German grid expansion law takes effect as grid agency urges rapid action
Clean Energy Wire
A new law that is aimed at accelerating the much-needed expansion Germany’s power grid will enter into effect one day after the country’s grid agency BNetzA said grid expansion remains the greatest challenge of the Energiewende. The law will streamline procedures for the optimisation of existing lines as well as for the construction of new power lines, Germany’s economy ministry BMWi said. Economy and energy minister Peter Altmaier said the new law would serve to implement the decisions taken at last year’s ”grid summit”, where the federal government, together with Germany’s federal states, debated how resistance against grid expansion at the regional level could be overcome.
Meanwhile, Germany’s grid agency BNetzA stressed the need to make progress in grid expansion to better integrate the country’s growing renewable power generation capacity. “Grid expansion remains the Energiewende’s main challenge,” BNetzA head Jochen Homann said at the presentation of the agency’s 2018 annual report. Homann said the planning of new power lines was making “good progress”, whereas construction did not take place quickly enough. “This is reflected in higher costs for preserving system stability,” he argued. The agency said that about 7,700 kilometres of new power lines are currently planned in the country, out of which 1,800 were “licensed or already implemented”.
Although the costs for grid stabilisation in Germany that is needed to balance intermittent renewable power production have slightly fallen, they remain high in absolute terms, amounting to 1.4 billion euros in 2018. The major transmission lines, named SuedLink, SuedOstLink and Ultranet, are needed to connect major renewable power generation areas in the north with industrial centres in the south but encounter fierce opposition by residents as well as local politicians, many of which argue that the large-scale power lines are a threat to human health and might lower the value of adjacent properties.