In order reach its goal of covering at least 80 percent of power needs with renewable energies by 2050, Germany must overhaul its network infrastructure. Among other things, it must expand the capacity of its distribution networks to transport electricity. At the same time, these networks are increasingly assuming a new function: They already collect around 99 percent of all solar power and around 95 percent of wind power produced on a regional basis, thus functioning as intelligent power collectors and distributors.
Most wind power production takes place on the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts, while most solar production occurs in southern Germany.
Electricity needs in Germany are not homogeneously distributed. Industrial and economic centres with large electricity needs are mainly in the Ruhr Valley, the Rhine-Main area, around Stuttgart and in the Nuremburg-Munich region.
The main challenge lies in matching where and when production and demand occur. Studies have shown that networks are much better at meeting this challenge, both technically and in terms of costs, than storage batteries. The revamping and expansion of power networks is therefore a central concern for the success of the Energiewende.
In a continuing dialogue with experts from politics, civil society, academia and business, Agora Energiewende is examining which infrastructure we will need in the future for a reliable power supply, largely comprised of renewable energies. We are examining the power network not only in terms of transport, but also in terms of distribution. The use of intelligent information and communications technology, as well as reliable power electronics are important for maximising the stability of the system. We are also considering how storage systems could be used in an efficient network.