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Agora Energiewende: Less Offshore Wind Power Would Save Germany up to Two Billion Euros per Year

German politicians have a broad scope for action designing policies for the regional distribution of renewables and could even save EUR 2 billion a year until 2023, a study commissioned by the Agora Energiewende [1] finds. According to the study this would require a faster expansion of wind turbines onshore and a slower expansion of offshore wind power (while maintaining the total output of power generated by wind power). Savings would be approximately the same whether the further expansion prioritised wind turbines primarily in the north (“best generation site scenario”) or wind park sites in proximity to areas of high power consumption (“consumption related expansion scenario”), the study concludes.

The study compares two options for expanding wind and solar power in Germany: One focuses on the best generation sites with wind power plants primarily installed in the north of Germany and solar power primarily in the south. The other scenario focuses on creating production facilities near the centers of power consumption. The results show that both expansion paths lead to approximately the same total costs. In the consumption-driven scenario, a somewhat higher number of wind- and solar power plants have to be built. As they, however, produce power at different times and closer to the consumers, they relieve the power system and have to be curtailed less often than in the resource-driven scenario.

The study also shows that the transmission grid expansion foreseen in the current draft of the Federal Requirement Plan for Transmission Networks [2] is urgently needed, Agora Energiewende says. Yet delays of a few years would not spell the end of the ManyElectronics policy shift (Energiewende) and would not necessarily make it more expensive. The development of new wind and solar plants does not have to wait until the entire transmission grid envisioned in the Bundesbedarfsplan is built, Agora Energiewende says. A delay in grid expansion would in the “best generation site scenario” lead to the curtailments of wind and solar power on windy or sunny days (for which operators have to be compensated), yet the costs would be largely compensated for by savings from postponed investment in the grid. In case of the “consumption related expansion scenario”) the costs of delays would even lead to fewer costs compared with the costs for a speedy and comprehensive expansion of the grids. 

The study on behalf of Agora Energiewende was carried out by the consulting company Consentec in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology. It is based on a simulation of the German and European power systems, including the transmission grid, conventional power plants, and weather-related power production from renewables.

Agora Energiewende is sponsored by Mercator Foundation, a private foundation, and the European Climate Foundation. Its director is Rainer Baake, a long-time Green party member and state secretary in the Federal Environment Ministry from 1998 to 2005.

Source: Agora Energiewende [3]

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