Slow German electricity grid expansion ‘concerning’ – BNetzA
Germany has built only 12% of the priority power lines it needs to help the shift to a greater share of renewable energy sources in its electricity production mix, the country's energy regulator said on Friday.
Many of the lines are sections of a longer facility and often cross different state borders, causing administrative delays. Each longer line can only start transporting power once all its sections are finished, the Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) president, Jochen Homan, said in the agency's annual report.
So far, the country has completed only 214km of 1,834km prioritised in 2009 legislation for construction by the end of 2018.
Worse yet, less than 100km are actually in operation, Homan said, concerning news for Germany's "Energiewende", its shift from conventional to renewable power sources.
BNetzA said grid expansion is crucial to ensure security of Germany's power supply in the face of the shift to renewable energies (see EDEM 24 February 2012). "Therefore, in the short and medium term, new power plant projects and new power line projects need to be swiftly realised," it said.
According to German energy agency Dena, the country needs 4,500km of high-voltage power lines and 200,000-400,000km of medium- and low-voltage power lines by 2020 to accommodate the growing renewable sector (see EDEM 19 April 2011).
The quick expansion of the power grid demanded by politicians requires attractive investment conditions that are not free. But BNetzA said its delay cannot be explained simply by a lack of investment incentives because investors would be offered "attractive returns at low risk".
Instead, the regulator said, a fast approval and planning process is crucial to accelerating the grid's development. It also warned that, given the need for investments, rising grid charges will be unavoidable.
Slow grid expansion was one issue discussed during a meeting between the energy industry and German chancellor Angela Merkel this week (see EDEM 3 May 2012). Last month, Germany's four grid operators warned of future regional blackouts as they all needed to intervene to keep the grid stable virtually every day last winter (see EDEM 24 February 2012).
The transmission system operators will present their models for the 10-year grid development plan to BNetzA on 3 June. MD
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