Society demands clear and continuous explanation of the need for new power lines

November 4,2015

Grid operators and environmental groups jointly working on five grid development projects found that the decision about the need of a new power lines has to be addressed with a high level of transparency and throughout all planning stages; the findings are relevant for the implementation of the TEN-E regulation and should inform the European ten-year network development plan (TYNDP)

Host communities and stakeholders affected by new power lines require clear demonstration and continuous reassurance that a project is indeed necessary and that they – or at least next generations - will get some benefit. They want to understand why it is needed and what kind of energy future it will support, in order to consider accepting the burden imposed by the development.

The EU-supported project BESTGRID came to a close end of October. Grid operators and environmental groups have been co-operating in five grid projects in Belgium, Germany and the UK over the last two and a half years. One of the main lessons learned is that the task of addressing this fundamental concern is never fully completed. A transparent and participatory process when deciding which developments are needed is as important as providing comprehensive and trustworthy material explaining this need at later planning stages.

The BESTGRID consortium, comprised of five European transmission system operators, two environmental NGOs, the Renewables Grid Initiative and a research institute, encourages all parties responsible for the need definition and its communication to build on this experience. This includes ENTSO-E, which is currently developing the TYNDP for 2016. The need for grid investments is a result of market, political and societal decisions regarding the design of the electricity sector as a whole, and not the responsibility of individual TSOs. Nevertheless, the way this need is determined, and the case for each investment, has to be better explained. Thus, respected political leaders, independent NGOs and other trusted sources have a vital role in helping communicate the need case.

The successful collaboration of grid operators and environmental groups in five projects has stirred the interest of the consortium to continue the work in other projects, including ‘projects of common interest’. However, this collaboration will be highly dependent on independent funding. The European Commission as well as authorities and institutions at national or regional level should thus allocate funds to support further work, which helps implement grid infrastructure which is urgently needed for the energy transition.

For a more detailed summary of project findings, including the ten most important lessons learned, download the final report of the project