Federal Agency for Maritime Shipping and Hydrography to Consult on Update of Federal Offshore Grid Plan for German North Sea

The Federal Agency for Maritime Shipping and Hydrography (BSH) is to put up an update of the Federal Offshore Grid Plan (Bundesfachplan Offshore) for the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the North Sea and an update of the environmental report for consultation in the period dating from 29 July 2014 to 9 September 2014.

1. General Information

Pursuant to Section 17a German Energy Act (EnWG), BSH has to issue and annually update separate federal special plans (Bundesfachpläne) for the offshore grids in the German Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in the North and Baltic Sea. The plans specify and supplement maritime planning with regard to the planning of offshore grids.

The grid plan for the German EEZ in the North Sea was issued in February 2013. It was accompanied by a Strategic Environmental Assessment. The grid plan for the EEZ in the Baltic Sea is currently being prepared.

2. Information Concerning Update

The update of the Federal Offshore Plan for the North Sea contains in particular changes relating to spatial planning of grid connection systems for offshore wind parks in the North Sea. Besides, the update builds on the draft of the Offshore Grid Development Plan 2014 by the transmission system operators, which examines the consequences of the new goals for offshore expansion on the grids. According to Section 3 no. 2  of the amended Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), which will enter into force on 1 August 2014, 6.5 GW of offshore wind power shall be installed in the exclusive economic zones of the North and the Baltic Seas by 2020 (down from previously 10 GW) and 15 GW by 2030 (down from previously 25 GW). According to the updated plan the coverage required for power cables was reduced from 3 metres in traffic separation areas (Verkehrstrennungsgebieten) in the EEZ to 1.5 metres, following anchor pullout tests (Ankerzugversuchen) conducted by BSH in cooperation with the transmission system operator TenneT TSO and other federal institutions.

The North Sea offshore grid plan comprises the planned and permitted wind farms with a maximum distance of 120 km to the shore, dividing them into into 13 clusters. It specifies power line routes or corridors for power line routes for the connection of wind farms, defines sites for converter platforms and transformer substations, routes for cross-border power lines and interconnection points (Übergabepunkt) between the EEZ and the territorial sea. The plan therefore provides legal certainty for the individual permitting procedures and thus investor certainty, BSH points out.

3. Next Steps

The draft of the updated Offshore Grid Plan for the North Sea and the draft of the updated environmental report will be available for inspection at the premises of BSH in Hamburg and Rostock from 29 July 9 September 2014. They will also be available on the internet. Interested parties may comment by e-mail (posteingang@bsh.de) by 23 September 2014.

Section 17b EnWG requires the transmission operators to submit an annual offshore grid development plan by 3 March of each year to the Federal Network Agency for approval. The Offshore Grid Development Plan (O-NEP) has to be based on the offshore grid plan by BSH. It has to contain all the measures and steps for an optimisation, enhancement and expansion of the offshore grids, which have to meet the demand and ensure the security of supply over the next ten years and are necessary for a safe and reliable operation of the offshore grid connections.

Source: BSH

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