TenneT has now submitted the planning approval documents for the construction project to cross the Elbe with the SuedLink direct current cable to the Federal Network Agency. With a symbolic handover of file folders and underground cable samples by TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens to Energy Ministers Tobias Goldschmidt (Schleswig-Holstein) and Olaf Lies (Lower Saxony), the transmission system operator celebrated this project milestone in Glückstadt (Schleswig-Holstein).
Tim Meyerjürgens said: “SuedLink is setting the course for construction this year: cable production has recently started, the intermediate cable storage facilities for the delivery of the first cable drums are being expanded, and the last two converter orders will soon be awarded. With the submission of the planning approval documents for the individual SuedLink sections, we are now entering the home stretch of the approval process. TenneT’s construction area begins with the planning and technically extremely demanding section for crossing the Elbe. This is the last important step in the approval process for the planning approval decision, after which we can start building this section on the Elbe.”
Tobias Goldschmidt said: “SuedLink is one of the key power line projects in our country. Once in operation, it can become a real game changer for the German energy transition. As of today, we are one step closer to realising a new electricity highway. This gives confidence for the great challenges that lie ahead. Here in northern Germany, we show how grid expansion can work efficiently and in dialogue with people. I wish this spirit for the rest of the country as well. The current global political situation underlines the reality in a dramatic way. Liberation from the grip of fossil fuels will only succeed if the expansion of renewables and the power grid progresses rapidly. The system of network development planning must now be geared towards a climate-neutral network so that planning, approval and construction can be carried out with foresight.”
Olaf Lies said: “These are extremely challenging times in terms of geopolitics and energy policy. We in the north play a key role in becoming independent of Russian gas supplies as quickly as possible and in ensuring that our country has a climate-friendly energy supply. We assume responsibility for the whole of Germany. In the short term, we will therefore build the necessary import infrastructure for alternative gas supplies, while the long-term solution lies in the expansion of renewables and the electricity grids. They stand for a free, clean and independent energy supply. Therefore, this handover is an important signal that gives courage: we are moving forward on our way to a future with a climate-friendly and independent energy supply.”
In his video greeting, Dr. Patrick Graichen, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection: “SuedLink is a central project for the energy transition. It is therefore good news that the structurally complex section of the Elbe crossing is one step further. For the forthcoming planning approval process and the construction, however, the SuedLink project must progress more quickly than before. Politicians have paved the way for this with the immediate energy measures program.”
In front of a rear projection screen, Tim Meyerjürgens guided the two state ministers through the future tunnel structures on the banks of the Elbe and along the cable tunnel with the help of digital animation. He also explained the precisely planned cable routing, the function of the cable sleeves, the technical features of the building, and the cable installation. The event occurred in the presence of numerous representatives from business, administration and politics, as well as representatives of initiatives and associations, citizens, farmers and landowners of the SuedLink route.
Afterwards, the general public also had ample opportunity to learn more about grid expansion, TenneT’s role as a transmission system operator and SuedLink as the most important north-south connection. Multimedia and virtual information offers allowed everyone to experience the energy transition and SuedLink as part of an “Open Day”.
Further public participation
Once the submitted documents have been determined to be complete, the formal procedure by the Federal Network Agency as the approval authority is expected to begin in August 2022. Examination of the submitted documents will be accompanied by extensive formal public participation.
In the Elbe crossing area, SuedLink will be routed under the Elbe for a good five kilometres at a depth of around 20 metres. This will be realised with the help of a tunnel structure, SuedLink’s largest special structure. To do this, it is necessary to erect an access or service building with shafts on both sides of the Elbe: The starting shaft is located southwest of the municipality of Wewelsfleth (Schleswig-Holstein), the target shaft in Wischhafen near Freiburg (Lower Saxony). TenneT plans to construct the tunnel using the tubbing method. The tunnel boring machine digs its way under the Elbe like a mole and lines the tunnel with prefabricated concrete rings, so-called segments. The segments are provided via the starting shaft in Schleswig-Holstein.
This construction corresponds to that of the fourth tube of the Hamburg Elbe Tunnel, which was completed in 2002. The SuedLink tunnel is planned with an inner diameter of around four metres and will be accessible to trained operating personnel at all times for maintenance and repair purposes. The construction period for the area crossing the Elbe is expected to take five years: from the preparatory measures to the tunnel drive to the construction of the shaft building and the landscape design.
Image source: Courtesy of TenneT
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