21 Jul 2023, 13:45
Benjamin Wehrmann

State agency vows to speed up Germany’s transmission grid buildout


The slow development of Germany’s transmission grid is risking the success of the country’s energy transition and climate policy, and the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has vowed to address the problem with great urgency. “We have a huge responsibility to accelerate necessary processes wherever and however we can,” the agency’s president, and his deputy, Klaus Müller and Barbie Haller, have said in a guest commentary for business daily Handelsblatt. The BNetzA last year took measures to facilitate the construction of new transmission lines by mandating the use of existing routes whenever possible. “Assessing alternatives is going to cost less time in the future,” the BNetzA leaders argued. Moreover, the agency reclassified the construction of new grid connections in so-called “preferential areas,” which require less mandatory participation of stakeholders. Lenghty participation procedures so far have taken “several years” of additional preparation time in many cases. Another measure taken by the agency is to greenlight preparatory works for construction even if projects have not yet obtained a full permit. “This, for example, is the case when it comes to preparing compensation areas for amphibians or migrating birds,” where strict seasonal restrictions sometimes leave only a short period of time to act each year.

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 recently said in a state-of-play document. However, until now the permit procedures for only 470 km are finalised, it said. The BNetzA heads said they expect permits to reach up to 2,800 kilometres in 2024 and about 4,400 kilometres in the year after that. The construction of new transmission lines to transfer electricity from decentral production locations to consumers is considered to be as important an element of the energy transition as the expansion of renewable power sources.

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