German network operators plan with long-term bottlenecks in power grid
Germany's four transmission system operators (TSO) for the first time acknowledge the possibility of long-term bottlenecks between the power-producing north and industry-heavy south in their Grid Development Plan 2030 (NEP), writes Steven Hanke in the energy policy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. As expansion of the power highways between northern and southern Germany is lagging behind schedule, the TSOs and the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), which has approved the grid development plan, have deviated slightly from their principle of planning the power grid in such a way that it can absorb and transport all the electricity generated. In the past, structural bottlenecks were not foreseen, writes Hanke. Now, the TSOs and the BNetzA agree that a certain amount of structural bottlenecks will have to be compensated through technological innovations. The BNetzA expects the gaps to be relatively easy to close with, for example, phase-shifting transformers, while the TSOs anticipate that the use of other technologies, such as power-to-heat and hydrogen electrolysis plants, will be necessary in all scenarios.
The expansion of Germany's power grid is one of the energy transition's greatest current challenges. In August 2019, the BNetzA said progress was still "not as fast as necessary," with construction of about 6,600 kilometres of transmission lines outstanding. The grid development plan for 2019-2030 is the first based on Germany's target of 65 percent renewables in gross power consumption and its planned coal exit.