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

Testing better practices

Dear <<First Name>> <<Last Name>>, 

Our project BESTGRID has been running for more than two years now. We are already planning our final conference on 23 September in Brussels and are very excited to present you our lessons learned there. In the meantime, read on to find out more about workshops we have organised in the UK, Italy, Belgium, Lithuania, Slovenia and Romania, activities that have been implemented in the pilot projects and a handbook that Germanwatch has compiled focusing on transparency and public participation during grid development projects.

Since the project is coming to an end, we would also like to ask you for your opinion about BESTGRID and our communication means. We would appreciate it a lot if you could take 5-10 minutes and fill in this feedback survey

We look forward to meeting you in Brussels at our conference, do not forget to register here
1. BESTGRID Activities

Transparency and participation

Germanwatch published handbook including detailed recommendations for practitioners and stakeholders
In May, Germanwatch has published a handbook, which highlights the new approaches that have been tested by the BESTGRID partners. Germanwatch has been following the jointly developed good practice approaches to early and transparent power grid planning and has compiled the findings.
The handbook provides answers to the following questions:
  • Who is responsible for power grid planning und how can I participate in the decision-making process?
  • Where do I find information on power line projects in my area, on technology and on impacts on landscape and nature?
  • What conflicts may arise during the different phases of the planning process?
  • What lessons can be learned from the BESTGRID pilot projects?
The recommendations are addressed to local stakeholders and invite them to contribute their experience and expertise in support of the ener
gy transition and the much needed power grid transformation. It also provides power grid operators with good practice examples in formal and informal stakeholder engagement and encourages the exchange of experiences between them.

The handbook is available in English, German and French. 
Building capacity for NGO engagement
BirdLife Europe organised a series of five workshops that helped build capacity in NGOs to engage with grid policy and planning. Three of them took place in newer EU Member States in which ‘projects of common interest’ are planned, namely Slovenia, Lithuania and Romania. At the workshops, developers, authorities and NGOs discussed lessons from PCI planning in their countries, as well as how to develop further cooperation. One workshop brought together representatives of BirdLife Europe’s national Partner organisations, all of which are leading bird and wildlife conservation NGOs, to discuss with each other, but also with TSO representatives, the lessons coming out of BESTGRID and how BirdLife can engage earlier and more effectively in national grid planning. The last workshop involved representatives of Brussels-based European NGO networks such as Climate Action Network and European Environment Bureau. Here the focus was on EU grid and energy policy, and the ways in which NGOs and their networks can help to make grid planners and developers do more to protect nature and prevent dangerous climate change.


Learning from each other:
Good practice exchange at the core of workshops in the UK and Italy

Good practice exchange fair in London 
Are you familiar with the programme “Natural Grid” that aims at enhancing ecosystems through the innovative use of National Grid’s assets? Or have you ever thought about engaging with your stakeholders with the help of an old sofa? Infrastructure project promoters, NGOs, and authorities all over Europe are facing very similar challenges regarding public acceptability, stakeholder engagement, permitting procedures and the reduction of environmental impacts. Many have developed new approaches and brainstormed innovative ideas. Why not learn from these and enhance them instead of reinventing the wheel? With this purpose in mind, the 3rd BESTGRID workshop on 26 February in London was dedicated to exchanging good practices. With the help of three formats - speed dating for networking purposes, pitches and an info marketplace - successful practices and beneficial experiences have been shared.

How to engage stakeholders in landscape planning, design and aesthetics of grid infrastructure – workshop in Italy’s design capital Milan
Beautiful and peculiar landscapes - both natural and architectural - are widespread across Europe. Very often, these are dear to local residents due to strong emotional bonds. Naturally, scepticism arises when some of these areas are to be changed due to the crossing of new power lines. The BESTGRID consortium teamed up with the project INSPIRE-Grid for a joint workshop that aimed at exploring whether newer, more aesthetically pleasing or more environmentally sensitive infrastructure can contribute to gaining more support for grid projects.
On the 19th of May, 60 participants gathered in Milan, Italy, to discuss the topic. Key aspects of the debate included people’s perceptions of landscape and the plentiful new approaches to pylon design and technological realisation. Moreover, possibilities to improve stakeholder engagement in decision-making processes, including the choice of the grid design, were discussed. One such approach to citizen involvement in grid planning was simulated by the participants in the form of a multi-criteria analysis role play. The idea behind this exercise was to test a means of ranking criteria that people perceive as most important rather than discussing possible outcomes directly.
The workshop was completed by a field trip to Terna’s power line with Germoglio pylons near Milan and a visit to a substation masked with naturalistic engineering methods.  
Scientific evaluation of implemented activities: people are most concerned about the need of a new power lineThe international research institute IIASA was observing the participatory process within BESTGRID as well as analysing stakeholders’ feedback and providing inputs to the action plans of grid operators. The results allowed making following conclusions:
  • Concerns about the need of the project in light of perceived alternatives, such as decentralised generation, energy efficiency and others were the most frequently expressed concerns. At the same time, concerns about benefits and compensation were expressed least frequently.
  • Stakeholders appreciated the BESTGRID process a lot and would like to see its continuation. The majority of stakeholders were satisfied with the quality of information events and with the possibility to provide feedback.
  • Reactions of stakeholders to BESTGRID information events varied significantly. It seams that men at the age over 45 who own private houses and live in the vicinity of the projects of less then 1 km to the planned infrastructure are most actively participating in public information events. At the same time, young people are questioning the need of the project, but they are not searching actively for information and are visiting information events less frequently.
  • Since they addressed the most important concern, actions to provide information about the need of the project were most successful. Stakeholders and inhabitants also appreciated the opportunity for direct cooperation with employees of TSOs as well as the improved quality of information materials, which included visualisations and detailed maps. 


50Hertz has organized an info-tour with a mobile citizen office with stops at eleven different locations along proposed corridors for the new line. During this tour, measurements of electro- and magnetic fields at the existing 220kV line have been conducted. Moreover, four round table events have been organised in cooperation with NABU Germany and DUH, targeting environmental stakeholders and representatives of local authorities and municipalities.


Nemo Link

National Gird has retrospectively evaluated their own stakeholder engagement and communication activities that they applied for Nemo Link and other offshore interconnector projects. For this, they have conducted interviews and held workshops with relevant stakeholders of NemoLink both in the UK and in Belgium. Moreover, a number of other internal marine infrastructure projects, both current and past, have been reviewed to benchmark and give input into the conclusions. In the end, National Grid has drawn recommendations for future marine grid development projects. 


SuedLink  TenneT organised info markets in more than 40 locations along the proposed corridor and alternatives addressing the overall population – they were partly moderated by the German NGO DUH. Moreover, the regional NGO NABU Lower Saxony and TenneT organised round tables and a field trip for environmental stakeholders and representatives of authorities. They also jointly developed a concept on the early consideration of opportunities to improve the biotope network via SuedLink.
3. Further reading 
Scientific perspectives on stakeholder engagement

The project INSPIRE-Grid that is supported by the EU’s 7th research framework programme, is also focusing on better stakeholder engagement during the planning of new electricity infrastructure projects. However, it engages with decision-making procedures from a more scientific angle.
à Researchers from the ETH in Zurich have looked at experiences from stakeholder engagement processes both for new electricity infrastructure and for other sectors. Recommendations have been summarised in a best practice toolbox that is available on the INSPIRE-Grid website.
à To learn more about the opportunity to use a multi-criteria analysis for stakeholder engagement during corridor finding, take a look at the “Aesthetics” workshop summary, which describes an MCA simulation game conducted by Poliedra and ETH Zurich.

4. Event announcements
Final BESTGRID Conference

The Ten-E legislation, regulating projects of common European interest (PCIs), has been in place for more than two years now. The first list of PCIs has been identified and first experiences when implementing the regulation have been gained. Almost for the same time, the project BESTGRID has been running: grid operators have been working with environmental groups and other stakeholders in pilot projects on the ground, testing new approaches and finding innovative ways of cooperation as part of the BESTGRID project.

Wind Power and Solar Integration

Organiser Energynautics is happy to announce the preliminary programmes for the 5th International Workshop on Integration of Solar Power into Power Systems & the 14th International Workshop on Large-Scale Integration of Wind Power into Power Systems as well as on Transmission Networks for Offshore Wind Power Plants with a total of 160+ speakers.
The workshops offer exciting presentations of both technical and economic issues in the area of the large-scale integration of solar and wind power and aim to facilitate the discussion between industry & academic participants by having presentations on research work and on practical experience as well as demonstration projects.
Sessions on solar will include “PV and Distribution Networks”, “Solar Power Plant Issues”, “Forecasting Issues” and “Solar Integration Studies”. For a detailed solar program with all sessions, please click here.
Wind sessions will among others cover “Project Experience”, “Grid Code Issues”, “Modelling and Simulation”, “Economic Aspects”, “Offshore Wind Power Plants” as well as “Stability Studies”. For the full wind program, have a look at the workshop website.
Avifauna and Climate Change
French NGO LPO  invites you to an International symposium "Avifauna and Climate Change” on 9-10 October 2015 in Paris. The full programme is available here

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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