BNetzA Confirms 63 of 92 Measures Proposed by TSOs in NEP 2014/2024 and 3 of 7 Measures in O-NEP 2014/2024

The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has approved 63 of the 92 grid enhancement and grid expansion projects proposed in the Electricity Grid Development Plan (NEP 2014/2024) and the Offshore Grid Development Plan (O-NEP 2014/2024) drafted by the four German transmission system operators. This comprises optimisation and enhancement measures on power lines with a length of 3,050 km and new power lines with a length of 2,750 km. The agency also released the accompanying environmental report 2014.

The NEPs contain all the optimisation, enhancement and expansion measures deemed necessary to ensure a safe and reliable operation of the on- and offshore grids over the next ten years (i.e. until 2024), giving also an outlook until 2034.

For the confirmed onshore projects, please see NEP 2014/2024, pages 7 to 10, and for the projects rejected pages 11 to 12. For the confirmed and rejected offshore projects, please see O-NEP 2014/2024, page 6.

The assessment that led to the confirmation of less projects than proposed took into consideration Germany’s reduced offshore goals, BNetzA explained (the Renewable Energy Sources Act that entered into force on 1 August 2014, the EEG 2014, reduced the goals from 10 MW to 6.5 GW by 2020 and from 25 GW to 15 GW by 2030).

Interestingly the decision about the necessity of grid projects was also made assuming “the curtailment of onshore wind power input peaks” (Kappung von Windeinspeisespitzen an Land). BNetzA admits (cf. NEP 2014/2024, page 37) that currently Sections 8, 11, and 12 EEG must be interpreted as to requiring grid operators to expand grids in such a way that all renewable power can be accommodated. Yet there was consensus among the ruling coalition parties to amend the relevant laws during this legislative term so that grid operators were able to expand grids taking the possibility of curtailments into consideration, BNetzA said, referring for example to the Green Paper and White Paper on the future of the German electricity market. Hence the agency already based its decision about the NEP 2014/2024 measures on these plans.

In spite of the above the total length of optimisation and enhancement measures increased from 2,300 to 3.050 km and expansion measures from 2,700 to 2,750 km, as more and more renewable energy was fed into the grids, BNetzA explained (until 2050 Germany wants to increase the share of renewables in the gross electricity consumption in a staggered manner to 80%, cf. Section 1 para. 2 EEG 2014).

BNetzA informed that its decision is also based on the results of talks between the ruling conservatives (CDU and CSU) and the Social Demokrat (SPD) on 1 July 2015. “The proposal to end the Gleichstrompassage Süd-Ost project in Isar/Landshut seems suitable to us from an electrotechnical point of view provided that regional (grid) enhancement in carried out in the AC grid between Ottenhofen and Oberbachern“, President Homann said. Yet, BNetzA had to decide about the necessity of projects based on grid-related aspects laid down in the laws. Hence, the agency had confirmed the grid project D18 from Wolmirstedt nach Gundremmingen. It was up to the legislator to what extent additional aspects were included in the binding decision about grid expansion pursuant to the Federal Requirement Plan or whether certain aspects were given a different weight in the decision. With this in mind, legislation could decide in favour of the alternative project from Wolmirstedt to Isar/Landshut including the enhancement of the AC grid.

The measures confirmed in the two previous grid expansion plans were for the most part reconfirmed by BNetzA.

BNetzA also published the accompanying environmental report (Umweltbericht) that it is required to submit by law (cf. Section 12c para. 2 sent. 1 German Energy Act). It describes and assesses the potential impact of the grid expansion projects confirmed on the environment. Compared with last year environmental consequences of underground cables were examined for a larger number of projects, BNetzA said (Please note the the government said on 3 July 2015 that underground cables will be given priority over overhead cables on the new HVDC power lines needed).

Source: Federal Network Agency

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