Gridlock puts growth at risk

Full capacity raises question marks over future projects, writes journalist Sian Crampsie

The expansion of Dutch onshore wind in the coming years is being threatened by severe limitations on new grid capacity in northern areas of the country.

Colleague Imke Maassen van den Brink interviewed by reNEWS magazine

Among the Dutch distribution system operators (DSOs) reporting concerns is Liander, which said there is no capacity for new projects in parts of Flevoland province or Zuid Holland, and limited access in Friesland. Enexis reported that there is no capacity in parts of Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel.

Transmission system operator TenneT has also said it is challenged by high renewables growth, while enterprise agency RVO said the grid is under considerable pressure.

New investment is required to beef-up the system, however, experts fear such upgrades will take years to come on stream.

“In the most congested areas, investment is needed in the high voltage transmission network, and this is likely to take 10 years to realise,” said Blix Consultancy strategy and finance manager Imke Maassen-van den Brink.

The current pipeline of projects, including the 1.3GW due online in the next two years, will be accommodated, but there are question marks about future schemes.

TenneT is working with the DSOs and local authorities to find a solution so that wind can support the new 35 terawatt-hour target for onshore renewables by 2030.

Grid development and strategy manager Robert Kuik added: “We are also talking to the Ministry of Economic Affairs about solving the issues in other ways – for example, relaxing the criteria around using redundancy on the grid to facilitate transportation needs from renewable energy sources in the short term.”

Developers are meanwhile waiting for the final details to be set out for the new stimulation of sustainable energy production, the SDE++ renewables support regime, which will come into effect in 2020.

SDE++ will subsidise the price difference between renewable and fossil energy technologies, with the competition based on emissions offsets rather than energy yield, raising the prospect of bids from carbon capture and storage projects as well as other clean technologies.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Eric Wiebes said it was likely that one SDE++ auction would be held each year, with the first expected to take place in the summer of 2020.

The last SDE+ auction will open at the end of October 2019 for two weeks, he added.

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Image source of congestion: Enexis website