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Germany approves power grid law to speed up expansion, boost renewables rollout

The German parliament approved laws to speed the country's expansion of its power grid, a key requirement for the further rollout of renewables, Energy Minister Peter Altmaier said Jan. 29.

The Federal Requirements Plan Act is set to shorten the planning and approval process for grid projects confirmed by regulator BNetzA in the 10-year network development plan to 2030, including new high-voltage transmission lines, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy said.

Meanwhile, a provisional change to storage regulation in the Energy Industry Act also allows massive batteries, so-called grid boosters proposed by transmission system operators, or TSOs, to go ahead in order to make Germany's power grid future proof, the ministry added.

"With the further expansion of renewables, the expansion of the grid must also progress rapidly so that the electricity can be transported from generation zones in the north to consumption centers in the south or west," Altmaier said, adding that the reforms still need approval in the upper house, expected in the spring.

In January 2020, BNetzA confirmed two grid booster projects with a combined capacity of 450 MW, reducing the need for redispatch measures.

"Grid boosters allow for more back-up transmission capacity to be used in case of sudden disruption as the batteries can absorb surplus wind in seconds and discharge to offset supply shortages," a spokesperson for grid operator TenneT TSO GmbH told S&P Global Platts at the time, with its projects planned at Audorf-Sued near the North Sea coast and Ottenhoffen near Munich.

TransnetBW GmbH plans a 250-MW battery at Kupferzell, a 380-kV substation equidistant from Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Nuremberg.

First 2035 grid plan draft

Meanwhile, German TSOs on Jan. 29 published the first draft of the next network development plan that looks for the first time at grid projects required with a view to 2035 and 2040 based on the scenario frameworks approved by BNetzA.

The scenarios include the measures and targets set by the 2030 climate and coal exit laws, boosting electricity demand, while renewables capacity is set to double.

The TSOs' 2035 draft plan includes projects with an investment volume of up to €115 billion, with up to €76.5 billion for onshore grid measures and up to €38.5 billion for offshore grid links.

The new plan almost doubles the proposed length of new alternating current power cables to up to 7,325 kilometers and up to 4,965 km for new direct current links compared to the 2030 plan, it said. Most of the new projects for 2035 are enhancements of existing routes.

Publication of the draft starts a four-week consultation period to Feb. 28 with comments flowing into a second draft alongside first comments by BNetzA, the TSOs said.

Andreas Franke is a reporter with S&P Global Platts. S&P Global Market Intelligence and S&P Global Platts are owned by S&P Global Inc.