EU antitrust authorities are investigating whether limits placed by German grid operator TenneT on cross-border electricity transfers with Denmark breaches EU antitrust rules.
The European Commission announced on Monday (19 March) it has opened a formal investigation into German transmission system operator TenneT, a subsidiary of the Dutch government-owned operator of electrical grids.
“Energy should flow freely in Europe so that the electricity produced by a windmill in one country can reach the consumers in another,” Europe’s antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
“Our investigation into TenneT is part of our efforts to ensure that electricity grid operators do not unjustifiably restrict the free flow of electricity between member states, to the detriment of European energy consumers,” said Vestager, who is from Denmark.
If proven, the behaviour may breach EU antitrust rules, specifically on the abuse of a dominant market position, the Commission statement said, adding this would amount to discrimination against non-German electricity producers and to a segmentation of the EU Single Market for energy.
The EU executive “does not prejudge” the outcome of the investigation, the Commission added, saying it was engaged in “constructive discussions” with TenneT to address its concerns.
Part of a broader effort
The EU executive said the investigation into TenneT was part of an ongoing effort to “address the systematic limitation of cross border capacity on electricity interconnectors across the EU”.
The Commission tabled a revision of electricity market rules as part of its ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans‘ package of legislation, which is currently being discussed by the European Parliament and the 28 EU member states.
On 23 February, TennetT announced it planned to invest €28 billion in new infrastructure over the next 10 years. In Germany, where it owns 40% of high-voltage grids and spends the bigger part of investments, TenneT expects to complete two new offshore grid connections to wind farms in the North Sea in 2019.
TenneT is constructing two new offshore interconnectors, the NordLink subsea cable between Germany and Norway, to be ready in 2020, and the COBRAcable between the Netherlands and Denmark, to be ready in 2019.
In its annual report 2017, the Dutch-owned company posted strong revenue gains of 22.3% to €3.95 billion.
- European Commission: Statement on TenneT investigation (19 March)