European networks: investing for development

Published: 2012-03-26

According to the association of European power distributors, 104 billion euros will have to be invested over the next decade to update networks and build new ones. Administrative obstacles and public acceptance issues

European networks: investing for development

In order to ensure secure supplies and promote Europe’s sustainable development, it is necessary to update networks and build new ones. To this end, over the next 10 years about 104 billion euros will have to be invested.  The latter was stated in the Ten-year network development plan compiled by  ENTSO-E, the association of European electricity distributors.

This significant sum is justified by the amount of proposals, more than 100 projects to be developed across Europe  by 2022, totaling  51,500 km of high-voltage lines.

Half of the required investments concern Central-Southern Europe, including Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, a great portion of Germany and Slovenia. In this area, 23,800 km of new power ducts will be built, totaling 52 billion euros. In particular, Italy will need an additional capacity ranging between 1000 and 2000 MW, to be imported from France and Switzerland.

These new European projects are mostly the consequence of the growth of renewable energy, since 80% of these projects are the direct or indirect effect of their integration into Europe’s electricity grid, for a total of 125,000 MW.

Their development will abate emissions, specifically some 170 million tonnes of CO2 will be saved each year, of which 150 million as a consequence of the increased renewable generation and 20 million of the enhanced network efficiency resulting from these interventions. In economic terms, these new projects will produce 5% savings on operational costs.

ENTSO-E mentions, among the difficulties that hinder the achievement of the Plan, administrative obstacles that still exist and controversies regarding local acceptance. For instance, the study of the previous development plan shows that one project out of three has been delayed because of procedural hang-ups and public opposition. Therefore, the association of electricity distributors calls for urgent regulations aimed at speeding up the development of projects.