April 19, 2019 (11:05)

An updated plan for the development of electricity grids in Germany

The Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2019, an international professional conference, organized by the German government (federal ministries of economy, energy, and foreign affairs) which was held in Berlin on April 9-10, 2019, jointly with the Bundestag profile committee, presented an updated electric grids development plan in Germany.

The German operators of the 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT and TransnetBW grids reviewed the amount of investment required for the development of electricity grids and developed the alternative version of the National Energy Plan until 2030 (NEP 2030), which would increase investment by EUR 9 billion to EUR 61 billion. The reasons for the growth of financial resource needs are the greater demands for increasing the volume of reactive power compensation systems to 38.1-74.3 Giga-Volt Ampere, the number of high-voltage switchgears and its units, and the correction of the cost of high-voltage direct current lines (HVDC) in the view of the use of more advanced materials and technologies.

The new plan envisages to cover the demand that will occur after the closure of the NPP and can reach 25% -50%, to satisfy the 12 GW HVDC construction needs for the transportation of energy from RES (mainly wind farms) from the north to the centers of greatest demand in the south of Germany in all possible scenarios up to 2030. Also, the plan sets the need for at least 1600 km of new lines and upgrades to 2,800 km of existing power lines.

The paper draws on five scenarios (three in 2030, one in 2025 and 2035). The scenarios take into account the recently published recommendations of the government commission on decommissioning of coal-fired power plants (provided that the volume of coal generation will be reduced to 17 GW by 2030). All scenarios take into account the provisions of the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package, the EU requirements for cross-border electricity trade and the sharp increase in renewable energy production (65% by 2030).

After the closure of nuclear and coal power plants, Germany is expected to significantly reduce electricity exports, which at present is at least 50 TWh / year. Instead, dependence on the flexible schedule of interaction with neighboring countries will increase in order to cover the volatility of the generation of RES and due to the need to complete the construction of interconnecting power lines with the Scandinavian countries.

Under existing scenarios, the cost of developing electricity grids to offshore power stations (O-NEP 2030) will require an additional EUR 18 to 27 billion. The government plans to accelerate the expansion of the grid through the new law (NABEG), adopted by the Bundestag on April 5, 2019.

In the first quarter of 2019, a public discussion on the grid development plan (NEP 2030) was held, in which the companies received and processed over 900 amendments which increased compliance of the document with the commitments in the energy transformation, the Paris Climate Agreement and the requirements of local authorities regarding the new HVDC lines routes.

According to available information, the draft of updated plan was submitted to the Bundesnetzagentur Energy Regulator for reconsideration. Its approval is expected in the second half of 2019.

Consequently, the national operator of the German transmission system unveiled a plan for the development of the transmission system for 2020-2028, with the aim of conducting its public discussion and substantiating the need for financing of additional regulatory capacities and the modernization of the transmission lines.

The experience of elaborating and agreeing on a plan for the development of electricity grids in Germany shows that the change in the generation and expansion of the RES share requires significant investments in the development of electricity transmission systems, as well as the need to ensure the stability of the energy system within ENTSO-E (the European Network of Transmission System Operators).

Images of Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2019.

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