21 Jun 2024, 11:47
Julian Wettengel

Europe must learn from Germany's power grid expansion mistakes – network operator

Tagesspiegel Background

Europe has to better coordinate its electricity grid buildout, and other countries should learn from Germany's mistakes, said Michael Jesberger, member of the executive board at grid operator TransnetBW, in an interview with Tagesspiegel Background. Neighbouring countries should avoid the mistake of first focusing on renewables expansion and then facing lagging grid development, which has led to costly re-dispatch measures. In recent years, Germany at times has had to throttle renewables installations in the north and fire up conventional power plants in the southern consumption centres due to grid bottlenecks in-between. Key hurdles to grid expansion in Germany include long permitting and planning procedures, but also recurring issues with the supply chain of materials, such as steel or chips, and a lack of skilled workers, Jesberger said.

While the EU does not have the competence to fully prescribe member states' energy mix, they could improve coordination, he said. "The very different approaches in the member states are not ideal." A key challenge for the coming years would be to come up with a plan for the electricity production capacities needed to reach climate neutrality by 2050. This should be planned on a regionalised basis, he said. "We would have to look at how much wind is available in Spain or offshore in the North Sea and, on the other hand, look at what the regional consumption structures will look like – for example, how many heat pumps or electric cars will be connected to the grid, and where." Jesberger also criticised the lack of interconnectors between member states.

Each EU member state has the right to determine its own energy mix, but the energy markets in Europe are becoming more and more integrated and interdependent physically, economically and from a regulatory perspective.

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