Europe’s power system 2040: completing the map
What should the electricity grid look like in 2040 to create maximum value for Europeans, ensure continuous access to electricity and deliver on the climate agenda? What would be the cost of not having the right grid by 2040? These questions are at the heart of the work of our association, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for electricity (ENTSO-E). For the first time, we have tried to evaluate the cost of non-grid for Europe.
Our new report ‘European Power System 2040: completing the map” and the six associated regional analysis are aiming to deep dive as far as possible on these strategic questions for Europe. These reports provide comprehensive quantitative assessments and qualitative analysis from TSO experts operating the European power system on a daily basis. People who are at the heart of the power system and its changes.
While it originally was designed on the basis of centralised predictable generation assets ensuring steady power flows, Europe’s power system has progressively evolved to integrate more decentralised and variable renewable energy sources. Already today almost a third of the capacity of the power generation mix is provided through variable renewables in Europe and European leaders have the objective to decarbonise their economy by 2050.
Renewables, particularly photovoltaics and wind onshore, have introduced new challenges for power system operation that have to orchestrate distributed, small scale generation assets scattered around their networks sometimes interacting through communities. The power networks that were built progressively in Europe since the early days of electricity have to adapt to this paradigm shift.
New actors and new services are needed to optimise flexibility at local, national, regional, and European level. New transactions will be made throughout the value chain. Power networks are best placed in orchestrating these new interactions and transactions. The power networks are fundamental in a transformation where sectors will need to further couple across electricity, gas, heating, transport and digital.
The power network will first need to be expanded with the necessary hardware infrastructure but also augmented through digitisation with new software apps to optimally flow competitive renewables from North to South of Europe, ultimately bridging offshore wind from Nordics with photovoltaics from Southern countries. The TSO community together with ENTSO-E is driving a programme to create the first pan-European platform for a seamless exchange of data across European grid operators. The Common Grid Model is the flagship of our efforts in smartening our networks preparing them for a system of systems, enabling consistent grid capacity calculations across Europe.
The cost of non-grid
Europe Power System 2040: completing the map analyses for the first time the costs -financial but also environmental – of not investing in European power networks while keeping ambitious decarbonation targets on generation. The analysis clearly demonstrates more interconnection and thus more capacity to exchange energy and support each other are today required to maintain European security of supply at least cost. Failing to invest in grids means exposing European citizens and companies to higher risk of disconnection.
On average, not building the necessary power links means that more than 150 terawatt/hour of green energy would go to waste each year as there would simply be no capacity to transport it. This is the equivalent to the forecast annual consumption of the Benelux in 2040. This green energy gone to waste also means increased emissions by 2040.
Finally, the cost of non-grid adds up to more than 40 billion euros per year of extra costs due to lack of market integration; preventing cheap generation to reach where demand is the highest. This is more than three times the cost of building all the lines and storage facilities foreseen in the pan-European grid development plan (the ENTSO-E 10-year network development plan) – which is estimated at 150 billion until 2030; that is +/- 10 billion per year.
The released reports represent indeed the second of three stages of our ENTSO-E Ten-Year Network Development Plan 2018, the master plan for grid development in Europe. The TYNDPs serve as basis for the European Project of Common Interest process; an initiative from the EU to develop cross-border networks.
The TYNDP is built on scenarios that are largely co-created with stakeholders. To increase transparency and trigger debate, ENTSO-E is planning to launch towards the end of the year a report and a web platform – an ENTSO-E PowerFacts Europe – as a one stop-shop for all data and analysis on the European power system transformation. We hope this will further foster constructive exchanges with all parts of society and facilitate development of new flexibility business models at the edge of our European power system. Indeed, commitment of all is needed to make this ambitious, but needed for our quality of life, journey a success!
ENTSO-E Secretary General