Grid operators propose thousands of kilometres of new lines to meet green energy needs

(Clean Energy Wire, 5 Feb 2019) Germany's four transmission grid operators have published their proposal for the 2030 electricity grid, including some 1,600 kilometres of new power lines and updating another 2,900 km.

This comes with a price tag of 52 billion euros but the grid operators say their suggestions fit in with a world where Germany increases its renewable power production while conventional power plants are closed down. Most observers agreed with their view, highlighting that an economy largely fed by renewable power would require both new transmission lines and the use of innovative technologies to operate them flexibly.

Germany will need an additional 1,600 km of transmission lines and the refurbishment of another 2,900 km by 2030, according to recommendations by the four transmission grid operators. The first version of the “Grid Development Plan 2030” (NEP) by operators TenneT, TransnetBW, 50Hertz and Amprion did not come as a surprise to most observers from politics and industry, since a growing renewables roll-out and declining fossil electricity production were going to require more power transport.

Because the currently planned expansion of the power grid is lagging behind due to citizen protests and planning difficulties, the energy ministry introduced a power grid action plan in summer 2018 and wants to see the majority of grid connections approved by 2021, the minister said in September.

The new NEP details the need for more electricity transport across Germany, and in particular from the windy north to the power-hungry south by taking into account scenarios for future renewable growth and the decline of conventional power production. While the four grid operators were not able to incorporate the recommendations for a coal exit timetable by the coal commission in the first version of the NEP, their scenarios B (moderate energy transition) and C (smallest conventional power plant fleet, more renewables, storage and sector coupling) are already calculating with a coal plant fleet that is similar to the commission’s suggestion. They say, as a central project, two more direct current underground cables going from north to south with a length of 1,160 kilometres, will be needed. The costs for the grid expansion according to these suggestions would be 52 billion euros, up from 35 billion euros in the estimates two years ago.

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Clean Energy Wire, 5 Feb 2019: Grid operators propose thousands of kilometres of new lines to meet green energy needs