The electricity system would have to be massively converted and expanded to be climate neutral by 2035

The Agora Energiewende think tank believes that the federal government’s goal of increasing the share of renewable energies in electricity consumption to 100 percent by 2035 is fundamentally feasible. However, this requires a “real expansion turbo” for the renewables and the energy infrastructure, according to a study published by her.

Also in view of the increasing demand for electricity due to electric cars, heat pumps and electrolysers, among other things, around 595 TWh of electricity would have to be generated from renewable energies by 2030, twice as much as today, according to the study. By 2035 it would have to be 845 TWh, more than three times as much as today.

Wind and solar capacity will increase from 7 gigawatts (GW) in 2021 to 29 GW in 2025, peaking at 39 GW in 2030. At the same time, the electricity transmission network must grow from 15,000 today to around 50,000 circuit kilometers in 2035.

According to the study, in order for wind power and solar energy to become the mainstay of the climate-neutral electricity system in 2025, four times as much as today would have to be built each year, i.e. instead of 5 GW to an average of 21 GW between 2026 and 2035. In the same period, the capacity of onshore wind power would have to increase from 1.7 GW to 10 GW per year. The annual increase in wind energy at sea will peak at 8 GW and will amount to 6 GW from 2031 to 2035.

Wind turbines on land make the largest contribution to net renewable electricity generation at 40 percent. Photovoltaics make a contribution of one third, offshore wind energy accounts for a quarter. According to the study, in 2035 the share of renewables in electricity generation will be 89 percent direct generation and 7 percent production from hydrogen power plants. Since Germany is a net electricity exporter, the share of renewable energies in electricity consumption will then be over 100 percent.

Gas power plants will still be needed in the 2030s and will generate 107 TWh of electricity in 2030 and around 86 TWh in 2025. The installed capacity of gas-fired power plants will increase from 30 GW this year to 61 GW in 2025. However, natural gas is increasingly being replaced by hydrogen.

With increasing feed-in from fluctuating renewable energies and declining conventional power plant capacity, “new flexibility options” are required in order to be able to balance supply and demand. Electromobility and heat pumps should increasingly come onto the market, but if possible draw green electricity from the grid when there is no shortage. Electric cars, battery storage and pumped storage power plants offer potential here. E-cars, for example, could be charged flexibly. In addition, it is possible to use them as electricity storage through bidirectional charging (“VehicletoGrid”).

If 25 percent of electric cars were operated in this way in 2035 and an average of 40 percent of the vehicles were made available for the electricity market, the usable capacity would be 28 GW. Although this power can only be provided for short periods of a few hours, VehicletoGrid reduces the need for small battery storage systems in homes as well as the need for large battery storage systems. The authors also suggest introducing grid fees with dynamic electricity tariffs, using smarter distribution grid operations and smart meters consistently.


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