15 Jan 2024, 13:31
Franca Quecke

Germany plans to use railway power lines to relieve strained electricity grid

Der Spiegel / Golem

Germany’s railway operator will test whether the power lines on its tracks can relieve the wider electricity grid, which is straining to cope with the rapid growth in renewable energy sources, reports Der Spiegel. Deutsche Bahn joined up with transmission system operator TenneT to run the first tests. The railway’s own electricity grid (excluding its distribution grids) covers more than 7,900 kilometres and is largely independent from the public electricity grid, according to an article in IT journal Golem. Using the railway power lines as an alternative transmission route could provide extra capacity to transport wind power from the country’s northern coasts to industry centres further south. While the construction of central parts of the central north-south transmission line SuedLink commenced in 2023, efforts to extend the existing electricity network already face huge delays, which threaten to endanger its targets for the integration of renewable power sources. 

The scarce capacities for the transport of renewable power are costing German consumers billions of euros per year, because a lot of electricity is lost and compensating measures are very expensive. Germany had to throttle its renewable energy production by more than 7,000 gigawatt hours in 2022 because of insufficient grid connections, which corresponds to around 1.5 percent of its electricity consumption, according to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA).

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