03 Jun 2024, 13:16
Edgar Meza

German agency says underground power cables more costly, damaging to environment

Der Spiegel / Clean Energy Wire

The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has said that using overhead powerlines for Germany's necessary grid expansion up to 2045 could save as much as 35 billion euros in investments, reported news magazine Der Spiegel. The BNetzA said original plans using underground cables for some of the major lines needed would amount to 320 billion euros, compared to investments of about 285 billion euros using overhead power lines.

The report comes amid growing support among federal and state political leaders for more overhead power lines. While Germany’s previous government prioritized underground cables for grid expansion due to the smaller visual impact on the landscape, several federal states now favour using cheaper overhead lines due to cost savings. In April, the BNetzA approved the route for the first section of the key SuedOstLink line, which will transmit offshore wind power from northern Germany to southern states.

BNetzA also published an environmental report on proposed projects. The report assesses the effects of a total of 185 measures that are necessary for a secure electricity supply in Germany. The regulator earlier this year confirmed the need for some 4,800 additional kilometres for the expansion of the electricity grid. The report provides an environmental assessment including 143 overhead lines, 15 underground cables and 27 submarine or underground cables. Based on its assessment, the agency expects high or very high environmental impacts for around a third of the projects, particularly longer underground cable projects and the offshore connection lines in the North and Baltic Seas.

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