Reuters reports that a new study suggests that blackouts in European countries dependant on renewable energy could increase this decade.

Growth in the renewable energy sector in the last decade and a lack of incentives to encourage European electrical utilities to invest in new power transmission capabilities mean there is an increased risk of blackouts. A joint report by German financial and insurance group Allianz and the Chief Risk Officer Forum says the promotion of renewables like wind and solar has come at the price of reliability.

Aging power infrastructure means the European Union will need to make investments of between 23 billion and 28 billion euros over the next five years, the report said.

Worldwide, an investment of $13.6 trillion will be needed by 2030 to meet demand — half for transmission and distribution.

The report said industrial blackouts are at the greatest risk which can disrupt “just in time” manufacturing and economic growth. Blackouts in the US up to an annual economic loss between $104 billion and $164 billion.

As renewables become more prevalent, technological innovations in storing electricity — such as pumped-storage hydropower or molten salt thermal storage — are needed, the report said.  Otherwise, the grid will be overloaded and utilities will either have to shed power, resulting in blackouts, or unload the electricity to others at a loss.

“Smart grids with metering, communication, and control technologies and new storage and transport capacities are needed to handle the growth of renewable energies,” Allianz’s Michael Bruch said.

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