Portuguese grid operator targets €900m investment to enable renewables transition

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Image: Smartgrid.

Portuguese grid operator Redes Energéticas Nacionais has said it will invest more than €900 million (US$1.1 billion) by 2024 in technologies and improvements to the electricity network to support the country’s green energy transition.

Chief executive Rodrigo Costa said on Friday (14 May) that REN will raise its average annual CAPEX by 45% compared to what it was spending between 2018 and 2020 on connecting new renewable energy projects to the grid, improving the current network’s resilience, and bringing green hydrogen projects into the country’s power mix by 2024. Around 10% of the funding will be spent on initiatives to digitise grid operations, according to a statement, while the vast majority (70-75%) would go towards grid expansion to accommodate new renewable power projects.

The company announced its 2021-2024 Strategic Plan this week, which detailed plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% over the next nine years, compared with 2019 levels, and reach carbon neutrality by 2040.

In its presentation, REN said it would spend between €200 million and €235 million per year on capital investments, up from an average of €175 million previously.

The company also said it expects its EBITDA will be somewhere between €450 million and €470 million from 2021 to 2024, compared with an adjusted EBITDA of €463 million last year.

As Europe’s renewables capacity has grown substantially, electricity grids have struggled to keep up with the transition. Takis Sarris, the managing director of German EPC juwi’s Greek subsidiary, told PV Tech that there are currently projects in the range of 20 – 100MW that “cannot go into” the country’s upcoming capacity auctions “just because the IPTO cannot issue the grid connection terms”. In the US, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced it would hand out US$8.25 billion in loans to support grid transmission improvements as the Biden administration targets a decarbonised electricity grid by 2035.

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