The member companies of FNB Gas operate a pipeline network with a total length of almost 40,000 kilometres for the supra-regional and cross-border gas transmission. It connects to other pipeline systems, large industrial customers, power plants and storage facilities.
The TSO pipelines, which have diameters of up to 140 centimetres, move large quantities of gas at pressures of up to 100 bar. The natural gas pipeline infrastructure also includes transit routes through Germany to neighbouring EU countries, and compressor stations located at intervals of 100 to 200 kilometres ensure that the pressure can be kept stable over these long distances. The 700 or so downstream distribution network operators ensure regional and local gas deliveries to end users.
(Obernhau compressor station operated by Gascade Gastransport GmbH)
Pipelines ensure gas transmission
The two types of network operator, transmission system operators (TSOs) and distribution system operators (DSOs), differ in terms of their function and, to a lesser extent, in their network characteristics. TSOs receive the gas at an entry point on the German border, which might be a cross-border interconnection point (IP) at Germany’s border with Poland or the Netherlands, for example. Here, the gas is fed into the German transmission system and moved through underground pipelines to the regions of consumption. From there, DSOs, municipal utilities and regional network operators move (distribute) the gas to the end users. Their pipelines tend to have lower wall thickness; they are generally operated at lower pressures and the grids are more interconnected. Local grids serving residential end users have pipes with diameters of sometimes less than 10 centimetres and are operated at pressures as low as 20 millibar at the service connections. Historical features of the German gas transmission system For historical reasons, the German gas transmission system differs structurally from other European pipeline networks. Network development in Germany was not primarily organised by the state; rather, the German grids were mostly built by the private sector and have grown together over decades. While Germany currently has 16 TSOs, there are seven in Austria, two in France and only one each in the Netherlands and the UK. Germany also has the most complex network structure in Europe, with almost 700 regional gas DSOs.