Germany highlights need to improve power distribution
London, 7 September (Argus) — Germany's government, grid regulator and grid operators need to include distributions networks in their push towards expanding and upgrading the country's power grid, municipal utility association VKU and energy and water association BDEW said.
Grid regulator BNA launched a two-month consultation process yesterday for the country's first 10-year network development plan (NEP) that identifies expansion and upgrade projects needed for the German high-voltage grid to accommodate the nuclear phase-out and push towards a greater share of intermittent renewable power in the generation mix.
The country's four transmission system operators (TSOs) published a first draft of the 10-year plan in May. BNA will submit the final NEP to the government following the consultations.
Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to pass a law by the end of this year to accelerate planning and application procedures for the projects detailed in the NEP.
But VKU today warned that the 10-year plan fails to take sufficient account of the need to expand and upgrade Germany's distribution networks at the same time.
“There is a huge need for action beyond the NEP because of the strong expansion of decentralised generation capacity,” VKU managing director Hans-Joachim Reck. “We need investment conditions that allow to expand and convert distribution networks into smart grids,” he said.
BDEW also urged the government to consider distribution networks in its plans to speed up network projects, as nearly 100pc of solar power capacity and over 90pc of installed wind power capacity is not connected to the high-voltage grid but to the lower-voltage distribution network.
Increasing feed-in from intermittent renewable power into the distribution grid also has an adverse effect on the high-voltage grids and means that Germany has to invest up to €27bn ($35bn) to extend the distribution network by over 380,000km, BDEW said.
BDEW also proposed to change rules that oblige Germany's TSOs to present a 10-year development plant once a year.
Updating the long-term plan on a yearly basis creates significant organisational challenges that may be out of proportion with the limited gain in knowledge that TSOs can obtain on developments in power demand or supply within a short period of time, BDEW said.
The association suggests presenting a NEP every two years instead, which would be in line with the 10-year network development plan published every two years by European system operators group Entso-E.
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