The operators of the “Electricity Highways” in Germany today presented a first draft for the expansion of the high-voltage grid by 2045. The so-called grid development plan 2037/2045 (NEP) describes for the first time a power grid with which climate neutrality can be achieved by 2045, the four transmission system operators Amprion, TransnetBW, 50Hertz and Tennet explained in a joint statement.

The network operators assume that the annual electricity consumption in Germany will double to over 1000 terawatt hours by 2045 due to the abandonment of coal, oil and natural gas. To cover the plan, the installed capacity from renewable energies will increase fivefold to around 700 gigawatts in 2045. “Integrating them and enabling secure grid operation requires further grid expansion.”

Routes cost over 100 billion

The plan envisages a total of 14,200 kilometers of new routes, of which a good 5700 kilometers are on land and almost 8500 kilometers at sea. On land, the transmission system operators consider five new direct current connections to be necessary, four in a north-south direction and one in a west-east direction.

On land, the new routes are to be inserted primarily into existing routes. The transmission system operators put the costs for the projects newly identified in the draft at over 128 billion euros, almost a third of which for onshore lines.

The current high-voltage grid is over 35,000 kilometers long. At the end of September 2022, almost 12,000 kilometers were in planning and construction.

Grid expansion essential

The four network operators consider further acceleration of the network expansion to be crucial for the success of the energy transition. The planned massive increase in renewable energies will only take effect when the green electricity can be transported to the consumers. At the same time, the political goal is to completely decarbonize the electricity sector by 2035. “Most of the measures identified for 2045 will therefore already be needed in 2037.”

The NEP draft is now up for discussion. After a multi-stage process, the Federal Network Agency as the supervisory authority will send a list of projects to the Federal Ministry of Economics at the beginning of 2024. It then serves as the basis for a new version of the law in which the projects are laid down.

“It is absolutely clear that we need extensive further expansion of the power grid for a climate-neutral Germany by 2045,” said the President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller. He underlined the importance of the submitted draft: “For the first time, we now have a clear target image for an extra-high voltage grid with which climate neutrality would not only be a promise, but actually achievable.” His authority will examine the proposals very carefully before they become binding.

Transmission system operators on the subject of the network development plan Federal Network Agency on the subject of grid expansion