26 Jun 2023, 13:26
Julian Wettengel

Germany to issue power grid expansion building permits on a large scale from 2024 – agency head

Spiegel / Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) is set to substantially increase the number of permits to build planned electricity transmission lines needed for the shift to a climate-neutral energy system, reported Spiegel. The country plans to construct major “electricity highways” to connect the big supply of wind power in the north to consumers in the south, such as Suedlink and SuedOstLink. Progress is so far only “visible in individual pipeline sections,” agency head Klaus Müller told Spiegel, referring to the current low number of approved routes. “But from next year we will be issuing building permits on a large scale.”

About 14,000 kilometres of high voltage power lines are necessary for the energy transition, of which 7,400 fall into BNetzA's responsibility, the agency said in a state-of-play document. However, until now the permit procedures for only 440 km are finalised. This figure is set to double to 900 km by the end of the year, said the agency. From 2024 the permits would increase significantly, especially for the major projects Suedlink (operation planned for 2028) and SuedOstLink (2027), the agency added. With the approval of a transmission line (the so-called planning approval decision – Planfeststellungsbeschluss), the exact route of a transmission line is finalised and the responsible grid operator can start construction work. The document will be updated regularly, Müller said.

Germany’s power grid ranks among the most reliable in the world despite an increasing share of fluctuating renewable energy sources. The government has made the extension of the grid a priority to maintain this high level of resilience. However, expanding the electricity grid in Germany has proved a fraught process, plagued by public resistance. In response to public protests against overland powerlines and pylons, legislation has given priority to underground cables, although this technology is more expensive to install and maintain.

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