In times of digitalisation, industrialization 4.0, availability of data and services 24/7 over the internet, internet of things and many other developments, a secure reliable and economically feasible electricity supply is becoming more important every day.
The functioning of our society is bound to a secure, reliable and economic electricity supply. Not only for future developments like the advancement of digitalization but also to gain the corresponding benefits, the availability of the infrastructure and therefore a secure power supply is an essential prerequisite. Besides the availability of sufficient generation capacities for satisfaction of electricity demand, appropriate grid capacities for transmission and distribution of electricity must be available.
In liberalised environment of European electricity industry and with a goal of an integrated European electricity market (q. v. „Clean Energy for All Europeans“ package of the European Commission), in face of changing general conditions, transmission grid operators are facing new challenges every day. Besides the market price-based power plant operation, rising electricity consumption, new power plants and above all, locally concentrated erection of volatile renewable energies (e.g. wind energy) influence significantly power flux and load in transmission grids. Overall, increasing and strongly fluctuating grid loads and consequently noticeably rising requirements for electricity grids are reported.
A powerful transmission grid infrastructure is a basis for a high security and reliability of electricity supply. It represents a backbone of Austrian business location and a basic requirement for the further development of renewable energy and attainment of Austrian and European energy and climate protection goals.
Network Development Plan 2017
The Network Development Plan (NDP) is a legal requirement (in accordance with § 37 ElWOG 2010) and is based on the long-term strategic planning in the APG Masterplan 2030, the Ten Year Network Development Plan from ENTSO-E and the NDP 2016. By publishing this plan, APG informs all market participants about the important transmission infrastructures in transmission grid of APG that need to be upgraded or expanded.
The NDP contains a list of investments that have already been decided upon, as well as projects that must be implemented in the next three years.In addition, the NDP also presents plans for the transmission system for the next ten years (2018 – 2027) on the basis of the development forecast for the energy sector. The projects presented in the NDP are categorised into projects of national and European interest and network connection projects.
During the consultation period from mid of June to mid of July 2017, all relevant market participants had the opportunity to submit comments on the NDP 2017. After APG had processed and checked the comments on the NDP, it was submitted to E-Control Austria for approval at the end of August. The approved NDP was published at the end of 2017.
After APG has processed and checked the comments on the NDP, it will be submitted to E-Control Austria for approval at the beginning of September. The publication of the approved NDP will be done at the end of this year.
Extensive grid reinforcement and expansion measures will have to be implemented in Austria by 2027 to meet the outlined challenges. The projects described in the APG Network Development Plan 2017 include:
- New transmission line projects extending over approx. 250 km
- Conversion of 100 km of transmission lines to a higher voltage level
- Reinforcement and reconstruction of 400 km of existing transmission lines
- Construction and expansion of numerous substations with approximately 140 switchbays at voltage levels of 380/220/110 kV
- Construction of approximately 30 transformers with a total capacity of approx. 10,500 MVA
- Extensive line coordination and optimisation measures are being implemented within the framework of major projects, e.g. the 380-kV Salzburg line (construction of new lines over approximately 128 km), leading to the removal of ca. 400 km old, low-capacity lines
- Furthermore, extensive reinforcement measures of substations and lines are planned
The processing of the projects described in the network development plan will require a major effort both from APG and the authorities responsible for approvals.
Necessary framework conditions for grid expansion and reconstruction in Austria
A significant factor for the implementation of the necessary reinforcements of the transmission grid is the duration of permitting procedures. These are currently very complex (federal and provincial legislation) and hence time consuming. Moreover, additional specific factors (existing or planned routes not or insufficiently secured; diverging limit values in the area of noise and/or EMFs; no separate authorisation system for the upgrade of power lines, lack of standard public participation process) constitute further obstacles to the expedition of procedures or increase of acceptance of involved parties.
In order to eliminate these deficits and, hence, implement the energy turnaround in Austria in a sustainable fashion, federal framework conditions have to be improved in the following Areas:
- Equality of the transmission grid with roads and rails in terms of authorisation process aspects and standardised public participation process
- Harmonisation of limit values for commissioning and operation
- Implementation of the principle "Upgrade before new construction"
- Fast integration of the European Infrastructure Package
The completion of the projects in the Network Development Plan and the associated expansion of grid capacities in line with the existing requirements are essential prerequisites to ensure the monitoring and implementation of the “Energiewende” (transition of the energy system towards RES). In addition to the integration of renewable energy sources, attention is focused in particular on guaranteeing the existing high level of security and reliability of supply for electricity consumers in Austria in the long term and the further development of the European electricity market.