Blog April 24, 2019
Europe’s coal phase-out plan by country
Figure 1: Europe’s coal phase-out plan by country. Click to enlarge

On 4 April 2019, the Transmission System Operators (TSOs) 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW submitted the first draft of Germany’s Grid Development Plan 2030 (Netzentwicklungsplan 2030), Version 2019. Following this publication, they published a second draft on 15 April, including comments from the German public and submitted it to the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur, BNetzA) for evaluation.

The main take-away includes extensive investment to increase the grid size in Germany: namely, to reinforce between 7,600 kilometres (km) and 8,500 km of existing cables and to build 3,800 km of new lines. Extra interconnectors will include 330 km of direct connections to Belgium, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (total capacity of 8 gigawatts (GW)). Nearly 2,800 km of offshore lines will be developed by 2030 (3,700 km by 2035), with a planned network capacity ranging from 7.4 GW in 2030 to 11.4 GW in 2035.

Share of new installed capacity in the EU-28
Figure 2: Share of new installed capacity in the EU-28

The Drivers:

Several drivers pushed the German government to initiate such a plan. First, since the country hopes to phase-out its nuclear plants by 2022 and coal power stations by 2038, maintaining the security of power supply is crucial. This requires increasing the connections to neighbors as well as finding alternative ways to produce and transmit electricity throughout the country. Figure 1 shows the different coal phase-out plans of European countries. Figure 2 shows the share of new installed capacity in the EU-28 in 2018. Solar and wind installations account for 88 percent of new installations, which shows thermal generation will give way to intermittent generation. Both graphs highlight the need for more transmission capacity to bring electricity to sufficient levels.

Follow transmission lines flows in real time with Genscape PowerRT
Figure 3: Follow transmission lines flows in real time with Genscape PowerRT

Second, while generation in northern and eastern Germany is more than twice local demand, there is not enough electricity produced in the south and the west of Germany to cover demand there. As a result of this North-South discrepancy, the transmission lines between the north and the south of the country are congested, costing the TSOs €1B in 2018 alone.

Follow the electricity flows and direction on transmission lines with Genscape PowerRT
Figure 4: Follow the electricity flows and direction on transmission lines with Genscape PowerRT

As shown in Figure 3, Genscape’s PowerRT platform monitors transmission flows within a country as well as with its neighbors. Figure 4 shows a representation of the actual flows, their historic values, and direction.

Track renewable generation in real time with Genscape PowerRT
Figure 5: Track renewable generation in real time with Genscape PowerRT

Finally, boosting renewables to 65 percent of Germany’s power mix by 2030 requires flexibility and capacity in electricity delivery from intermittent generation. Transmission system Operators (TSOs) have to balance the real-time balance between production and consumption and deal with congestions when renewable production increases drastically. The goal is to reduce Co2 emissions by 55 percent over 1990 levels and make up for the loss of nuclear and coal generation. As shown in Figure 5 below, Genscape’s PowerRT platform also monitors the renewable generation.

In conclusion, power grids need to be extended to reach renewable energy sites. This will include new transmission lines to connect the industrial south with northern wind power farms. The grid extension comes at a hefty cost, nearly €52B ($60 billion) for onshore lines, compared to the €32B previously calculated. To link up offshore wind farms, an additional €18B to €27B is needed.

At Genscape, we follow the development of the European power market. With the PowerRT platform, you can monitor and follow the electricity generation and transmission within and across countries. To learn more, or to request a demo of PowerRT please click here.