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

Testing better practices

Dear Reader, 

The first half of our project BESTGRID has already been completed and major milestones have been achieved. Our first public workshop took place in Hamburg in May this year and we were very happy to see so many participants who shared their valuable insight with our consortium members. At the beginning of this month, one of our pilot projects reached an important threshold: 50Hertz submitted its application documents for the spatial planning procedure to the permit granting authority. 
Continue reading to find out more about new initiatives that our TSO partners are seizing to engage with the public, about how TSOs and NGOs work on our project together on a practical level and the motivations behind Germanwatch's engagement in grid development. 
1. BESTGRID Activities

Our first public workshop in Hamburg: have we entered the future of public acceptance?

Around 80 participants came to Hamburg on 21 May to discuss the current state of acceptance for grid development projects in Europe with the BESTGRID consortium. The lessons learned so far from two pilot projects in Germany and Belgium were presented from two perspectives: both the grid operators and two environmental NGOs shared the experiences that they have gained throughout the last year. The full presentations are available on our website

In three parallel discussion sessions, different aspects of stakeholder engagement were examined: 1. Europe’s role in gaining acceptance for projects on the ground; 2. New and innovative participation tools; and 3. Ownership as a driver for acceptance. One of the participants concluded in the end: “BESTGRID gives the opportunity to implement public participation in such a way that it enables a positive democratic learning process of all actors of society.” Thanks again to all the participants who contributed with their great insights and valuable experiences!   

2. Pilot projectsThe two pilot projects in Germany have entered important phases for stakeholder engagement. The public has been informed about the key data and first feedback and important suggestions have been collected. 50Hertz has submitted first application documents to the permitting authority at the beginning of August.

Community dialogue for SuedLink – 22 local info-marts in 5 German federal states

The SuedLink DC line, jointly planned by TenneT and TransnetBW, is a central infrastructure project of the German energy transition. Concerns and criticism were already expressed in local communities as soon as the preliminary plans were announced. As the responsible TSO, TenneT responded quickly and comprehensively at the local level: with communal info-marts, including direct dialogue and public participation, along the entire proposed transmission corridor. From March to June 2014 an expert team of 15-20 people presented the project personally at 22 info-marts in 5 German federal states. Around 300 visitors per event wished to be78
+nformed about the corridor planning in the respective regions; fruitful discussions were held to gain valuable local knowledge and to develop alternative corridor options. Visitors were invited to mark their suggestions for alternatives directly into regional large-scale maps and to fill in feedback forms directly on-site together with the expert team.

50Hertz: Information events in Prenzlau and Pasewalk – a promising start to further stakeholder dialogue and cooperation 

On March 11th and 13th, 50Hertz informed stakeholders ranging from citizens to local politicians and representatives from regional administrative authorities to local/ regional entrepreneurs about the construction of 380-kV lines between Bertikow and Pasewalk.  A short introductory part on the planning status of the new line during the plenary session was followed by more in-depth discussions on aspects such as environmental protection, the potential reconstruction of transformer stations and possible route alternatives for the overhead-lines. Valuable and highly appreciated tips were given by the participants during both evening sessions. Those were then pinned on a map showing the ellipsis for the possible route corridors. Two documentaries (two separate slide presentations) wrapping up both events, are, by now, made publicly available on the official 50Hertz homepage

National Grid: lessons learned for grid development in the marine environment

3. Get to know our partnersGermanwatch: Fair and transparent planning procedures: core elements for a successful energy transformation 
Germanwatch is a non-governmental organization that advocates global justice, fostering Germany’s responsibility for a just world. One can easily wonder how this overall goal is related to Germanwatch’s interest in the modernization of our electricity grid. The argument is easy: the fight again climate change is strongly connected to the fight for a just world. While industry nations, such as Germany, are responsible for the biggest share of greenhouse gas emissions, the fiercest impacts happen in developing countries. This is the main reason for Germanwatch to support the transformation of the energy system towards a future fully based on renewable energy. And the modernization of the electricity grid is seen as one enabler of this transformation. Or as Christoph Bals, Policy Director of Germanwatch puts it: „We will only reach the necessary reduction of CO2 emissions by a massive extension of local renewable energies on the one hand and cross-regional renewable energy resources on the other hand. The expansion of the grid is therefore essential.”
4. Further readingHow to build a North Seas Grid without regretting it  
The North Seas contain vast and largely untapped renewable energy resources. If the necessary grid infrastructure is not built on time or in the right place, the option of accessing high levels of offshore wind will effectively be frozen out. But there is still a high level of uncertainty about how much offshore wind generation will be developed and where it will be located, and regulators and investors are rightly concerned about over-investing in offshore cables that could end up under-used if the expected volumes of offshore wind do not turn up. To address this vicious circle, E3G and Imperial College London have conducted a significant new modelling study on the development of North Seas Grid infrastructure in the face of these uncertainties.

5. Event announcementsSecond BESTGRID workshop hosted by 50Hertz

How can we agree on the dimensions of the future electricity grid? Where do we want to build new power lines? How can we assure that local impacts and concerns are fully understood and – if necessary - compensated in the best possible way? All these questions cannot be answered by one single actor. On the contrary, we need procedures, formats and tools that allow for closer collaboration and joint solutions of different groups of society.
The 2nd BESTGRID workshop "Innovation through Collaboration" investigates how to design better projects by actively collaborating. We would like to share some of the lessons learned from almost 20 months of collaboration and at the same time look for lively discussions based on your experiences and insights beyond the realms of the project. 

Wind Power Integration

The 13th International Workshop on Large-Scale Integration of Wind Power into Power Systems as well as on Transmission Networks for Offshore Wind Power Plants will be held in Berlin from the 11th to 13th of November 2014. The event is sponsored by the BESTGRID partner 50Hertz.

4th Smart Communications and Technology Forum

“Smart Communications & Technology Forum” in Warsaw, Poland is an annual event about broader topics concerning Smart Grid and Smart Metering. The main aim of the forum is to bring together experts of smart grid and smart metering from different regions, so they can exchange experience in the sphere of innovation and achievements.

REserviceS Final Event

REservices - Wind and solar PV can replace conventional technology in providing grid support
This event will launch REserviceS' "Technical and economic recommendations for the design of a European market for grid support services, as well as for future network codes within the Third Liberalisation Package". 

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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