The Federal Ministry for the Economy and Technology has published a most interesting overview of how Germany plans to transform the German electric power grid. It is based on the 40 year energy plan that was released in 2010, but incorporates the 2011 decision to shut down all nuclear power plants in Germany by 2022.
Ensuring adequate power supply at affordable prices is essential for the future development of the German economy. By 2022 Germany intends to shut down existing nuclear power plants. Together with the requirement to reduce emssions this is forcing a fundamental restructuring of the German energy supply including a new, intelligent and efficient power grid.
Another important factor is reliability. A measure of reliability is the total time of nonavailability - the total number of minutes annually that the avereage consumer is without power. In Germany this is about 14.63 minutes annually, reflecting a very high level of reliability. It will be necessary to maintain this high level of availability as the grid is radically transformed.
German electric power generation is currently 80% fossil and nuclear fuels. In 40 years it is planned that it will be over 80% renewable energy and CO2 emissions will be at least 80% below the 1990 emissions level. To do this will require a new power grid, new power generation plants, new storage facilities, and new technologies. In 2008 power consumption in Germany was about 625 TWh. By 2030 consumption is expected to drop to about 500 TWh, of which about half will be derived from renewable sources. In 2030 it is projected that roughly 50 TWh net will be imported.
Transforming the grid
The German electric grid consists of 1.7 million km of conductors. It will need to be expanded and reinforced to support new onshore and offshore wind turbines, thousands of new solar power generator installations as well as new conventional power plants to replace nuclear and older fossil fuel plants.
To develop the new grid, the highest priorities are
- New transmission capacity to link 25 GW of offshore wind generation in the Baltic by 2030,
- In addition to the new natural gas and coal power plants that are already being constructed, an additonal 17 GW of conventional power generation will be required by 2022.
- In 2010 about 880,000 photovoltaic installations produced about 11,500 GWh. By 2020 the number of solar installations will continue to increase.
- By 2015 about 400 km of high tension transmission lines will need to be reinforced and an additional 850 km constructed. By 2020 several thousand km of new transmission capacity will be required.
- In 2010 a total of 22,500 GWh were generated from biogas and biomass sources. By 2020 this will increase to about 50,000 GWh
- Currently the German power grid has storage capacity of about 10 GW from storage and pumped storage power plants - about the equivalent of 10 large power plants. By 2020 storage it is projected that storage capacity will increase to 13 GW.
Streamlining planning and regulatory approval
Until now the construction of new transmission capacity has been seriously delayed by a very cumbersome planning and regulatory process, especially for lines crossing multiple states (This situation is even worse in the U.S.). In the summer of 2011 the Federal and State governments agreed on a foundation for streamlining the planning and regulatory approval process for expanding the transmission grid. Two new laws, EnWG and NABEG, were passed. The objective of the new laws is to reduce the time required for planning and regulatory approval for new transmission lines from ten years to four years. A key provision of NABEG is that when proposed transmissiion lines cross multiple States, the Federal regulator (BNA) will be responsible for planning and approval using an open and transparent process.