Germany drastically reduces forecast for grid expansion
On Monday, the German Network Agency slashed the number of urgently needed power lines needed for the energy transition from 74 to 51. The overall line length was reduced in the process from 3,800 to 2,800 kilometers.
On Monday, the German Network Agency (BNetzA) presented (press release) its Grid Development Plan 2012 and Environmental Report to German Economics Minister Philipp Rösler. As BNetzA president Jochen Homann explains, his agency only confirms urgent need for three of the four high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) corridors proposed.
The news is especially interesting for proponents of renewables, who have stated all along that the estimates of how much the grid will have to be expanded for the energy transition have been too high up to now. They charge that the conventional power sector was inflating estimates in order to profit from the energy transition – and simultaneously slow it down.
Good news: Germany's energy transition will not be so expensive because the grid will not have to be expanded so much.
Though the press release does not say so, offshore wind in Germany is currently in limbo. Because the need for power lines was usually justified with reference to the need to bring offshore wind power from the north to the south, it stands to reason that the slower growth in offshore wind might be the reason why the Network Agency does not believe one of the core doors is urgently needed, but no specific connection is made.
The Network Agency does not say that the lines will not be needed at all, however, but simply that they are not "urgent" – meaning that they will not need to be finished within the decade. It could very well be, however, that these lines will be needed if offshore wind ever grows as planned. But for the time being, two of the main cost drivers in the energy transition have been reduced considerably: offshore wind and grid expansion. (Craig Morris)