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European grid plans in some regions are falling behind the renewable targets, according to Ember

The grid plans of some European countries lag behind both national targets and market outlooks for wind and solar deployments, according to an analysis of think tank Ember, announced today.


The national transmission grid plans of 11 out of 26 countries are based on lower wind and solar installations than national targets.


The grids seem particularly unprepared for the expected solar expansion. Of 23 national grid plans with sufficient data, 19 come short of realistic market outlooks for solar by 2030, Ember said. Across the 23 plans, a total of 205 GW less solar capacity is being planned for than is expected under SolarPower Europe’s business-as-usual scenario by 2030.


“We can’t afford to overlook grids. They risk holding Europe’s supercharged energy transition back if plans aren’t updated. Making sure solar and wind can actually connect to the system is as critical as the panels and turbines themselves. There is no transition without transmission,” said Elisabeth Cremona, energy and climate data analyst at Ember.


The lack of alignment between grid plans and renewables outlook is likely due to the grid planning processes, where the information the plans are based on becomes outdated by the time they are published, while the rollout of clean technologies has accelerated. According to Ember, the current political attention to grids is an opportunity to tackle obstacles and make grid planning more nimble and anticipatory. The European Commission’s Grids Action Plan in November 2023 sets out key interventions, it notes.


The report further says REPowerEU underestimates annual grid investment by at least EUR 5 billion (USD 5.5bn). The European Commission’s estimate for annual grid investment is EUR 58.4 billion until 2030. However, this is already below current spending, which will probably need to be increased to catch up with the existing energy policy.


According to Ember, grid investments in EU member states are now about EUR 63 billion. About EUR 28 billion is earmarked for annual investment in the transmission grid, and EUR 35 billion was invested in distribution grids in 2022.



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