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Billion euro wires program to expand Europe's transmission

Around 80 GW of new wind power capacity is catered for as part of a -- 17 billion spending program over the next five years by Europe's transmissions system operators (TSOs) to improve grid networks and increase transmission capacity, says Europe's Union for the Coordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE). Most of the money will be spent on overhead transmission lines, it says in its first Transmission Development Plan, which outlines investment plans for the next ten years. "If, due to external pressure, a more extensive use of underground cables has to be considered, the investment costs would dramatically increase," it says. Up to 220 GW of new power generation capacity, taking into account decommissioning of old plant, could require connection in Europe in the next decade if all current plans proceed, it says, including the 80 GW of wind. UCTE says project plans can be affected by changes in oil prices, government energy and environmental policies, and increasing difficulties in getting new fossil fuel plant built due to public opposition. "It is almost certain that not all generation projects submitted to the TSO will be confirmed," it says, estimating actual demand on the system is likely to increase by just 90 GW. For TSOs, which rely on long term assessments for up to 15 years ahead, there is a "great deal of uncertainty," it says, regarding location and amount of future generation as well as the associated transmission needs.

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