Energy minister wants to prioritise crucial grid projects – and meet critics in Berlin
On a visit to communities affected by new grid development, German energy minister Peter Altmaier said the transition to an energy system based largely on renewables was a project for the whole community that couldn't be implemented by going over peoples' heads. He was speaking at the site of the new Ultranet high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line in North Rhine-Westphalia. Unlike other new connections, Ultranet is to be built on existing pylons. "We will start to prioritise our efforts so that crucial lines can be completed,” Altmaier said, adding opponents of the new infrastructure would be brought into the process.
Construction is already under way on Ultranet, one of three major new "power highways" that are to bring wind power from the north of Germany to industrial centres in the south, while other segments have been held up by local protests.
“The success of the grid expansion will be determined on a local level, not by making new laws," Hans-Jürgen Brick, member of the management board at transmission grid operator Amprion said. Addressing residents of the town of Hürth who are fighting for an underground cable rather than overhead lines, as well as local farmers who want ongoing payments rather than one-off compensation for having pylons built on their land, Altmaier said he would set up talks but couldn't make any promises.
Altmaier will hold a grid conference with all stakeholders on 20 September 2018 in Berlin, he announced.