Minister Brüderle Presents Key Points for Grid Expansion Acceleration Act (NABEG)

Federal Minister for Economics and Technology Rainer Brüderle yesterday presented key points for an Act on the Acceleration of Grid Expansion (Netzausbaubeschleunigungsgesetz – NABEG). A speedy grid expansion has been identified as vital for the ambitious expansion targets for renewable energy in Germany by the ministry. Hence, NABEG aims at cutting permitting procedure times.

According to the German Energy Agency (dena), some 3,600 km of new extra high voltage lines are needed until 2020. In its first Grid Study from 2005, dena had previously identified a need for 850 km of new lines until 2015. So far, only about 90 km have been built. The three main obstacles are the duration of permitting procedures, acceptance of power line projects by residents and investment conditions.

The key points for the NABEG address these issues:

1. Federal Planning and Federal Grid Expansion Plan

To standardize approval procedures nationwide, the Federal Network Agency shall carry out federal special planning (Bundesfachplanung) in close cooperation with the affected federal states. The resulting federal grid plan (Bundesnetzplan) shall detail and reserve the necessary power line routes for all of Germany. The public shall be involved at an early stage.

2. Greater Participation and Transparency

Financial compensation for municipalities affected by power lines, improved participation of citizens in drawing up grid expansion plans, and an information campaign by the government. Network operators and environmental groups shall improve communication and transparency, thus leading to greater acceptance of projects.

3. Offshore Grid Expansion

The legal prerequisites shall be created for joint grid connections of offshore wind farms (cluster connections). In addition, an offshore master plan shall ensure optimal coordination of the offshore wind power expansion.

4. Promotion of Cross-Border Interconnections

To promote integrated networks and improve the internal electricity market, clear legal provisions for the construction of cross-border interconnections shall be introduced, in particular with a view to grid access fees and the conditions for the connection to the transmissions network.

5. Reduction of Bureaucracy at Competent Authorities

By cutting bureaucracy the competent authorities shall be freed to focus on their main tasks. They shall be allowed to delegate formalised procedures to private project managers.

6. Simplifying Permitting Procedures

Permitting procedures shall be simplified. For 110 kV overhead and underground power lines a uniform permitting regime shall be introduced to reduce approval time.

7. Promotion of Storage Sites

The construction of new storage sites shall be encouraged by exempting them from grid fees for 20 years, instead of 10 years as under the current legal regime.

8. Additional Measures

In addition to NABEG a set of regulations shall speed up grid expansion. This includes the regulatory framework conditions, as they affect investments. Possible amendments in particular with respect to R&D shall be speedily evaluated.

The government also wants to start a campaign at EU level to reduce bureaucracy with regard to time-consuming environmental requirements.

Minister Brüderle presented the NABEG’s key points on the occasion of the meeting of the energy ministers in Bruxelles. He pointed out that he has been canvassing for cross-border grid expansion with the EU commission and his colleagues.

The NABEG proposal is in line with other efforts to speed up grid expansion to accommodate an increasing input of renewable energy. One example is the Amendment of the Energy Line Extension Act, which took place earlier this year. The amended law provides more powers to state authorities to decide when underground cables shall be used for certain extra high voltage pilot projects regulated by EnLAG. Underground cables shall improve the acceptance of grid expansion in Germany.

Source: Eckpunktepapier BMWi

Source: Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi)

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