“Grids in Europe insufficient to support electrification: risk of congestion and high bills”

“Longer wait times to connect to the network, more congested spaces and higher costs for users.” These are the risks Europe faces in the race to electrification of transport, buildings and industry, according to a report by Eurelectric, the association representing European power companies. Ambitious goals of moving from fossil fuels to clean sources are at odds with today’s rapidly aging transmission and distribution networks. A “limited” capacity that can cause power outages and higher bills. We need 15 billion more EU investments per year demanded by the industrialists in the sector.

Insufficient networks

Eurelectric predicts that by 2030 Europe will have 50 to 60 million heat pumps, 65 to 70 million electric vehicles (EVs) and over 600 gigawatts of additional renewable capacity; this was launched after the outbreak of the Brussels plan, as RePowerEu predicted. War and gas crisis in Ukraine. About 70% of this capacity will be connected directly to distribution networks, ie power lines that run through cities and towns and link wind and solar power plants. Eurelectric denounced that European distribution networks, which are becoming increasingly important to decarbonize, face “scarce capacity, complex permits and underinvestment”.

It’s time for electricity generators to take a “predictive” approach to building networks suited to the challenges facing the continent. Eurelectric’s general secretary, Kristian Ruby, underlines that adapting our electricity grids to zero emissions must be a top priority, both at EU and national level, in the years to come. This requires a new mindset of regulators and legislators, envisioning Europe’s ability to integrate more. It enables the unprecedented electrification of transport, buildings and industry to achieve the speed and scale needed for renewable projects and Europe’s energy transition”.

15 billion more per year

Eurelectric explains that the low capacity of the networks leads to longer wait times for connection to the network, more congested spaces and higher costs for users. According to the industrialists, to remedy this situation, Europe needs to strengthen and expand its network infrastructure and try to make the best use of the existing infrastructure. The association remains “critical” to plan ahead for grid expansion to meet the EU’s electrification needs by 2030 and to provide reliable electricity on thousands of kilometers of lines across Europe. According to Eurelectric, the best way forward is to plan ahead and invest.

To fill the €7 billion annual investment gap in the EU’s electricity infrastructure, preliminary investments should be structurally included in the reform of the electricity market framework. According to the Eurelectric “Decarbonization Speed ​​Paths” study, the EU is currently investing 23 billion euros per year in grid infrastructure. This is very little: investments in distribution networks, according to the Union’s statement, will amount to at least €38 billion per year by 2030 and €100 billion per year by 2050, given the expected additional demand to meet the additional demand the EU needs. or to reach. decarbonisation agenda.

Faster authorizations

The problem is not too much or simply about finding funds: Eurelectric underlines that activating the required investment levels also requires expediting authorizations. The association explains that the slowness of grid permits today often delays the implementation of projects to generate energy from renewable sources. It is a structural delay that increases the risk of congestion due to increased connectivity and capacity demands. According to Eurelectric, politicians urgently need to agree on a streamlined authorization process. For example, incorporating grid improvements into an electrical generator project with a single permit can ease the administrative burden.

more flexibility

At the same time, existing networks need to be maximally optimized, according to Eurelectric, as new infrastructure is developed; this requires digitization and flexible connectivity arrangements to improve utilization of available capacity in congested spaces. By enabling faster network connections for some of the capacity needed, these agreements could alleviate some of the urgency to build more capacity.

Eurelectric underlines that electricity consumers can further assist grid management and improve overall system stability by shifting or reducing consumption to less congested times. But to achieve greater flexibility, a smarter grid is needed. According to the association, regulators should encourage system operators to invest in the digitalization necessary to have a more resilient energy system and efficient service.

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Source: Today IT