* Power companies say local networks as important as big
* They publish cost estimate up to 2030
* Plan for big grids shrinks after consultation
* En route to be made law
FRANKFURT, Nov 26 Germany needs more than 30
billion euros of investment in its local electricity
distribution grids in the next two decades to ensure the success
of its switch from nuclear to renewable energy, local utility
association VKU said.
"VKU estimates that (existing) distribution grids need
investments of 25 billion euros ($32 billion) up to 2030," the
group said on Monday.
"On top of that, some 7 billion euros must be spent on
building up intelligent grids," it added.
VKU timed its statement to coincide with the presentation by
the energy regulator of a revised national plan to expand high
voltage grids, which transmit electricity across the country.
That plan, meant to become law by the end of the year, was
presented to the Economy Ministry on Monday after a
It envisages thousands of kilometres of new high voltage
power lines by 2022, to help carry volatile renewable energy,
for example offshore wind power, to mainland destinations
VKU said the lower voltage distribution grids, linking the
main lines with local consumers and industry, were 50 times
longer and their upgrades were just as crucial to the success of
the strategy for a greater share of renewables.
"Some 97 percent of green energy installations feed their
power into a distribution grid," said VKU director Hans-Joachim
This underscored the need to build up smart grids that
integrate and distribute the rising influx from solar panels and
wind turbines, he said. Smart grids can not only handle flows of
power to consumers but can also send locally produced
electricity, for example from householders with solar panels,
back into the grid.
Following Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident last year
Germany switched off large parts of its nuclear generation
capacity and decided to speed up its politically-inspired move
to relying more on renewable energy. By 2020, 35 percent of
power is due to be derived from green power.
The revised plan for new transmission line construction was
cut by 800 km to 3,000 km of new lines and some 70 planned
projects were cut to 50 from the initial plan in
Also, the new power "highways" will run in three corridors
from north to south, not four, the network regulator said.
The VKU group speaks for 1,400 local utility sector firms
that are involved in disseminating, producing and marketing
power, often in combination with gas, water and other services.
($1 = 0.7717 euros)
(Reporting by Vera Eckert,; Editing by Anthony Barker)