DENA Unveils Climate-Neutral Energy Infrastructure Plan

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DENA Unveils Climate-Neutral Energy Infrastructure Plan

DENA Unveils Climate-Neutral Energy Infrastructure Plan

July 21, 2023

Berlin, March 21, 2023. The German Energy Agency (DENA) has today released an impetus paper that demonstrates how local, grid-bound energy infrastructures can meet the transformation towards climate neutrality. The paper was developed as part of the DENA Practice Dialogue on Integrated Energy Infrastructures, conducted by DENA in collaboration with EWE NETZ, Rheinische NETZGesellschaft, Stadtwerke München, and Stromnetz Hamburg. "The Practice Dialogue on Integrated Energy Infrastructures highlights the importance of forward-looking and coordinated planning of local networks for electricity, gas or hydrogen, and heat to achieve climate neutrality. Local energy network planning and regional energy scenarios are of great significance in this regard," says Andreas Kuhlmann, CEO of DENA. "Close integration of planning for different networks and coordination with municipal heat planning on the one hand and system development strategy on the other is crucial for the transformation of local infrastructures. Now it is important to create structures for cooperation among stakeholders."


The transition to climate neutrality requires significant changes and adaptations in energy infrastructures. Particularly at the local level, extensive electrification of heat supply and transportation, as well as the transition to climate-neutral energy carriers, necessitate significant adjustments to various energy networks. This includes the extensive expansion of electricity grids to integrate new consumers and renewable energy generation. While gas networks can be partially transitioned to use hydrogen, they will particularly undergo significant transformation at the distribution network level. Heating networks, especially in urban areas, require substantial expansion and decarbonization.


The necessary adjustments to networks present considerable challenges for network operators and municipalities. Investments in energy distribution networks are long-term assets for companies and require coordinated planning and implementation at the regional and local levels. Additionally, the stakeholder landscape in electricity and gas distribution networks, as well as in the heating network sector, is highly heterogeneous; different actor constellations and non-overlapping network areas further complicate targeted exchange. The Practice Dialogue has shown that a successful transformation requires clear target images for future energy supply at the local level, as well as a regulated exchange process between different network operators and municipalities. This allows for a coordinated and integrated planning of local infrastructures.



As part of the Practice Dialogue, five proposals were developed to enable the planning and implementation of necessary infrastructure adaptations:

  1. Regional energy scenarios can bridge national strategies and planning instruments such as the system development strategy with local instruments like municipal heat planning.
  2. Local energy network planning should complement the important instrument of municipal heat planning and expand it to encompass a cross-sectoral local strategy for the transformation of grid-bound infrastructures. This can establish binding transformation plans for local infrastructures.
  3. Establishing an energy coordination office within municipal administration can bring together responsibilities distributed among various specialized authorities, enabling efficient and integrated planning and implementation with network operators.
  4. Flexible electricity demand can optimize electricity grid expansion and make network operations more efficient. This requires advancing the digitization of distribution networks and creating the regulatory framework to activate flexibility potentials.
  5. The current regulatory framework for network operators must be further developed to enable sustainable network planning. Firstly, forward-looking planning should be better incentivized. Secondly, timely and appropriate solutions for the transformation and possible decommissioning of parts of the gas distribution network, along with their financing, need to be found.

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