Transpower/Tennet Start Extra High Voltage Underground Transmission Line Pilot Project

Transpower stromübertragungs gmbh, Bayreuth/Bavaria, one of four transmission grid operators in Germany, announced to test underground extra high voltage cables (380 kV) on an 8 km stretch south of the city of Bremen.

The necessary planning determination procedure (Planfeststellungsverfahren), a special approval procedure mainly for large-scale projects, will start next week. Until summer the regional planning procedure (Raumordnungsverfahren) for two more projects shall be initiated.

The transpower pilot project has been approved as one of four pilot project pursuant to the Energieleitungsausbaugesetz (EnLAG). According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, building costs for the project, which is part of a 60 km power line, amount to EUR 160 million, with EUR 100 million being attributable to the underground cable costs.

The new power line as well as the other two projects are intended to create “electricity motorways” for transmitting wind power from the north of Germany to the south. As there is increasing opposition to overland cables, the use of underground cables is being tested. This, however, has drawbacks, too. Firstly, the costs for underground cables are much higher. Secondly, they are expected to be more susceptible to power outages, as the cables are connected by sleeves every 900 m. Thirdly, the land must not be cultivated in a 15 m corridor around the cables.

Transpower, which has been recently sold from E.ON to the Dutch grid operator Tennet, said it would test underground extra high voltage cables in a coordinated effort with its new parent company Tennet. Tennet would test this type of cable in a number of pilot projects with a total length of 20 km between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The projects are scientifically monitored by the Universities of Delft and Hanover.

Source: transpower, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 10 March 2010, page 16

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