German Federal Court of Justice Bolsters New Era of Distributed Energy
Electricity meters have always been part of the standard power boxes in German homes. But the energy world is changing – becoming distributed and digital. This is reflected in the rise in home energy-producing systems, such as combined heat and power units, heat pumps and solar batteries. Installing a meter directly at the energy source, which ideally can also be read remotely, is an important step toward the new era of distributed energy.
Metering at the Source
LichtBlick allows remotely accessible meters to be directly integrated in its ‘ZuhauseKraftwerk,’ which is a type of home power plant that functions as a combined heat and power unit. The meters assess and transmit readings in 15-minute intervals. But this was not as easy as we had anticipated. Since 2011, the network operator of the energy company EWE has attempted to block us from connecting our ‘ZuhauseKraftwerke’ to their grid area. Their reasoning: The remote meter, which acts as the interface between the ‘ZuhauseKraftwerk’ and the grid, is not located at the standard “central meter location” and therefore installed at the wrong location. EWE Netz therefore insisted on an on-site reading approach and forced LichtBlick to install an additional and expensive 15-minute meter in the standard power boxes in customers’ homes.
Resounding Blow to Energy Transition Opponents
This was a situation we could not accept. After more than three years of litigation, the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has provided a groundbreaking ruling – in favor of LichtBlick and a distributed energy transition: in the future, meters that are digital, remotely readable and integrated at the power source will be permitted. In this way, energy-producing systems for consumers will become more affordable and can be more easily integrated into the electricity market.
Three-year Legal Battle Concluded
The recently published landmark decision (BGH EnVR 45/13) therefore marks the end of the years of litigation between LichtBlick and the northwest German company EWE Netz, which had received support from the very important industry association BDEW (the German Association of Energy and Water Industries) even though LichtBlick’s legal interpretation had already been corroborated by the agency for regulation of the electricity grids – the Federal Network Agency – in 2012. EWE Netz fought the decision up to the highest court – without success. “Now, innovative energy solutions for households and industry can no longer be blocked by network operators. The decision is a resounding blow to the energy transition opponents at the BDEW and network provider EWE,” explains Gero Lücking, Managing Director of Energy Management at LichtBlick.
Expensive Meters and Reading Processes Unnecessary in the Future
With this landmark decision, meters can now be more affordably integrated into distributed energy-producing systems. And this not a moment too soon, as the market continues to develop: Electric cars, solar batteries and combined heat and power units are becoming increasingly smarter. Today with integrated control units, which function as a kind of “mini-computer,” all of the necessary data can be collected and transmitted in real time. Expensive meters and reading processes are therefore quickly becoming obsolete. In the end, consumers most of all will benefit from the reduction in costs.