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EU risks power grid imbalance in post-2030 heat – experts


02 Aug 2023 14:29




02 Aug 2023 14:29

(Montel) The EU needs contingency plans to maintain power grid balance from 2030, when the share of renewables in the power mix will be much higher and the risk of summer heatwaves more frequent, an expert told Montel on Wednesday.

“What is lacking is a real stress test at a European level that includes the greater variability of renewables, especially by 2030,” said Phuc-Vinh Nguyen, energy researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute think tank.

In March, EU lawmakers agreed in principle to raise the bloc’s binding 2030 renewable energy target to 42.5% of energy consumption, compared with 32% previously, as part of efforts to cut the EU’s carbon emissions by at least 55% from 1990 levels by 2030.

Expand grids
It would be difficult around the turn of the decade to maintain Europe’s supply-demand balance in a scorching summer with low nuclear, wind and hydropower supply and high power consumption, said Nguyen.

“All EU countries more or less rely on electricity imports during heatwaves. So, if there’s a real problem, we could find ourselves in difficulty,” he said.

Expanding grids and interconnections was key to allowing power flows to better circulate within countries and across borders, said Yves Le Thieis, European power analyst at Compass Lexecon, adding that renewable storage development was also important.

Nguyen said the complementarity of European countries in terms of their demand pattern – peak demand varies from one country to the next – and their power mix could help during times of tight supply.

Ambitious plans
However, analysts expressed doubt on whether EU countries could boost grids and cross-border links in time, as some projects were technically difficult, notably subsea cables.

For instance, France plans to double its interconnections to 30 GW by 2035 at a cost of EUR 33bn, according to TSO RTE. Other European countries are also heavily betting on cross-border cables to secure power supply as they boost renewables and close nuclear and thermal capacities.

“These are heavy projects,” said Nicolas Goldberg from Colombus Consulting, noting there was less room for manoeuvre than with onshore projects. “There will be more interconnections in the future, but doubling the capacity is a bit ambitious.”

“We need to understand what the impact on the European power system would be if we don’t invest in the network quickly enough,” Nguyen added.

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