As former director of Energy System Planning (ESP) at TenneT, Peter Hoffmann has been instrumental in the development and promotion of Target Grid
Peter: 'Target Grid stems from future scenarios. In the Netherlands, from the Integrale Infrastructuurverkenning 2030-2050. In Germany, such complex analyses and calculations are made by the four TSOs in the Netzentwicklungsplan (NEP) and approved by the regulator. With those scenarios, you calculate the grid needed. What does the grid have to meet from 2030 to 2045? The investments for that future grid are laid down by the Netherlands and Germany in the Investment Plan (IP) and the Netzentwicklungsplan.
In both countries, people are working on Target Grid to paint an increasingly concrete picture of the 2045 electricity grid, the Target Grid Map. We share the same vision of the future. That is important, a system becomes more robust and supply-secure when countries work on it together.
We are convinced, for instance, that hydrogen will play an important role in the future energy system. Both countries see it as an energy carrier complementary to electricity that we can produce with green electricity. So with that viewpoint, we can plan for longer-term locations and connections with electrolysers. Following the ground rules we use with Target Grid, we place conversion close to locations with high renewable energy production to avoid unnecessary electricity transmission infrastructure. So for offshore wind, we do not put electrolysers in Bavaria. This shows how the basic rules for Target Grid guide grid design choices.
So to start understanding the big picture of grid design, it makes sense to first see the big developments that largely determine that design. By 2050, our energy consumption will have at least doubled and more and more of that energy will be used as electricity. For mobility, home heating and by industries. Impressive is also the development of solar and wind to produce electricity.
These basics come together in the scenario. Supplemented by the development of hydrogen, the choice of an additional DC grid alongside the AC grid, a scenario then emerges that allows us to calculate in increasing detail the grid needed in 2045. This is shown in the Target Grid Map.
Advantages of looking ahead
'Looking far ahead offers many advantages. For instance, if we want to scale up the infrastructure for DC technology, we can already put tenders in the market for that. By doing so, we encourage industry to develop and produce new materials and technologies. For example, to equip converter stations with standardised communication technology that works well for a meshed DC system, for which multiple suppliers can supply components.
This is how we encourage industry to develop new materials and techniques
With a sharp picture of the electricity grid of the future shown by the Target Grid Map, we can give a concrete picture. About the grid, about the investments needed to build that grid on time, about the staff to be available. We also see what it means for our company to build out the grid and then continue to manage it. So it has many advantages for our own planning to have a timely understanding of that.
However, Target Grid's vistas should above all create understanding and support. In current planning cycles, we look 10 years ahead, with an update every two years. And when the demand for investment picks up, the comment 'didn't you know that earlier?' comes quickly. With Target Grid, we know earlier! So it can contribute to more outside acceptance of the needed expansions.'