Investment in the transmission grid is essential to meet decarbonisation goals in the most cost-effective way, but projects are likely to become more complex, says ENTSO-E as it begins its new ten-year plan.
European power and gas transmission system operator groups ENTSO-E and ENTSO-G are preparing their biennial ten-year network development plans (TYNDP) with scenarios to 2030 and 2040. The electricity network will need investment up to €100 billion by 2040, says Jean-Baptiste Paquel, system development manager at ENTSO-E, but if no action is taken it will cost an additional €40 billion/year to operate the grid to meet tough emission reduction targets. The TYNDP is the entry gate for being accepted for support as an EU project of common interest and can inform member state policymakers of the need for investment.
ENTSO-E issued a consultation last week asking for comment from developers on guidelines for submission of their projects between 16th September and 3rd November this year. The TYNDP initially identifies different scenarios to show plausible grid future development, and then looks at what transmission, storage and other projects are needed to be as efficient as possible under that scenario. The last phase assesses existing projects and publishes results of cost-benefit analyses.
ENTSO-E and ENTSO-G work on a common set of scenarios, gathering input from European Member States and different stakeholder groups such as the International Renewable Energy Agency, NGOs including Climate Action Network, and industry or consumers associations such as Eurelectric, the wind and solar European Associations, Smart Energy Demand Coalition, the Renewables Grid Initiative to develop the scenarios. Possibly the most ambitious is the ‘global climate action’ scenario, where the grid develops in an efficient, decentralised way. There is also a ‘distributed energy’ scenario where most technologies are in place and digitalisation projects and smart grid opportunities are maximised.
The new Clean Energy Package introduced new National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP) to be developed by European Member States with coordination provided by the European Commission. A new central scenario reflecting the NECPs currently under development will be developed for the coming electricity and gas TYNDPs and serve for the first time as a central reference scenario.
While non-wires alternatives will allow some divestment in new transmission lines, investment in lines, storage, smart grids, and decarbonised generation must go hand in hand to minimise the costs of the upcoming transition, says Paquel.
“We are not in a business-as-usual environment right now. There is a huge wave of investment required, there will always be a need for further investment but not as much as now. In ten to 15 years it will slowly decrease to business-as-usual,” he says.
The easy solutions have been adopted already and now many projects are under the sea, underground, or HVDC lines which are more expensive and more technically complex.
System operation needs such as voltage and frequency control are expected to grow in the future, as a result of the changing energy generation mix and increasingly responsive energy demand: Last year’s TYNDP featured 166 transmission and 13 storage projects. Once project proposals have been submitted and evaluated, ENTSO-E will submit the new plan to ACER by Q4 2020.