German Power Grid Seen Needing $55 Billion on Renewables

Germany’s power lines may require investment of 42.5 billion euros ($55 billion) by 2030 to cope with extra renewable-energy generators feeding electricity into the network, according to state-owned energy agency Dena.

Distribution grids will have to expand by 193,000 kilometers (120,000 miles), while 25,000 kilometers of current lines will need upgrades if the share of renewables in Germany’s energy mix rises to 82 percent from 26 percent. Dena cited a study it compiled with regional grid operators.

“We will be able to consume the electricity from decentralized renewable generators only if we expand the grid infrastructure accordingly,” Dena head Stephan Kohler said today in an e-mailed statement.

Power supply has moved to the center of the political agenda in Germany since Chancellor Angela Merkel decided last year to replace nuclear reactors with more fossil-fired plants and a growing share of clean-energy sources. Germany must stabilize its grids as it adds wind farms and solar parks, which are subject to irregular output as the weather changes.

If the share of renewables in the energy mix only reaches 62 percent by 2030, the network overhaul will cost 27.5 billion euros, Dena said.

Dena is “dramatizing” the costs of the overhaul, Oliver Krischer, a lawmaker with the opposition Green Party, said in an e-mailed statement.

“What’s not being said is that grid operators hardly modernized in the past 10 years,” Krischer said. “That has nothing to do with the energy switch but is the result of wrong political priorities when regulating the power grid.”

Germany must ensure that grid operators get reasonable returns as current levels fail to account for the high investments they’ll have to make in coming years, Dena’s Kohler said.

“The legal framework must be urgently adjusted to facilitate the necessary investment in distribution grids that are fit for the future,” he said.

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