German grid operator Amprion tops up investment plans by 9 billion euros - report
German grid operator Amprion plans to invest around 24 billion euros in the electricity network over the next ten years, 9 billion more than previously planned, Jürgen Flauger reports in Handelsblatt. "The energy transition is picking up speed - and for this we need to invest in the grids," Hans-Jürgen Brick, CEO of Amprion, told the paper. Amprion has earmarked 5 billion euros for building two extra connections for offshore wind power parks, in addition to the two grid connections planned to date. An additional direct current line linking Western German wind power state Lower Saxony to industry heartland North Rhine-Westphalia will cost around 2.5 billion euros, the article said.
Amprion is one of Germany's four transmission grid operators, along with Tennet, 50Hertz and TransnetBW. The four companies need to speed up investments to accommodate Germany's rising share of renewable power. In light of Germany's coal exit, many coal-fired plans will be taken off the grid in the coming years, thus increasing the need for improving renewable connections. "The coal phase-out has significantly increased demand," says Brick. "The energy system is undergoing fundamental restructuring.”
The investment requirements of the four companies vary greatly. Tennet, for example, also has to connect offshore wind farms and transport wind power to the country's industrial centres in the south. The company estimates that it will have to invest 30 billion to 35 billion euros in Germany over the next ten years, Handelsblatt writes. 50Hertz plans to invest 4.2 billion euros by 2024. For the period up to 2029, the company assumes "investments of approximately the same order of magnitude", a spokesperson told Handelsblatt. TransnetBW's investment requirements up to 2030 are "in the mid single-digit billion range”.
For the financing of the investments, Amprion counts on shareholder support as well as the possibility of raising outside capital. The returns that the grid operators are allowed to achieve with their investments depend on the regulation of the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). In view of the historically low interest rate environment, network operators face significant cutbacks, which they oppose. "We need a regulatory framework that matches the dynamics of the energy transition," Brick argues.