Impacts of restricted transmission grid expansion in a 2030 perspective in Germany

Ecofys, SEFEP staff: Raffaele Piria, August 2013

A timely transmission grid expansion is important for the future electricity supply based on renewable energies. A recent study by Ecofys energy consultants shows that even if this expansion is delayed, the planned deployment of renewables can still take place within the next 15 years. In this case, renewable energy installations would have to be distributed more evenly across the country to save costs. With successful grid expansion, however, measures have to be taken to reduce emissions from lignite production.

For the Smart Energy for Europe Platform (SEFEP), Ecofys examined the impacts of a delayed grid expansion for scenarios with a different mix of renewable energy technologies employed. With restricted grid expansion, more regional storage and flexible power plants need to be installed and renewable energy output has to be increasingly curtailed. The corresponding costs can be reduced if the renewable energy installations are distributed more evenly. “If grid expansion is delayed, about 800 million euros can be saved per year if we spread wind and photovoltaic installations more evenly across the country”, says Christian Nabe, electricity market specialist at Ecofys.

The study shows scenarios for the year 2030. By then, renewable energies are supposed to have a share of 70 percent in electricity production in Germany. CO2 emissions from the electricity sector will have been reduced to a third compared to today.

An increased grid expansion does not only support renewable energies but also facilitates the transport of electricity from cheap lignite. As a consequence, additional political measures are crucial to reduce emissions from those power plants.

”The study shows that rapid expansion of renewable energies can continue. If grid expansion is delayed, we need to manage geographical distribution of renewables wisely. With rapid grid expansion, effective measures to reduce emissions from lignite become even more important“, explains Raffaele Piria, Program Director at SEFEP. “These are relevant message for the next government coalition in Germany.“

The report is available for download here. Contact: Raffaele Piria (email, website).

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