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

Testing better practices

Dear <<First Name>> <<Last Name>>, 

The end of the year is fast approaching. For the BESTGRID consortium, 2014 has been very exciting: many of the activities in the pilot projects have been implemented. We engaged in fruitful discussions with many of you at two public workshops and are already in the middle of planning the third. Debates about the development of electricity grids were very lively, be it on European, national or regional level. 
In this newsletter issue, you will learn more about the experience our consortium partners have made on the ground so far - both from grid operators' and an NGOs' perspectives, you will get a better understanding about IIASA, the research institute that is analysing our activities, and you will get information about other projects and events. 

Have a lovely holiday season and a good end of the year 2014! 
1. BESTGRID Activities

Does collaboration stir innovation? 

The second BESTGRID workshop on „Innovation through Collaboration“ was held on October 23rd. More than 60 participants from industry, civil society and academia joined the event at the Umweltforum in Berlin.
In the morning, speakers from 50Hertz and Nationalgrid presented the progress of and actions taken in their respective pilot projects thus far and representatives from the German and British chapters of BirdLife shared their BESTGRID experiences from almost 20 months of cooperation.


Their presentations triggered discussions on building trust with stakeholders, especially in light of sensitive subjects such as electric and magnetic fields, the added value of NGOs in the planning and implementation of grid projects, transparency in the cooperation between TSOs and NGOs as well as self-learning and best practice sharing.
The afternoon was composed of more open discussion formats. Four world café-styled discussion rounds simultaneously looked at the topic of “Innovation through Collaboration” from different angles. Better collaboration on PCI identification, innovative collaboration formats, initial steps of good collaboration on the ground as well as joint development of community compensation measures were discussed. Concluding remarks were made during a fishbowl discussion that centred on social responsibility in grid development discussions.
All presentations and an image gallery with impressions of the day are available on the BESTGRID website.

Lively exchange on BESTGRID at 50Hertz Innovation Day
Last month, RGI was invited to present BESTGRID at the 50Hertz Innovation Day together with the involved colleagues from the German grid operator. The event aimed at giving all employees a better understanding of the different innovative approaches currently pursued by 50Hertz.

Being one of the TSO’s innovative projects, BESTGRID was present with its own stand and many seized the opportunity to find out more about the project in general and 50Hertz’ mobile citizens’ office tour in particular. Most visitors were interested in learning more about the other project partners as well as the target group’s reaction to the mobile info truck and the information conveyed, particularly on magnetic fields below and around grid lines, and their effect on humans. Many even tested the magnetic fields measuring device themselves on household appliances kept at the stand for exactly this purpose.
Considering the lively interest, the citizens’ info mobile could be hitting the road again to initiate a dialogue with locals about another of 50Hertz’ grid projects.


BirdLife’s BESTGRID workshops are taking shape
BirdLife is a global partnership of bird and nature conservation NGOs, with partners in every EU nation. In addition to publishing a ‘handbook’ on ‘power lines and nature’, BirdLife Europe will are organising five workshops to develop our recommendations and to build capacity for NGO engagement in grid development. BirdLife Europe’s partners will come together for a workshop in the UK in mid May, to discuss EU-wide grid plans and the implications for climate change and nature conservation. A second workshop will bring together representatives of Brussels based NGOs to ensure lessons from across the environmental movement are reflected in our recommendations. The three other workshops will be organised by BirdLife’s Partners in Slovenia, Lithuania and Romania. These will bring together national industry, government and NGO stakeholders to discuss national grid planning and nature protection, with a special focus on TEN-E ‘projects of common interest’.
2. Pilot projectsBoth NGOs and grid operators have by now implemented many of the foreseen activities in the pilot projects. 

Lessons learned so far: Germanwatch accompanied activities on the ground

While the majority of the Germanwatch climate team was preparing for this year´s climate conference in Lima by laying the ground for an ambitious global climate agreement in 2015, Germanwatch staff member and BESTGRID partner Rotraud Haenlein spent a lot of time this autumn visiting public information events and stakeholder workshops. “Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy is only one side of the coin, while explaining the need for new infrastructure remains a huge challenge,” she summarizes after visiting several expert workshops and info markets for TenneT´s SuedLink project, 50Hertz´s Bertikow-Pasewalk project and National Grid’s subsea cable project NEMO Link. Germanwatch is currently developing a 'handbook on participation and transparency' that will summarize the lessons that they have learned from all the BESTGRID projects. It will be the counterpart of BirdLife's 'handbook on power lines and nature'. 

50Hertz on the road: Delivering information on electromagnetic fields and different corridor options for the Bertikow-Pasewalk line 

After a successful "proposal conference" („Antragskonferenz“) for the planned 380-kV line from Bertikow to Pasewalk, the 50Hertz project team set off for talks with local citizens.
The mobile citizens’ office, which had been designed especially for the 7-day info tour, stopped at 11 locations close to the different corridor options of the Bertikow-Pasewalk project. It served as a drop-in centre for anyone interested in the current planning phase and the likelihood of their own property being directly affected by the new line.

TenneT continues public dialogue for SuedLink – around 90 per cent of the public’s suggestions have been incorporated into the project planning

3. Get to know our partnersIIASA: international and interdisciplinary research centre  
The International Institute for Applied Systems Research (IIASA) is a scientific institution that conducts policy-oriented and interdisciplinary research that is too large and complex to be solved within a single country or scientific discipline. Supported by scientific academies from several countries, IIASA is an independent international research body that provides scientific advice to national and international policy-making organizations. The staff at IIASA is comprised of over 300 scientists from different disciplines from over 45 countries, among them several Nobel Prize winners. The IIASA research network includes 1750 collaborators across the globe. 

4. Event announcements
4th European Grid Conference

Electricity is the engine of modern societies and flowering economies. Economic growth is directly linked to sufficient energy supply. More than ever before, electricity has become a basic need and as such also a democratic right. Discussions during the Renewables Grid Initiative's Conference will be divided into three content blocks: 

1. Energy and Democracy
2. Innovation and Structural Change
3. The European Energy Union

Discussions will be followed by the Good Practice Award Ceremony. 


3rd BESTGRID workshop

Our 3rd BESTGRID workshop will be dedicated to exchanging good practices. The BESTGRID consortium kindly invites you to share experiences you have gained, learn about successful practices and thus benefit by leapfrogging. Already save the date in your calendar, more information will follow soon! 

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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