Distribution system operators in eastern Germany publish joint grid expansion plan

21.11.2019

Great need for grid expansion and grid upgrade measures until 2030

Great need for grid expansion and grid upgrade measures until 2030

The distribution system operators belonging to the Consortium of Area Network Operators East (ARGE FNB Ost) have published their 2019 grid expansion plan for the high-voltage grid. Based on the plans as they currently stand, 11 new grid junction points between the distribution grid and transmission grid will need to be installed and 29 junction points will need to be upgraded in the region between the Baltic coast and the Thuringian Forest by 2030. In addition, a total of 526 kilometres of new cable routes will need to be laid and 2,156 kilometres upgraded for the high-voltage grid by 2030. Studies show that despite an increasing amount of investments in the renovation and expansion of the grids, the need for further grid upgrade and expansion measures will remain high in the future.

The 2019 grid expansion plan shall cover the period through to 2030. In order to predict how generation and loads are set to develop, the plan uses input data from the 2030 grid expansion plan process (2019 version) and supplements this with local analyses and estimates from the distribution system operators involved.

Power generation in many distribution grids already exceeds consumption many times over today. By 2030, a total of 57 gigawatts (GW) of output will be connected to the distribution grids included in the 2019 grid expansion plan, of which approximately 50 GW will come from renewable energy sources. According to estimates, just under 90 percent of the output from the grids managed by ARGE FNB Ost will come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

This means that the greatest share of the output will continue to be connected to the distribution network in the future. It is likely that energy will be fed into the transmission grids much more often and with greater performance values than is currently the case. The area networks will therefore become area power plants, while the transmission grids will continue to perform a bridging role.

The influence of energy storage and flexible loads on the grids evaluated shows that their integration into the grid may only push the grid expansion measures to beyond 2030 in a few isolated cases. Furthermore, the technical, legal, regulatory and economic limiting conditions are yet to be set.

As part of the transition to renewable energy sources, the generation of energy by large, centralised power plants will be replaced by the decentralised, supply-dependent provision of regenerative energy sources into the distribution networks. Due to the targets to reduce CO2 in various sectors, consumption will be much more electrified in the future. These challenges primarily relate to the distribution networks, whose importance to the stability of the energy supply system will grow accordingly.

New solutions arising from cooperation between all the players involved therefore have to be developed in order to be able to guarantee the reliability of supply along with grid and system stability in the future. The coordination of high, difficult-to-predict output volumes generated and the use of flexibility to ensure system stability both require intelligent grid operations that respond to fluctuations immediately and rely on forward planning. The constant exchange of data between all participants is required, which calls for a reliable legal and regulatory framework as well as suitable, secure communication structures. The results presented in ARGE FNB Ost's 2019 grid expansion plan constitute a significant contribution to the ongoing joint development of the grid in northern Germany.

The 2019 grid expansion plan is available to download here:
https://www.arge-fnb-ost.de/arbeitsfelder/netzausbauplan

About the Consortium of Area Network Operators East (ARGE FNB Ost):

The major distribution system operators in eastern Germany joined to form ARGE FNB Ost in 2012. Their joint aim is to create an "energy transition laboratory" in northern Germany, or a model region that allows for the implementation of joint research and pilot projects to develop solutions for secure, reliable system operations. ARGE FNB Ost is seeking to create solutions for the many shared challenges associated with the energy transition, and is testing out approaches based on the motto of "Sure together. Surely together."

The projects jointly initiated by ARGE FNB Ost range from solutions for intelligent load management with regard to electromobility through to issues relating to voltage stability and generating operating reserves in the future. Results and findings from this collaborative effort – the only one of its kind in Germany at present – are available on the website www.arge-fnb-ost.de.