With the “Act to Restart the Digitization of the Energy Transition”, which came into force a few days ago, the Bundestag has cleared the way to significantly accelerate planned power connections in the future through a new approval process. The two transmission system operators, TenneT and 50Hertz, have now taken this option for their joint NordOstLink underground cable project. With new requirements for environmental protection and species protection, the grid expansion is picking up the pace that is urgently needed in Germany and is taking a big step towards the energy transition.
“The direct current underground cable connection NordOstLink is central to the integration of the enormous offshore wind power potential of the North Sea into the German transmission grid. Together with our partner TenneT, we have therefore decided to use the acceleration potential of the new legal regulations. The NordOstLink is thus becoming an important pilot project. The energy transition needs more speed, so now it’s time to tackle things together and find pragmatic solutions,” says Stefan Kapferer, Managing Director of 50Hertz.
“The initiative of the federal government is an important step on the way to the climate neutrality network 2045. Rapid network expansion is absolutely necessary in order to achieve the climate goals of the federal government. That is why NordOstLink should be transporting green electricity from the North Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania as early as 2032, and theoretically supply five million households with electricity,” says TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens.
Preference space procedure is the new standard
TenneT and 50Hertz are using the new process for the first time for their joint project NordOstLink. The line is planned as an underground cable in accordance with the legal requirements. In Heide, the starting point of NordOstLink in Schleswig-Holstein, 50Hertz and TenneT are also planning a new type of power hub. This means that for the first time there is the possibility of connecting direct current connections such as NordOstLink directly to other direct current lines. This technical innovation is the entry into a meshed direct current network. In the future, this will enable electricity to be transported efficiently and flexibly over long distances in the direction of consumption centres.
Last year, the legislature decided on a streamlined approval process for new line projects that are approved by the Federal Network Agency. Now he has created the option that the preference area procedure can also be applied to projects that have already been confirmed, such as NordOstLink. The preference area procedure forms the first stage of the approval procedure. Unlike before, however, the project developers are not looking for suitable spaces for an underground cable connection. Instead, the Federal Network Agency is developing a five to ten-kilometre-wide preference area. In this, the project developers plan the plot-specific route in the subsequent planning approval process.
Dialogue and participation remain central
With the preference area procedure and new species and environmental protection specifications, the federal government has set the course for an accelerated approval procedure. TenneT and 50Hertz emphasize that the new Deutschlandtempo should not lead to less participation and dialogue. Acceleration will only work if the public and, in particular, the managers of affected areas continue to be “taken along” on the way. TenneT and 50Hertz will, therefore also focus on dialogue and the involvement of the public in planning at NordOstLink.
Image source: Courtesy of 50Hertz
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