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27 Apr 2021, 13:48
Kerstine Appunn

German network operators update 2035 grid plan, account for higher renewables share

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s four transmission system operators (TSO) have published a revised version of the Grid Development Plan 2035 (NEP), which outlines different scenarios for power grid modernisation and construction in the next decade. In an ambitious climate action scenario, with increasing electrification levels in all sectors, rising power demand and a share of over 70 percent renewables in gross power consumption in 2035, the grid operators find that one new direct-current high voltage transmission line connection in the north of Germany will be necessary. It would be designed to collect offshore and onshore wind energy generated in northern Germany and transmit it to the industrial centres of the south. Further north-south connections in addition to those that are currently in the planning and construction phase will not be necessary, unless the energy transition produced even higher renewable power production and demand, the grid operators concluded. Costs for grid investments could reach 79 billion euros by 2035, a large share of which would be related to offshore wind park connections. The need for grid management procedures due to bottlenecks – which cost 1.4 billion euros in 2020 – would be lower in the future, the TSOs’ calculations show.

The TSOs found that system stability and adequate electricity supply could be secured in the different scenarios but that more devices for reactive power compensation and plants for instantaneous reserve supply would be needed. Their cost-benefit analysis of interconnectors with Germany’s neighbours found that they were economically beneficial, would lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions and would help increase the integration of renewable energies.

NEP 2035 will now be assessed by the Federal Network Agency, which is expected to present its results at the end of the year. Only then will the plan be used as a basis for the next grid expansion law to be passed by the federal parliament.

The success of Germany's energy transition is highly dependent on the modernisation and expansion of the country's power grid. North-south connections that bring wind power from the North Sea and Baltic shores to industrial hubs are currently being planned and are scheduled to be completed by 2025.

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