year despite extreme weather events.

Press Officer
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(Berlin, October 11, 2022) Germany’s power supply is operating to a high standard: over the whole of 2021, consumers were forced to live without electricity for an average of just 12.1 minutes. This is shown by the new grid disruption and availability statistics issued by VDE’s Forum Network Technology/Network Operation (VDE FNN). Even so, the power interruption time caused solely by force majeure and/or extreme weather conditions increased significantly from 2.3 minutes in 2020 to 9.2 minutes in 2021. This was due to the natural disaster in west and southwest Germany last summer.

The catastrophic flooding left more than 100,000 residents of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate temporarily without electricity. By joining forces, a large number of grid operators were able to establish a provisional power supply after about a week. More than 5,400 local technical facilities, including substations and cable distribution cabinets, had to be tested before power could be restored systematically.

German power supply remains safe and reliable

Compared to the power supply in other countries, Germany’s system remains one of the most dependable. “After South Korea, Germany has one of the most reliable power grids in the world. The statistics show that three out of four German customers remained wholly unaffected by power outages last year. Even though there is still a great deal of switching and construction activity being performed on the grid, our supply is secure. This shows that the grid operators have been successful in optimizing the processes involved,” says Heike Kerber, Managing Director of VDE FNN.

For industrial and commercial customers with highly sensitive devices and systems, short-term voltage drops are particularly concerning. If protection parameters on their systems are missing or set incorrectly, short-term voltage drops can cause malfunctions or system shutdowns. They have therefore been evaluated separately since 2004. The number of short-circuit faults identified for 2021 was within the normal range of random fluctuation.

The expansion of renewable energy sources continued to have no discernible impact on the quality of supply in 2021. There was, however, an increase in the number of situations where electricity grid operators had to intervene to ensure that renewable energy was prioritized. As a result, the effort required to maintain grid and system reliability continues to increase.

As in previous years, forest fires had only a marginal impact – if any at all – on service interruptions and their duration.

VDE FNN grid disruption and availability statistics

The VDE FNN grid disruption and availability statistics show the evolution of the quality of Germany’s power supply. The statistics, which are published annually, are based on information on outages and electricity availability provided voluntarily by grid operators. The data represents around 75 percent of the German power grid and covers all voltage levels. Further information on the most important key figures included in the statistics are available on the VDE FNN website (in German). The detailed VDE FNN grid disruption and availability statistics for 2021 will be available in the VDE Shop from November 2022.

About VDE FNN 

The Network Technology and Operation Forum within VDE (VDE FNN) develops the electricity grids with foresight. The aim is to ensure reliable system operation at all times with 100 percent renewable energies. VDE FNN makes innovative technologies practicable and provides answers to the grid technology challenges of tomorrow. Here, various specialist groups with different interests work together on solutions. Its members are over 480 manufacturers, grid operators, suppliers, system operators, authorities, and scientific institutions. 

For more information, visit www.vde.com/fnn

About VDE

VDE, one of the largest technology organizations in Europe, has been regarded as a synonym for innovation and technological progress for more than 130 years. VDE is the only organization in the world that combines science, standardization, testing, certification, and application consulting under one umbrella. The VDE mark has been synonymous with the highest safety standards and consumer protection for more than 100 years. 

Our passion is the advancement of technology, the next generation of engineers and technologists, and lifelong learning and career development “on the job”. Within the VDE network more than 2,000 employees at over 60 locations worldwide, more than 100,000 honorary experts, and around 1,500 companies are dedicated to ensuring a future worth living: networked, digital, electrical.  
Shaping the e-dialistic future. 

The VDE (VDE Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies) is headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. For more information, visit www.vde.com