Innovative approaches to grid development

Modernising and expanding the European electricity grid is an imperative building block to enable the transition of Europe’s energy system from fossil fuel dependence towards renewable energy. However, planning and realising grid development projects is often difficult and time consuming due to local opposition, complex permitting procedures and the challenges of minimising impacts on nature and host communities.

About our project

Launched in April 2013, the BESTGRID project tackled these problems by approaching current European grid development projects in innovative ways. BESTGRID derived its distinct significance from close cooperation between environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs) from the UK, Belgium and Germany. They worked together during the planning as well as the implementation phases and aimed at improving local public acceptance for grid development processes, speeding up permitting procedures while proactively addressing or even surpassing environmental protection standards, and encouraging the implementation of constructive public engagement in permitting procedures for European “projects of common interest.” By sharing their knowledge and comparing experiences, partners got a more rounded understanding of how to better implement grid expansion projects.

In practice, this meant that four pilot projects were carried out throughout the project’s life span from April 2013 until October 2015. Three of these pilot projects focused on designing and testing new activities, while the other two had a stronger focus on evaluating activities that had already been developed and implemented in order to derive insights for future improvement. The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) evaluated all activities undertaken under the BESTGRID umbrella from a scientific perspective. 

BESTGRID Partners included two NGOs (BirdLife Europe and Germanwatch), five TSOs (50Hertz, Elia, National Grid, TenneT and Terna Rete Italia), one research institute (IIASA) and the Renewables Grid Initiative.


The project was divided into nine work packages, which were all intertwined. You can find more information on them in different sections of our website:

·      Pilot projects

·      Environmental concerns and stakeholders

·      Transparency and participation

·      Best practice exchange