When Germany decided to retire the entirety of its nuclear power, industry insiders began calculating the difference: how could the country replace capacity from its nuclear power without exceeding increasingly tight emissions rules?
This study, sponsored by the European Union’s SUSPLAN project, concludes that the region’s electricity and gas infrastructures needs to be significantly upgraded in order to integrate a higher percentage of renewable generation–an added 200,000 MW of new capacity.It directs the SUSPLAN project to conduct 9 individual regional integration scenario studies in different geographical regions across Europe to see what can be done, and how, to improve the grid.
The 9 regions can be seen on this map.
The goal: “Development of regional and European-wide guidelines for more efficient integration of renewable energy into future infrastructures.”
SUSPLAN was founded in 2008 as an EU project–sponsored by the Directorate of General Transport and Energy–and is aimed at planning for possible future developments in the EU electricity grid, particularly for the 2030-2050 time-period. This report, of which an English summary is available for download with this article,was written in cooperation with the German Energy Agency.
The EU has officially said its hopes to reach 20% electrical generation from renewables by 2020. But as of 2005, only 6.4% of EU’s generation was sourced from renewables.
According to the report, on and offshore wind power as well as biomass will lead the way in closing that gap. But more importantly, the region’s transmission needs to undergo massive structural changes to adequately feed that power to consumers.
“Meeting the 20% renewable energy objective will require massive changes regarding the production, transmission, and consumption of energy in the European community,” this English translation of the report says. “This (re-)development of the energy system will not stop in 2020, but has to continue further towards 2050 and beyond.”
Infrastructure is more costly and takes more time to build than new electrical generation (10 years as compared with three), according to the report. And the lack of adequate infrastructure is already limiting growth of the renewables sector.
In the United States, a heated debate is already underway over cost allocation of new transmission, with advocates of renewable generation claiming that only a bolstered national grid could handle increased renewable generation.
On October 7, SUSPLAN will hold its second international conference in Brussels where it will be discussing this report and other strategies and options for the EU’s energy future.
Download the full 159-page report, “Development of regional and Pan-European guidelines for more efficient integration of renewable energy into future infrastructure: “SUSPLAN.”
Photo Caption: Marlies Philipp, engineer and spokeswoman of the Energiewerke Nord, walks past a reactor removed from the Lubmin nuclear power plant and standing now at the Zwischenlager Nord (ZLN) interim storage facility, where dismantled parts of the Lubmin nuclear power plant are stocked, on July 25, 2011 on the grounds of the former nuclear power plant in Lubmin near Greifswald, northeastern Germany.