Newsletter of the EU-funded project BESTGRID - testing better practices

Testing better practices

Dear <<First Name>> <<Last Name>>, 

Our exciting journey of testing new and better practices in the BESTGRID project will officially end tomorrow. During two and a half eventful years, we have jointly learned how to improve stakeholder engagement practices, increase transparency and make procedures more open for different stakeholder groups and the public. Environmental groups and grid operators alike have gained valuable lessons for electricity grid development projects and are happy to share them with a bigger audience. Keep reading to find out more about our final conference in Brussels, two new BESTGRID publications, short animations that we have produced for three different pilot projects and our next steps to keep BESTGRID's valuable collaboration alive. 

We thank you for your great interest in the project and the insightful discussions we had at our public events, in bilateral talks or at meetings. We will keep you posted about future steps and projects via our website. If you have questions or are interested in more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch!
1. Final Conference: Implementing PCIsThe final BESTGRID Conference on 23 September in Brussels focused on the lessons BESTGRID project partners have learned for the implementation of 'projects of common interest' (PCIs). During a first session, Professor Leonardo Meeus from Vlerick Business School introduced the regulatory framework of PCIs, while Kurt Glaeser from DG Energy gave an update on the current implementation status of the TEN-E legislation regulating PCIs. 

During the second session, BESTGRID consortium partners introduced their pilot projects to the audience via short presentations. Workshop participants could gain additional project insights at information stands during coffee breaks. In the afternoon, four different discussion rounds dealt with the f—ollowing topics:
  • the relationship between biodiversity and social acceptance – how can one influence the other? 
  • financial framework for a successful cooperation of grid operators with stakeholders, such as NGOs and associations 
  • possible impacts of compensation on the acceptability of projects and challenges in having different compensation schemes for interconnectors 
  • overhead lines and underground cabling: Criteria for the use of underground cable technology on the extra high voltage level 
Finally, the workshop was topped off with a panel discussion on the role different EU institutions have for the implementation of PCIs. Panelists represented ACER, the European Commission, ENTSO-E and the European Environmental Bureau. 

'Protecting Nature in Power Grid Planning', a handbook developed by BirdLife Europe, is for anyone who would like to help ensure transmission grid development contributes to protecting wildlife and nature, and to sustainable development of our energy systems. It shows how grid development and nature protection interests can work together to achieve common goals for society. It builds on lessons from the BESTGRID project to suggest ways that nature conservation representatives and environmental NGOs of all kinds can get involved. By engaging early, and working together with governments and industry on solutions, nature conservationists and supporters can help enable grid development to become really sustainable - from the highest levels of policy down to decisions on details such as the design and location of ‘diverters’ that help birds avoid collision with power lines.

3. Elia: 25 Recommendations for Power Grid Development Projects

Reports on Belgian pilot projects: Elia, Bond Beter Leefmilieu and Inter-Environnement Wallonie draw conclusions for future grid development projects
The final report of Elia’s BESTGRID pilot analyses the whole permitting process for the Stevin project including all the stakeholder involvement undertaken. It introduces the reader to the local circumstances by explaining the project itself, by giving details on which procedural steps and permits were needed and by explaining which communication towards and involvement of stakeholders was undertaken. The second part of the report contains 25 recommendations which can be taken during the process to improve the acceptability of a project. These recommendations are grouped in seven overarching themes and are individually explained. Although a large part of the recommendations may seem obvious when glancing at the table of contents, the detailed information in the text shows that the implementation is not as easy as it seems. In fact, Elia tried to implement several of the actions that are proposed by the stakeholders as being very important. But the stakeholders clearly didn’t always perceive the actions as being sufficient. This difference in interpretation of what exactly a needed action is has been brought to the surface by cooperation with the NGO Bond Beter Leefmilieu, and is the essential and most valuable lesson of the report. The report was informed by another publication from Elia, which contains all summaries of information events, round table discussions and expert meetings that were held with stakeholders during the BESTGRID project.

4. Animations about Pilot Projects

A picture is worth a thousand words - that is why we have developed short movie clips that give you impressions from our pilot projects in a quick and easy format. Learn about the measures implemented during BESTGRID in three youtube clips.

5. The Way Forward

The BESTGRID project terminology refers to the projects examined as “pilot projects”, reflecting that the objective was always to apply these various approaches to stakeholder engagement more widely; specifically the close cooperation between TSOs and NGOs. Members of the BESTGRID consortium and many of its stakeholders want the insights gained to be implemented in a multitude of further grid development projects.

However, active engagement is often limited by resource constraints, especially in the case of NGOs. By planning joint activities at a very early point in time, it was assured that qualified staff would be available when active engagement on a project was needed. In addition, and more importantly, BESTGRID secured remuneration for NGO staff from a neutral source. Members of the BESTGRID consortium and Advisory Board, therefore, support the idea of setting up an independent fund, which would provide resources to facilitate the cooperation of TSOs and NGOs to engage in grid-related activities, both at the strategic level and on the ground. 

We will keep you informed about further developments and are looking forward to discussing our experiences with you at (hopefully) many occasions. 


6. Event Announcements
5th European Grid Conference

This year's European Grid Conference will focus on the topic "Digital Energy and the Power Grid - Trends and Opportunities". During the event on 19 November in Brussels, three main questions will be addressed: 
  • How is the digitalisation of the electricity sector shaping and impacting markets, new actors, prosumers and citizens?
  • How will the management and access to big data enable actors to prosper and deliver the energy transition? 
  • Are flexibility and demand response the silver bullet of the energy transition?
Please visit our website for full agenda, list of participants and registration. 

About Bestgrid
With nine partners, comprised of European non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs) and a research institute, the EU-funded BESTGRID project works towards modernising and expanding the current European electricity grid for the integration of a growing share of electricity from renewable sources. Launched in April 2013, BESTGRID is made up of four pilot projects located in Belgium, Germany and the UK. During the project, TSOs and NGOs work together to improve local and public acceptance for grid development processes. 

Partners: 50Hertz, BirdLife Europe, Elia, Germanwatch, IIASA, National Grid, TenneT, Terna Rete Italia 
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