Between now and 2022, European transmission system operators need to invest EUR104bn ($128bn) in the refurbishment or construction of around 52 000 km of extra high-voltage power transmission lines.

This is the over-arching conclusion of the Ten-Year Network Development Plan 2012, published yesterday by ENTSO-E (the European Network Transmission Operators for Electricity), representing less than EUR0.02/kWh of consumers’ bills over the ten-year period.

According to ENTSO-E, the fast and massive development of renewable energy sources drives larger, more volatile, power flows over longer distances across Europe and is responsible for 80 out of 100 identified bottlenecks.

Thus, spending should be clustered into around 100 major investment projects across Europe, primarily to accommodate this unprecedented growth in renewable energy.

ENTSO-E also highlights that many of the concerns identified in the previous plan still remain, citing the main obstacles as a slow and cumbersome permitting process and alack of public acceptance for new power lines.

“All European TSOs are urging the European Commission and Parliament to move ahead with the draft regulation on guidelines for energy infrastructure priorities and, in particular, its provisions on streamlining permit granting procedures through a three-year time limit and the so-called one-stop-shops,” said Daniel Dobbeni, ENTSO-E’s president.

The latest plan determines that by extending the European grid by just 1.3 per cent a year would result in annual increases of 3 per cent in generation capacity and the reliable integration of 125 GW of renewable energy sources.

Under rules set out in the European Union’s (EU) third reform package for the energy market, ENTSO-E must publish ten-year network development plans every two years. The first was published in 2010.

The latest ten-year plan is submitted to ACER, the EU energy regulatory agency, for approval.

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