Germany must make better use of existing power grid's capacity - report
Clean Energy Wire
Germany's existing power grid could handle much more electricity after a technical update, the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) argues in a policy brief. “There is enormous potential here to transport significantly more electricity in existing power lines," said Franziska Flachsbarth, co-author of the study. She said careful weather monitoring could improve power grid utilisation in windy weather or during the cooler seasons. The Institute also recommends the introduction of technical solutions that would increase and better manage the flow of renewable energy in the grid, such as using so-called phase shift transformers, which control load flow. Other smaller modern solutions can also be used to temporarily bridge network bottlenecks.
At a current capacity of just 35 percent, Germany’s grid transmits far too little renewable electricity from Northern Germany to the high-consumption regions in Southern Germany, according to the report. The problem is set to worsen in the future, when offshore wind farms will likely produce significantly more electricity. Germany's electricity grid is not up to the task of making full use of all the renewable power it generates, the report concludes, adding that the constructionof powerlines has proved a fraught process plagued by public resistance.
The Institute calls on the government to incentivise grid operators, rather than relying on legal changes, in order to accelerate the expansion of the country’s electrical grid. It also recommends early consideration of public objections to avoid subsequent complaints and delays in grid extensions. “There is a reliable legal framework for network expansion,” Öko-Institut project manager Silvia Schütte said. “Changing this and then checking whether the changes are effective takes time - time that we don't have when expanding and integrating renewable energy into the power grid.”