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One result of the increasing expansion of renewable energy sources is the transformation of power generation structures. This in turn is leading to new demands on electricity transmission, and thus also on the network infrastructure. Because more electricity is being fed in from fluctuating renewable energy sources and most generation is remote from the load centers, it has become essential to reinforce and expand the power transmission network. Other key factors driving the need for network expansion include an increase in cross-border electricity exchanges between countries, the changes in conventional power station locations, and increasing urbanization.
More overhead lines are not always the method of choice. The focus is increasingly on underground electricity transmission solutions. Siemens has a range of solutions on offer in this area: gas-insulated transmission lines (GIL) and extensive services for high-voltage cable systems.
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Alternatives to overhead lines
The constantly growing need for power for both industrial and residential consumers, the integration of renewables, and the increasing development of megacities all require power networks to undergo further expansion. The decoupling of generation and consumption is making it increasingly complicated to guarantee secure and stable electricity transmission in a way that is environmentally friendly and acceptable to society.
The existing power networks have to transport growing power volumes, often close to their load limits. At the same time, the distances between the locations where electricity is generated and consumed are increasing, especially in the case of renewables. In Germany, for example, larger and larger wind farms are taking shape in the north of the country, and photovoltaic systems in the south, as part of the transformation to a new energy mix. All of this electricity has to be transported.
In addition, the development of megacities and the growth in new consumers, such as in the area of electromobility, necessitate greater high-power transmission capabilities in urban centers, despite the very limited amount of space available. In consequence of such situations, the use of compact, underground transmission solutions is becoming more and more important.
Underground power transmission
Underground power transmission will help protect the appearance of the landscape, reducing the visual impact. At the same time, underground transmission will considerably reduce the amount of land required.
High-power electricity transmission poses a major challenge for project developers and planners: their objective is to guarantee a secure, reasonably priced, and environmentally friendly electricity supply. In some regions, there may also be societal challenges: public acceptance of large-scale power lines is often minimal, and this is where an underground arrangement may prove the more appropriate solution. In larger cities and in the vicinity of central infrastructure complexes such as airports, there is often insufficient space for extensive overhead lines, and here, too, compact underground solutions prove to be the method of choice.
If overhead lines are not an option for electricity transmission, the lines must be laid underground. Siemens has successfully implemented many electricity line projects for customers in more than 20 countries, and offers a complete portfolio of solutions for gas-insulated transmission lines (GIL) and high-voltage cable systems.