World needs $700 bln in power grid upgrades

Tue Nov 6, 2012 1:09pm GMT

By Muriel Boselli

PARIS (Reuters) - The world's 16 largest power grids need to invest $700 billion over the next 10 years to cope with a rising share of renewable energy in mature economies and with soaring demand in emerging nations, French power grid RTE said.

The 16 grids, which transport 70 percent of the world's electricity demand, expect global demand to jump 50 percent by 2022, when renewable energy will equal the capacity of 250 medium-sized nuclear reactors.

"In North America and in Europe, the need for investment is a necessity to connect dozens of thousands of megawatts of solar and wind power," Dominique Maillard, head of RTE, said in an interview on the sidelines of a meeting of the GO 15 lobby, which unites grid operators from the United States, South Africa, China, France and other countries.

The operators, which operate 2.2 million km of transmission lines, say grids will need to be enhanced to ensure the safe connection and transport of renewable energy.

"If we don't succeed in developing networks properly, either the energy transition will remain a pretty expression that was never applied, or we will run the risk of living dangerously," Maillard said, referring to a heightened risk of blackouts.

RTE, fully owned by EDF, plans to invest some 15 billion euros by 2020.

The European Climate Foundation, a privately funded organisation, said last year companies and governments in the European Union would have to spend 46 billion euros on grid systems by 2020 and another 68 billion euros by 2030.

While financing such sums could prove difficult because of the economic crisis, the main problem in Europe is the widening gap between investment decisions and the actual commissioning of projects because of legal appeals from local people.   Continued...

An employee works on electric pylons at a power station in Greater Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi June 8, 2012. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.