June 12, 2018 / 10:03 AM / 5 months ago

Power grid firm Tennet urges German rethink on network expansion to 2030

* Germany’s biggest operator wants new planning body in H2

* Says new renewable targets leave current grid expansion plans outdated

* More lines and new efficiencies needed

* Government committed to addressing infrastructure needs

By Vera Eckert

FRANKFURT, June 12 (Reuters) - Germany’s biggest power grid operator TenneT IPO-TTH.AS called on the Berlin government to start a new round of network planning until 2030 arguing that ambitious targets for renewable energy supply leave the country’s current plans outdated.

TenneT, part of a state-owned Dutch group, said the process should be started in second half 2018 and include grid operators, policymakers, authorities and industry representatives to help draw up new plans for 2030.

“We should meanwhile pause with executing current plans at hand for 2030...and refocus all resources into new preparations in line with changed network requirements,” TenneT said, minutes from a press briefing held in Berlin showed.

Current grid plans need to be overhauled given the sweeping nature of changes to Germany’s energy market and after the country’s government took months to form, delaying investments into network infrastructure.

An increase in offshore wind power is turning supply routes upside down while a rise in electric mobility will boost demand, requiring new plans for grids to deal with the country’s transition to higher renewable energy production.

Germany’s ruling coalition set fresh challenges for the industry by agreeing quotas for renewables to provide 65 percent power by 2030, nearly doubling the current share.

This will add to soaring grid management costs and require new cables beyond 2025, adding time pressure and potentially triggering opposition by the public in regions where new grids are required, TenneT said.

Even the previous target of 45 percent renewable for next decade necessitated additional or revamped 6,500 kilometres (km) of high-voltage networks, of which only 450 km have been approved and 150 km implemented, official data shows.

Furthermore European legislation at the end of this year stipulates more cross-border power trading, a step which requires upgrades to interconnectors.

“A network expansion spiral looms unless we put the brakes on,” said Lex Hartman, board member at the Dutch parent firm.

TenneT acknowledged the need for more networks, but argued fewer lines might suffice if efficiency gains from increasing automation were exploited. (Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Edward Taylor)

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