Skip to content!

New Approaches to Power Grid Planning

Press Release of February 4, 2015

Future plans to expand the German electricity transmission grid will be based on scenarios which specifically include the federal government’s climate targets for the electricity sector. These are the findings of Christian von Hirschhausen and Claudia Kemfert, energy experts at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), one of the leading economic research institutions in Germany, presented in the latest issue of DIW Economic Bulletin. The plans also include a lower lignite capacity than previously, which the experts see as a positive step.

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) is one of the leading economic research institutions in Germany. Its core mandates are applied economic research and economic policy as well as provision of research infrastructure. As an independent non-profit institution, DIW Berlin is committed to serving the common good. The institute was founded in 1925 as Institut für Konjunkturforschung (Institute for economic cycle research). Since 1982, the Research Infrastructure SOEP (German Socio-Economic Panel Study), a long-term study, is affiliated to DIW Berlin. Thematically, the scientific work of the Institute is divided into nine Research Departments: Macroeconomics; Forecasting and Economic Policy; Development and Security; Energy, Transportation, Environment; Climate Policy; Firms and Markets; Competition and Consumers; Public Economics and Education and Family. The institute has been headquartered in Berlin since its founding. As a member of the Leibniz Society, DIW Berlin is predominantly publicly funded.

“Grid expansion can and should serve not only to secure electricity supply but also to protect the climate,” said DIW energy expert Christian von Hirschhausen. “That’s why the new 2025 scenario framework is a crucial step toward a sustainable electricity grid.” While previous grid development plans already took into account targets for the development of renewable energy sources, the nuclear phase-out, and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the 2025 scenario framework also contains scenarios that explicitly include German climate targets for the electricity sector. It states that CO2 emissions from power plants need to be reduced from 317 million tons in 2013 to 187 million tons by 2025 and to 134 million tons by 2035. The Network Development Plan is based on the scenario framework which, in turn, is based on the Federal Requirement Plan Act (Bundesbedarfsplangesetz, BBPIG).

The 2025 scenario framework also assumes a faster phase-out of lignite than in previous plans. The draft by transmission system operators provided for a substantial increase in lignite-fired capacity. However, depending on the scenario, the version now approved by the Federal Network Agency contains reduced capacity of five to seven gigawatts for lignite; this currently represents approximately one-third of Germany’s installed lignite power output.