The functioning of our society is nowadays bound to a secure, reliable and economic electricity supply. 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, in face of changed general conditions, transmission grid operators are facing new challenges. Besides the market price-based power plant operation, rising electricity consumption, new power plants and above all, 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 the 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 2016
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 2015. 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 in the next ten years (2017 – 2026). 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 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 2016, all relevant market participants had the opportunity to submit comments on the NDP 2016. After APG had processed and checked the comments on the NDP, it was submitted to E-Control Austria for approval at the beginning of September. The approved NDP was published at the end of 2016.
Extensive grid reinforcement and expansion measures will have to be implemented in Austria by 2026 to meet the outlined challenges. The projects described in the APG Network Development Plan 2016 include:
- New transmission line projects extending over approx. 370 km
- Conversion of 390 km of transmission lines to a higher voltage level and installation of new conductors
- Construction and expansion of numerous substations with approximately 150 switchyards at voltage levels of 380/220/110 kV
- Construction of approximately 35 transformers with a total capacity of approx. 13,000 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 permitting procedural aspects and standardized public participation process
- Harmonization of limit values for commissioning and operation
- Implementation of the principle „Upgrade rather than (new) construction“
- Protection and conservation of existing routes (i. a. regarding substructures) and planned corridors
- Acceptance of network development as substantial part of the energy transition
- Definition of system relevant power plants and there regulatory classification
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 electricity market.