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German power grid operators urge rise in renewable generation capacity

By Lawrence Gash

Increased demand demands increased capacity

Germany’s four main power grid operators have agreed on the need for an increase in the country’s renewable generation capacity over the next 15 years.

The four high voltage transmission grid firms (TSOs) outlined their capacity planning needs on Friday, arguing that current renewable generation capacity will not be able to cope with the future demand from the electrification of transport, heating and other industries.

The firms stated: “The power sector plays a central role in reaching climate targets and this is coupled with a significant expansion of renewable energy.”

The TSOs increased their demand projections due to ever-strengthening efforts by major manufacturers to decarbonise their processes with electric solutions instead. This wave of digitisation will lead to an expansion of data centres. By the operators' own admission they have already “received a very high number of connection requests from IT companies.”

To cope with this increased demand the TSOs have stated that Germany will need to increase installed renewable power capacity from the 116 gigawatt (GW) level of recent years, to between 235-276 GW by 2035.

Concern as to the extent to which Germany’s power grid could cope with the immediate level of demand grew throughout 2019. In February blackouts hit Berlin, which lasted for 30 hours and affected over 30,000 households. It later emerged that the German interior ministry had no comprehensive national contingency plans for such widespread shortages.

Such a shortage has been attributed by many to the fact that Germany is in an "energy transition". The country is attempting to have renewable energy sources contribute 64 per cent of power output by 2030, compared with the current 40 per cent, in order to further reduce emissions.

In a similar vain Germany has pledged to close down all of its coal power stations by 2038. Some have argued that the attempt to transition from fossil fuels would be much smoother had the German Chancellor Angela Merkel not pledged to close the country’s significant nuclear sector by 2022 following the Fukushima crisis in 2011.

With the German Green party poised to form part of a new government following Germany’s upcoming elections, the TSOs demand for greater renewable energy generation will likely be acknowledged and worked on in the years to come.

FURTHER READING: World must double investment in renewable energy to meet climate target

FURTHER READING: UK fossil fuel use hits record low

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