With a symbolic groundbreaking, Bavaria’s Prime Minister Dr. Markus Söder, Bavaria’s Minister of State for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy Hubert Aiwanger and TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens gave the go-ahead for the construction of the Altheim – St. Peter line. The construction of the project’s first phase between the substation in Simbach am Inn, and the substation in St. Peter in Upper Austria is of international importance. Overall, the Altheim – St. Peter line connects wind power from the north and solar power from southern Germany with storage power plants in the Alps. Therefore, the Upper Austrian Economic Provincial Councilor Markus Achleitner and the Technical Director of Austrian Power Grid AG Gerhard Christiner also started the ground-breaking ceremony.
In the presence of representatives from politics, business and the media, Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. Markus Söder: “The grid expansion in Bavaria is progressing: today the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bavarian-Austrian power line project in Simbach in Lower Bavaria. Bavaria is fully committed to renewable energies and is investing an additional 500 million euros here. At the same time, however, the power lines must also be expanded. Therefore, we have again massively increased the staff in the approval department. Our energy supply must become even more independent and regional.”
Bavaria’s Economics and Energy Minister Hubert Aiwanger said: “The replacement of the Altheim – St. Peter line is a milestone for cooperation between Austria and Bavaria in the energy sector. Bavaria, and here, in particular, Lower Bavaria, is the leader in solar energy; Austria has invested heavily in pumped storage power plants and is expanding them further. These technologies complement each other perfectly. By upgrading the power grid, we ensure that the bottlenecks between power generators, storage facilities and power consumers are eliminated. However, this is not enough for the transformation of the Bavarian chemical triangle. Climate-neutral production requires both large amounts of hydrogen and green electricity. We have to be much faster in expanding the infrastructure, and I expect that TenneT will plan and build all the necessary lines for the power supply of the chemical triangle on time.”
TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens emphasised the European importance of the project: “The realisation of this interconnector to Austria is immensely important for the power supply in Bavaria and especially for the Bavarian chemical triangle. Pumped storage power plants are practically large batteries with which we can store renewable energies and call them up again when needed. We are dependent on the exchange of electricity with Austria and must also provide the necessary transport capacity for this. This first milestone today is a great success, and at the same time, we must do everything we can to quickly put the entire project and other necessary lines into operation. We are very happy that we are now feeling the tailwind and the political and official will to push ahead with the grid expansion.”
Economic Provincial Councilor of Upper Austria Markus Achleitner looked at the energy supply of Upper Austria: “For Upper Austria as a strong economic and industrial, federal state, a secure and stable power supply is of central importance. At the same time, the switch to renewable energies has special priority for Upper Austria. The Altheim – St. Peter power line makes a significant contribution to the achievement of both goals: The existing grid support and thus the secure power supply in the region is strengthened by the higher capacities of the new four-system 380 kV Germany line and the upgrading work in the St. Peter substation. In addition, the implementation of the energy transition through renewable energy production, the transformation of mobility and the decarbonization of industry will be further accelerated. This power line is therefore also an important part of the Upper Austrian power grid master plan, with which the expansion of the power grid infrastructure in Upper Austria is being consistently promoted together with the grid operators.”
Due to the central position of the project as a cross-border connection between Germany and Austria, Gerhard Christiner, Technical Director of the Austrian transmission system operator Austrian Power Grid, said: “Today’s groundbreaking is another milestone for the secure supply of energy in Germany, Austria and Europe. With the construction of the Germany line from Altheim to St. Peter, we are creating the necessary capacities to make affordable, green electricity available for society, business and industry to provide a secure supply. This line is also the necessary connection to transport electricity produced in Germany to Austria’s alpine electricity storage facilities. This European flagship project is proof that the path to a clean energy future can only succeed together with a high-capacity grid infrastructure that transcends national borders.”
After the ground-breaking ceremony, politicians and business representatives discussed the power supply and network expansion in the industrial location of southern Bavaria in a panel discussion. Sitting next to Tim Meyerjürgens were Rainer Haselbeck, President of the Lower Bavarian Government, Dr. Egon Leo Westphal, CEO of Bayernwerk AG, Dr. Peter von Zumbusch, Chairman of ChemDelta Bavaria, Martin Huber, CSU General Secretary, Michael Fahmüller, District Administrator of the Rottal-Inn district and Klaus Schmid, Mayor of the city of Simbach am Inn on the podium. Even though different solutions were discussed, all participants agreed that the energy transition would not work without grid expansion.
About Altheim – St. Peter
The existing 220-kilovolt line between Altheim and St. Peter is no longer sufficient for the emerging need for transport in south-eastern Bavaria and the changed generation structure. The project is also of great relevance for achieving climate neutrality in Bavaria by 2040 and the constantly increasing consumption situation, especially in the Bavarian chemical triangle. The line’s capacity, most of which dates from the 1930s, needs to be increased. Therefore, the existing 220-kilovolt line between Altheim and St. Peter will be expanded to 380 kilovolts as a replacement.
The Simbach – St. Peter section is the link to Upper Austria. On January 17, 2023, the government of Lower Bavaria sent TenneT the planning approval decision for this first part of the 380 kV replacement building Altheim – St. Peter. This ends an intensive planning and approval process. The focus is now on the rapid and safe implementation of the line construction in coordination with all those involved. Immediately after receiving the planning approval decision, TenneT began with so-called preparatory construction measures, including, for example, setting up the construction sites and creating work surfaces and access roads. The construction of the new section should be completed by autumn 2023. Commissioning is planned for the end of 2023. The existing road will then be dismantled.
The other planning sections of the project are also nearing completion of the planning approval procedure: based on the comments received from the procedures for sections 1 (Altheim – Adlkofen) and 2 (Adlkofen – Matzenhof), TenneT is currently preparing the final planning documents. TenneT expects the corresponding planning approval decisions to be made in the spring or autumn of next year. The entire replacement building is scheduled to go into operation by 2026. The dismantling of the entire existing line should be completed in 2027.
Image source: Courtesy of TenneT
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