22 Feb 2024, 14:13
Ruby Russel

Farmers and grid operators demand end to rules prioritising underground power lines in Germany

Handelsblatt / Clean Energy Wire

The German Farmers’ Association has joined transmission grid operators (TSOs) in demanding a change to legislation that favours the construction of underground power lines. The Federal Requirement Plan Act (Bundesbedarfsplangesetzes), which provides a legal framework for the construction of the high-voltage transmission lines needed to reshape the power grid as ever-more of Germany’s power supply comes from renewables, prioritises underground cables over the construction of visible pylons, which have been met with public resistance. Nina Scheer, a spokesperson for the SPD told Handelsblatt that the vulnerability of overhead lines to extreme weather and vandalization was also an important consideration. Both the government and Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) are “sceptical” about reverting to overhead lines. “So far, we are assuming that all projects will be realised as underground cables,” a BNetzA spokesperson told the paper.

However, burying grid infrastructure underground is more expensive. The TSOs say that switching to overhead lines could save up to 20 billion euros in costs, according to an article in newspaper Handelsblatt. The grid operators argue that this means higher grid fees, and therefore higher consumer power bills. It also entails considerable disruption for farmers and other landowners, they argue. “From an agricultural point of view, overhead lines have a significantly lower impact on the soil,” Bernhard Krüsken, secretary general of the German Farmers’ Association (DBV), said. With the Federal Requirement Plan Act due to be reviewed and updated, Krüsken said it was time “to finally listen to the long-standing demands of landowners” and welcomed the TSOs stance against underground cables.

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