On December 30, 2022, the transmission system operator TenneT applied for a planning approval decision to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) in accordance with Section 21 of the Grid Expansion Acceleration Act (NABEG) for the SuedLink planning section A4. The BNetzA is now organising the approval process with public participation. After its completion, SuedLink may be built in the northern district of Rotenburg (Wümme). According to the statutory deadlines, construction approval and the start of construction can be expected in mid-2024.
This submission is the prelude to the application for all further underground cable routes in 2023. SuedLink is divided into a total of 15 planning approval sections. For three sections – the SuedLink course in a new tunnel below the Elbe, the course in a salt mine near Heilbronn and a short overhead line section in Bavaria – the final planning approval procedures have been underway since mid-2022.
“SuedLink picked up significant momentum in 2022 and will transition from a planning to a construction project from 2023,” said Tim Meyerjürgens, COO of TenneT. “In view of the current energy crisis, we are doing everything we can to ensure that the first electricity can flow at SuedLink in 2028. To do this, it is imperative that everyone pulls together. We would like to thank everyone involved for the good cooperation and continue to work at full speed on the next decisive steps in the SuedLink project.”
The planning approval documents describe the exact route of the pipeline, construction methods and required plots of land. In addition, they weigh the interests of the so-called protected goods, such as people, the environment and soil, against each other. The requested SuedLink route was planned and optimised with the owners and the local public. More than 1,300 tips from the public were taken into account. The section begins at the district border with Stade and ends at Scheeßel. SuedLink touches on the communities of Farven, Anderlingen, Heeslingen, Elsdorf, Hamersen, Helvesiek and Scheeßel.
In addition, the area for the local intermediate cable storage facility has already been completed in Zeven (also in the Rotenburg/Wümme district). The first deliveries of cables should arrive in the first quarter of 2023. The two European cable manufacturers, NKT and Prysmian, have already started production.
The Federal Network Agency is responsible for the next steps in the approval process. It will probably publish the plans in the first quarter of 2023 at www.netzausbau.de publish and, among other things, listen to the affected communities. This procedural step makes it possible to comment on the plans officially and to discuss them in a hearing. The BNetzA will then weigh the arguments against each other and issue the plan approval decision.
The SuedLink wind power line
In the future, SuedLink will connect wind farms in the north – via NordLink, also hydroelectric power plants in Scandinavia – and solar parks in southern Germany. The connection enables fluctuating renewable energy sources to be flexibly networked, thus ensuring a stable and secure power supply. SuedLink consists of two projects with a total of four underground cables. They connect Brunsbüttel and nearby Wilster in Schleswig-Holstein with Großgartach near Heilbronn (Baden-Württemberg) and Bergrheinfeld/West near Schweinfurt (Bavaria). With a length of around 700 kilometres and an investment of ten billion euros, SuedLink is the largest infrastructure project for the energy transition in Germany. The high-voltage direct current transmission used enables low-loss electricity transport over long distances. With a capacity of four gigawatts, SuedLink can theoretically supply ten million households. At SuedLink, TenneT is responsible for the northern section of the route and the converters in Schleswig-Holstein and Bavaria. The southern section of the route and the converter in Baden-Württemberg fall within the TransnetBW area.
Image source: Courtesy of TenneT
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