Across Europe, major changes in the power generation sector are driving the development, expansion, and deployment of new and reconfigured electric transmission and distribution systems. The forces driving these changes include the retirement of much of the existing coal and nuclear generation fleet, the European Union’s energy policy goals, concerns over security of supply, climate change mitigation efforts, and the ongoing integration of distributed energy resources (DER) across the region. Power peak load is expected to grow between 8% and 28% by 2030, according to the Ten-Year Network Development Plan produced by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, or ENTSO-E.
The net generation capacity of the European power sector must grow from about 1,000 GW today to between 1,200 GW and 1,700 GW by 2030 in order to keep up with demand, according to the Plan. To accomplish this massive increase, the generation fleet must not only add new capacity, but also replace present units that will be retired in the next 15 years. This represents a 3%–4.6% expansion per year across all potential resources.
Age of Wind
Looking to 2030, the generation fleet in Europe will morph in a number of significant ways, including:
- Major nuclear generation plant retirements will happen across the region, including those in Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland. All present nuclear units in the United Kingdom are scheduled to be shut down, and France plans to reduce the share of nuclear to 50% of the country’s power supply by 2025. This adds up to a net 30 GW and 45 GW of nuclear capacity being shut down. At the same time, 20–30 GW of new nuclear capacity is expected to be added. New plants may be added in the United Kingdom, Finland, and Central Europe.
- New generation additions will occur in new locations. Wind farm development will be located where wind speeds are optimal; a significant share of the new generation fleet in Western Europe is being built on new sites, mostly in harbors.
- The shutdown of nuclear and fossil-fired units across Germany will require additional grid investment necessary to transport remote power to population centers.
- New generation capacity will primarily be made up of distributed wind and solar systems. The generation capacity of wind, solar, and biomass is expected to reach at least 405 GW and could triple, reaching more than 870 GW by 2030.
- DER will be located in Germany and in countries with favorable wind conditions, such as the Iberian and Italian peninsulas and Nordic countries bordering the North Sea.
- New hydropower capacity is expected to increase from 198 GW to between 220 GW and 240 GW, with most new development in the Alps, the Iberian Peninsula, and Norway.
These major generation shifts will be the primary drivers for investments in high-voltage transmission systems across the region. Navigant Research’s forthcoming report, Submarine Cable and High Voltage DC, will detail many of these changes and additions, which promise to transform Europe’s power sector.
Tags: Policy & Regulation, Power Generation, Renewable Energy, Transmission & Distribution, Utility Transformations
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