European trade bodies team up to map need for distribution grid investment

The European electricity sector is in the midst of a fundamental transformation. The drive towards climate neutrality, combined with rapidly falling prices for renewables generation costs, has triggered an accelerated decentralisation of European power. It also resulted in new and more complex flows of electricity and an additional need for distribution grid reinforcements over the coming decade. The European trade bodies E.DSO. and Eurelectric are now teaming up to assess the investment needs.

Strong trends of decentralisation of the power sector and increased electrification of end-use sectors are set to continue and intensify. The agreed political targets for climate and energy for 2030 will require connecting between 350 GW and 400 GW of additional renewable energy capacity in the coming 10 years.

At the same time, plans to progressively electrify transport, buildings and industry are expected to add significant load to the distribution grids. Specifically, more than 30 million electric cars are expected to hit the road in Europe over the next decade. Already by 2025, the EU plans to have installed at least 1 million public EV charging points.

The higher shares of renewable energy and progressive electrification will require additional investments to reinforce the European distribution grids.

To map the investment needs, two prominent European trade bodies have agreed to team up and develop a joint assessment; E.DSO and Eurelectric represent European distribution system operators and the overall electricity industry respectively and combined, their members connect over 95% of Europe’s electricity consumers.

Over the coming months, the two associations will work together to quantify the investment needs of a distribution network that can deliver on the 2030 decarbonisation ambitions.

The study, conducted with analytical support from Monitor Deloitte, will assess the main drivers and connected costs of optimising and modernising the low-voltage infrastructure. The input will be provided by a consortium of 10 national associations and companies, ensuring a robust geographical and technical spread. The countries covered by the study will include: Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland and Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

Kristian Ruby, Secretary General of Eurelectric said:

“The 2020s will be the decade of the DSOs. Strengthened distribution networks are essential for consumers to reap the full benefits of a future with increased electrification and higher shares of renewables. It is important to understand the investment needs in this area in order to deliver on the European Green Deal.”

Roberto Zangrandi, Secretary General of EDSO, said:

“The leading European DSOs know the Energy Transition largely relies on them. Their investments are well over 20 billion euros per year — the need to allocate this effort in the best, most effective way is then crucial.  We need to collaborate to make sure there are no dispersions; and to enable market actors and active consumers properly.”

The study will be concluded by the end of 2020. It is the first EU-wide analysis separating data from distribution and transmission system operators. It will be an important resource for policy makers, providing data on investment needs, identifying barriers and including recommendations for regulatory frameworks and tariff structures. Additionally, it will serve at informing the Ten Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP) that must reflect the increasingly decentralised electricity sector.

European Distribution System Operators (E.DSO) is the key-interface between Europe’s leading DSOs and the European institutions, developing large-scale smart grid technologies, new market designs and regulation. E.DSO gathers 41 leading DSOs in 24 countries, including 2 national associations, How? By shaping smarter grids for your future.

Eurelectric represents the interests of the European electricity industry. With members in over 30 European countries, we speak for more than 3,500 companies in power generation, distribution and supply. We seek to contribute to the competitiveness of our industry, provide effective representation in public affairs and promote the role of electricity in the advancement of society. For more information, visit: eurelectric.org

  • Ioana Petcu, Press & Media Advisor: ipetcu@eurelectric.org, + 32 470 45 35 89