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Renewable Energy Transition in Germany: Additional 500 Billion Euros for Power Grids? Now, Habeck Authority Collects Its Own Numbers

Renewable Energy Transition in Germany is focusing on the distribution networks for electricity and gas. It is anticipated that by 2045 a significant portion of the gas network will be decommissioned, and the electricity grid operators will have to make substantial investments and modernizations in the foreseeable future. And that comes with a cost. Some media outlets are currently even talking about an additional 300 to 500 billion euros compared to the previous figures provided by the Federal Network Agency, an independent authority within the purview of Minister of Economic Affairs Robert Habeck. But is that true?

These reports are based on a statement from the Federal Network Agency itself: Distribution grid operators alone would have to make investments in the “low three-digit billion range” by 2030, said Barbie Haller, Vice President of the Federal Network Agency, at a press conference last Thursday. Specifically, she spoke of “150 billion euros by 2030.” In addition, “a higher three-digit billion figure for the transmission system operators, which may be in the mid-three-digit billion range,” she added.

This would multiply the investment needs – and massively increase the electricity bills of millions of citizens. Because so far, the Federal Network Agency had forecasted investments of 209 billion euros by 2037 for the transmission network, which includes the major power lines and cables. For the distribution network, the authority had projected expenses of 42.3 billion euros by 2032. This information is based on the Network Development Plan.

Federal Network Agency must revise the amounts upwards

In response to FOCUS online’s inquiry, the Federal Network Agency is now re-evaluating the amounts and suddenly saying something completely different: “We will receive reliable figures on the investment requirements in the electricity distribution networks from the network expansion plans at the end of April,” said Fiete Wulff, spokesperson for the Federal Network Agency.

Specifically, he said: “Currently, under considerable uncertainties, we consider an investment requirement of over 150 billion euros by 2045 to be plausible.” And according to the Network Development Plan, the investment requirement for the electricity transmission networks amounts to 300 billion euros by 2045, Wulff added.

So, the figures that have been circulating since the press conference are incorrect? Ms. Haller simply misspoke. “We have an accurate overview of the figures. And the precise figures are the ones that I mentioned to you,” Wulff told FOCUS online. So, this means:

  • Previous calculation for transmission network: 209 billion euros by 2037
  • Ms. Haller at the press conference: “mid three-digit billion figure” by 2030
  • New calculation for transmission network: 300 billion euros by 2045

And:

  • Previous calculation for distribution network: 42.3 billion euros by 2032
  • Ms. Haller at the press conference: “150 billion by 2030”
  • New calculation for distribution network: 150 billion euros by 2045

So, in the future, it will indeed be more expensive, but not on the scale of an additional 500 billion euros in costs, as some media have claimed. According to the network agency, the total investment requirements in the power grids could amount to around 450 billion euros by 2045. Previously, it was estimated at 250 billion euros. So, the calculation increases by 200 billion euros.

For consumers, this means that there will be additional costs for them as well. When asked specifically what this means for consumers’ wallets, the network agency only said, “that these investments will be depreciated over many decades and in each year, only accordingly lower shares of the costs will be incurred.”

Die Beiträge dazu werden über viele Jahre verteilt abgezahlt, so dass die Gebühren für die Nutzung der Netze jedes Jahr nur geringfügig ansteigen.

Was für Änderungen Gasnutzer erwarten können

Auf der Pressekonferenz stellte die Bundesnetzagentur ein Eckpunktepapier vor, das neue Regeln für die Berechnung der Netzentgelte, die von jedem Haushalt entrichtet werden, vorschlägt. Diese Entgelte decken sowohl die Investitionen als auch die laufenden Kosten für den Betrieb des Netzes ab. Angesichts der Energiewende und des sinkenden Bedarfs an Gas plant die Agentur, die Abschreibungszeiträume für Investitionen zu verkürzen. Dies würde es den Netzbetreibern ermöglichen, in den kommenden Jahren höhere Kosten auf die Netzentgelte umzulegen, als dies nach den bisherigen Regeln erlaubt ist.

Die Idee dahinter ist, die finanziellen Belastungen auf die derzeit noch zahlreichen Kunden zu verteilen. Bei einer längeren Abschreibungsdauer könnten die Netzbetreiber ihre Kosten erst dann geltend machen, wenn es nur noch wenige Gaskunden gibt. Dies würde die verbleibenden Kunden finanziell überfordern und könnte dazu führen, dass die Netzbetreiber auf einem Teil ihrer Investitionen sitzen bleiben.

Wenn der Vorschlag der Bundesnetzagentur umgesetzt wird, könnten die monatlichen Gasnetzentgelte pro Haushalt um einen einstelligen Eurobetrag steigen. Die endgültige Entscheidung steht jedoch noch aus, da die Energiewirtschaft die Möglichkeit hat, Stellung zu beziehen. Die finanziellen Auswirkungen dieser Änderungen werden voraussichtlich ab 2026 für die Verbraucher spürbar sein.

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