Europe’s grids need anticipatory planning and investment – Eurelectric

Europe’s grids need anticipatory planning and investment – Eurelectric
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Grid expansion must be prioritised in Europe to meet the EU’s Fit for 55 and REPowerEU objectives, Eurelectric reports.

In a new study on the region’s electricity market design, Eurelectric states that with around 70% of the planned new renewable capacity being connected to the distribution grids, these require reinforcement and expansion.

But for efficient and timely connection, the way the grids are developed needs to change from an essentially reactive approach to a ‘build-for-the-future’ approach that includes inter alia anticipatory investments.

“Getting our electricity networks fit for net zero should be a top priority in the coming years, both at EU and national level,” says Kristian Ruby, Secretary General of Eurelectric.

“This requires a new mindset among regulators and legislators. One that anticipates Europe’s capacity needs to integrate more renewable projects, and one that accommodates unprecedented electrification of transport, buildings and industry to match the speed and scale needed for Europe’s energy transition.”

The REPowerEU plan anticipates around 50 to 60 million heat pumps, 65 to 70 million electric vehicles (EVs) and over 600GW of additional renewable capacity by 2030.

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A scarcity of grid capacity translates into longer waits for connections, more congested areas and higher costs for network users.

In its earlier ‘Decarbonisation Speedways’ study, Eurelectric found that the EU currently invests €23 billion (US$25 billion) per year in grid infrastructure. However, the investment in distribution grids should reach no less than €38 billion per year until 2030 and up to €100 billion per year until 2050 to deliver on the decarbonisation’s agenda.

Eurelectric proposes in its report that the distribution networks should be planned at least 5 years ahead, with the option of reaching 10 years and with a 2050 horizon projection.

Further regulators must be flexible on DSO investment instruments, removing regulatory obstacles and adopting output-based remuneration taking into account both capex and opex.

EU policies and funds also must promote investments in the physical dimensioning of the grids. In this connection, dynamic line rating is one of the basic means to expand capacity.

Likewise, significant digitalisation efforts are needed and should be incentivised for grid management and forecasting and flexibility should be promoted, with local production and consumption stimulated.

A key for infrastructure development is permitting and Eurelectric urges for a “dedicated and permanently simplified procedure” for grid development, including a possible ‘one-stop-shop’ concept for a single permit for a generation project and the associated grid expansion.

Underlying much of these actions is the need for accurate information and Eurelectric calls for “robust data-sharing mechanisms” among the various players.