27 Feb 2024, 13:19
Carolina Kyllmann

Planning approval for German high voltage power line accelerated thanks to reduced bureaucracy

Clean Energy Wire / Tagesspiegel Background

The completion time of the high voltage power line Nordostlink in northern Germany is set to be completed around one year faster thanks to government efforts to accelerate the approval procedures for grid expansion, grid operator TenneT, which is responsible for the power line project alongside 50 Herz, told Clean Energy Wire. The project no longer needs so-called ‘federal sector planning’, where the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) makes a decision on the route corridor, Tagesspiegel Background reported. This is made possible by the BNetzA's "preference areas," which allow companies to plan routes within a five- to ten-kilometre-wide strip and apply for planning approval directly, skipping the intermediate step of agreeing on a route with the BNetzA. The planning process is thus expected to be shortened by around one year.

The underground Nordostlink power line is around 165 kilometres long and will run between Heide in the state of Schleswig-Holstein and an area near Schwerin in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The grid operators presented a route proposal on 26 February. "Construction is expected to start in 2027, with 'cautiously optimistic' plans for commissioning from 2031," Tagesspiegel Background wrote.

Grid expansion in Germany is years behind original schedules for many projects. Lagging grid expansion could be a major bottleneck in the country's, and Europe's, energy transition, as phasing out fossil fuels will only succeed if there is sufficient infrastructure to support a very different kind of energy system based on decentralised renewable power production. According to the BNetzA, however, the pace of approval for grid expansion projects has picked up recently, and the agency hopes to issue power grid expansion building permits "on a large scale" this year.

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