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More e-cars on Bonn's roads: Bonn-Netz does not see its power grid at its capacity limit

More e-cars on Bonn's roads : Bonn-Netz does not see its power grid at its capacity limit

The municipal utility subsidiary Bonn-Netz does not see its power grid at its capacity limit, with the exception of Beuel and Bad Godesberg. Partly because more and more electricity is being charged, the company is working with the University of Wuppertal on a future plan for grid expansion.

Cars and two-wheeled scooters with electric drives are increasingly on the roads in Bonn. According to a request from the city, 658 citizens of Bonn applied for a private registration for purely electric vehicles last year. In the previous year, there were 283, and in 2018 the vehicle registration authority recorded 157 vehicles.

Hybrid vehicles with both battery and fossil drive systems are more popular. Registration numbers increased from 1072 (in 2018), to 1505 (in 2019) and now 2414 last year. A similar trend with similar numbers can be observed for commercial registrations. However, considering the approximately 180,000 vehicles registered in Bonn, their share remains low.

The city does not want to speculate on the reasons for the increase in tax-privileged e-registrations. However, there are indications that the federal government's subsidies for e-vehicles, which are considerably more expensive to purchase, were at least not an obstacle in the Corona stimulus package.

The General-Anzeiger has followed up on experts' hints that the power grid of the public utility company could possibly reach its capacity limits due to this development. The municipal utility subsidiary Bonn-Netz stated: "The power grid is currently sufficiently dimensioned to cover the current need for expansion with charging stations and to meet the connection requests of end customers with home wallboxes. Wallboxes are used for fast charging of cars via an auxiliary connection with up to 22 kilowatts per hour (slightly less powerful than a whole house connection).

The Federal Network Agency, as the regulatory authority, attests to the stable performance of the Stadtwerke subsidiary: "Its network can even be classified as above-average in terms of reliability compared to other network operators. This is based on calculations by the Federal Network Agency, which are regularly carried out as part of the determination of a quality element."

Bonn-Netz managing director Theo Waerder, however, makes one reservation. "In Beuel and Bad Godesberg we took over the electricity grids from RWE in 2015, which are not yet as powerful everywhere as our other grids." These grids are more susceptible to power outages than other city districts. It is also possible that a wallbox might not be installed for every house there. "This can be due to the infrastructure in front of the house, but also to the house connection itself," Waerder said. However, SWB technicians would always advise interested parties on what needs to be done to install a wallbox. As far as the electricity grids in Beuel and Bad Godesberg are concerned, Bonn-Netz is investing millions to expand them more efficiently in the coming years.

According to the SWB subsidiary, electricity demand has fallen slightly in recent years. It cites energy savings by consumers as a reason, as well as increased self-generation via combined heat and power or photovoltaics. Even though no significant load shifts have been noticed so far due to private e-charging stations, SWB is working with a research group from the Chair of Electrical Power Supply Technology at the University of Wuppertal to better estimate the needs in the coming decades. "The knowledge gained from the investigations will serve as a basis for further grid development planning," said Waerder.

So far, the energy experts have not noticed any sudden jumps in load because consumers are all charging their cars at the e-charging station at the same time. To prevent this from happening in the future, the company wants to install more control devices in grid connections to be able to smooth out grid load peaks. By the end of last year, Bonn-Netz had installed 102 public charging points. This year, an expansion of another 70 normal and five fast charging points is planned.

Together with SWB Bus und Bahn, they are also thinking about how to organise a charging infrastructure for local buses. Furthermore, the goal is to have the entire bus fleet with more than 200 vehicles completely converted to e-drive by 2030.

Original text: Philipp Königs
Translation: Mareike Graepel