23 Oct 2023, 13:27
Julian Wettengel

German electricity grid expansion project starts early thanks to faster permitting regulations

Clean Energy Wire

German grid operator Amprion can start construction of a key power line seven months sooner than planned thanks to new regulations to speed up permitting procedures, said the economy ministry in a press release. One part of the direct current power link “A North,” meant to transport wind power from the North Sea to the industrial centres in western and southern Germany, was kickstarted today (23 October) after being allowed "early start of construction". This regulatory instrument enables the possibility of starting work on grid projects hundreds of kilometres long even before the planning approval decision for the entire project is issued. If it is foreseeable that the entire project will be approved, construction can already begin at non-critical points, said the economy ministry. “This speeds up the project and gives the developer more flexibility.” With a capacity of two gigawatts, A North is intended to help secure the electricity supply in southern Germany, where numerous power plants have been and are being taken off the grid due to the nuclear and coal phase-out, even while energy demand remains high, said the ministry.

The government has called for a faster permitting process to ensure a speedier grid expansion. Germany’s energy transition hinges on unlocking the power grid. The transition from fossil fuels will only succeed if there is sufficient infrastructure to support a very different kind of energy system based on scattered renewable power installations. To date, the country's electricity grid has not been able to make full use of all the renewable power it generates, at times even needing to curtail feed-in by renewables to avoid grid overload.

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