Romania will reach 4 GW of battery electricity storage capacity by 2030 and over 11 GW by 2050. Still, early adoption may require policy support and some level of grant funding, according to the Country Report on Climate and Development for Romania of the World Bank Group, released on Tuesday.
“Battery storage – critical to supporting the rapid growth of electricity from renewable sources – is expected to reach 4 GW of capacity by 2030 and over 11 GW by 2050, although early adoption may require policy support and a certain level of financing through grants”, the report cited by Agerpres states.
The path proposed by BM experts for decarbonization requires a varied mix of electricity generation sources, considering a greater degree of electrification of the entire economy. Modeling shows that 47% of electricity generation will come from solar and wind sources by 2050, and another 7% will come from hydropower, 5% from green hydrogen and 1% from other renewable sources. Thus, the share of renewable sources will reach 60%.
“Electricity demand more than doubles between 2022 and 2050 in all projected net-zero scenarios. As a result, the growth and consolidation of electricity transmission and distribution networks will be essential”, the report also indicates.
According to the cited source, Romania is still very dependent on fossil fuels for its energy needs, with approximately 72% of the total energy available in Romania currently dependent on fossil fuels.
The transport sector is the main consumer of petroleum products, coal is converted into electricity or consumed directly by the industrial sector, and natural gas is widely used in industry and households, including what is converted into electricity and heating centralized. Moreover, Romania’s energy intensity remains more than 60% higher than the EU average despite decreasing by 30% in the last ten years.
The document points out that the energy sector is still responsible for approximately two-thirds of the total emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in Romania, but the current decarbonization policies are built starting from the emission reductions already achieved.
Thus, the cited source emphasizes that emissions associated with energy decreased by 37% between 1988 and 1994, largely due to the structural change in the economy, and by 21.5% between 1994 and 2019.
“To meet Net0@2050, Romania will need to make major progress in energy generation and consumption and expand the electrification of the economy. Short-term priorities should include rapidly improving energy efficiency, extensive deployment of renewables and greater electrification of the economy – particularly in road transport, light industry and low-temperature heating for buildings,” the WB recommends.
The report also notes that while reducing emissions from power generation can rely on technologies that already exist and are affordable, it will be critical to lay the groundwork for long-term decarbonisation of sectors where reducing emissions is difficult (from e.g. heavy industry, agriculture, waste management and freight transport). This
last step will depend on the maturation of technological progress in the final years of the transition, such as green hydrogen and carbon capture, use and storage.
At the same time, reducing the demand for fossil fuels would contribute to energy security, mitigating supply and price risks. Although it is the largest producer of oil and gas in Central and Eastern Europe, Romania still imports 32.1% of the energy it needs, which exposes it to volatile global energy prices and potential supply disruptions. In 2021, the report’s authors indicate that Romania imported 69% of the oil, 23.4% of the gas and 24.1% of the coal it consumed.
“Although the electricity generation matrix in Romania is diversified, fossil fuels still have an important role. In 2021, fossil fuels contributed approximately 36% of Romania’s electricity production, with the remaining 64% coming from renewable sources and nuclear energy. The installed capacity represents 16.5 GW, with 7 GW on average delivered to the system, of which 46% is consumed by industry, 31% by households and 19% by the service sector,” the report states.
In this context, the decarbonisation of electricity generation requires, in the short term, the phasing out of coal-based energy. Coal covers less than 18% of electricity generation but contributes over 68% to sectoral emissions. The phase-out of coal-fired generation is due to be completed by 2032, but together with the possible increase in electricity demand due to natural growth and the expansion of electrification, this will put pressure on supply.
According to the experts of the World Bank, for their approach, three main tools are available, one of them being the additional generation based on non-fossil fuels, Romania has the highest generation potential from the wind source in South-Eastern Europe, estimated at approximately 14,000 MW or 23 TWh per year.
The National Integrated Energy and Climate Change Plan (PNIESC) 2021-2030 aims to add 6,000 MW of electricity generated from solar and wind power, 1,100 MW from hydraulic power and 675 MW from nuclear power by 2030 compared to 2015 levels.
Another tool would be additional gas-fired generation. PNIESC indicates adding 1,400 MW of gas-fired generation capacity by 2030 to ensure the system is flexible enough to handle more renewable energy. However the EU Taxonomy of Sustainable Activities defines strict conditions for the eligibility of new investments in gas-fired power plants for EU funding, which requires a switch to low-carbon gases by 2035.
The third tool recommended by the WB is energy efficiency and conservation, progress in this segment being essential to reduce pressure on electricity supply, reduce emissions cost-effectively, increase industrial competitiveness and generate cheaper electricity for end users.
On the other hand, the report points out that to manage the expected increase in the percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources and a potential decrease in the availability of hydropower, major investments in the infrastructure associated with electricity will be required.
Electricity generation is highly concentrated in eastern Romania, near the Black Sea.
“A stronger energy transmission system will be needed to connect the region’s capacity with demand centers in the west of the country, and investment in auxiliary services and backup capacity will be needed to ensure security of supply. Moreover, the consolidation of international interconnections will ensure energy security and facilitate the export of renewable energy. Transelectrica, the operator of the Romanian transmission system, has committed to invest 1.4 billion euros by 2031 to modernize transmission networks, integrate power from renewable sources and increase the share of regional interconnected capacity up to the 15% threshold provided by the EU (see more details on investments in Chapter 4). PNIESC estimates a need for 400 MW of battery storage by 2030, but to achieve regional climate neutrality by 2050, more will be needed,” the document states.
It also shows that water resources are essential for Romania’s energy security and decarbonization, with approximately 50% of the country’s electricity generation coming from hydraulic and nuclear energy.
“Precipitation variability and water demand are increasing, so balancing the needs of all water users will be even more complex. The drought of 2022 was a harbinger of the challenges to come – hydropower generation fell to an all-time low, nuclear power plants were almost shut down due to reduced water flow on the Danube, and over 200 small towns needed cisterns to supply water. Moreover, the generation of electricity from hydro sources could be affected by extreme floods, which could damage dams and power plants and require the use of reservoirs to control floods”, warn the report’s authors.