06 May 2024, 12:49
Benjamin Wehrmann

Grid expansion in Germany set to receive significant boost – agency

Der Spiegel

The expansion of power transmission lines in Germany looks set to receive a decisive push in the coming years after a raft of new legislation has cut red tape and allows for a faster licensing of the infrastructure needed to absorb the growing influx of renewable power. The country’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) expects a significant acceleration of the grid buildout, internal documents seen by news magazine Der Spiegel show. According to the magazine, the BnetzA expects over 1,870 kilometres of new licenses for transmission lines in 2024 and for another roughly 1,600 kilometres next year. The different lines, including SuedLink and SuedOstLink, are supposed to bring renewable electricity from Germany’s windy north to industry centres in the south. The government of chancellor Olaf Scholz has enacted several laws that aim to facilitate grid expansion by reducing administrative requirements, which means several projects can be bundled in one licensing procedure and fewer alternative routes must be assessed for each section. Moreover, the introduction of so-called preference areas provided planning authorities with further tools to speed up procedures, which according to BNetzA head Klaus Müller could save “years of planning work.”

Insufficient transmission capacity in the power grid is currently routinely causing supply bottlenecks that occur when too much wind power is being generated in the north and cannot be transported to the demand centres. This means installations must be throttled down and power transmission curtailed, while consumers in the south must deploy local power sources, such as gas plants, to cover demand in their area. The deployment of additional power sources and throttling of others (known as re-dispatch) has cost customers more than three billion euros in 2023 alone -- a price tag that could be brought down immensely if power transmission capacity is increased, said Spiegel. Protests by residents and other interest groups have slowed down grid expansion in the past years and energy industry representatives and consumer protection groups alike have called for measures to ensure that the buildout is sped up.  

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