BESTGRID – testing better practices

BESTGRID – testing better practices

Germanwatch engages in the European project "BESTGRID" to ensure fair public participation and transparency when planning the electricity grid expansion. 

Modernising and expanding the electricity grid is a crucial building block to enable a successful transition of Europe's energy system from fossil fuel dependence towards renewable energy.  In the near future, Europe's low-carbon and sustainable power supply will require a stable electricity grid that fits to the weather susceptible wind- and solar energy production and furthermore, connects the new and decentralized location of the facilities to the urban agglomeration and consumption areas.

However, planning and realizing grid development is often challenging due to local opposition and complex authorization procedures. Within the process of  planning new electrical power lines, stakeholders and residents often demand answers to questions such as, "Is this power line necessary?",  "Are there any risks involved?", "Is it possible to use underground cables instead of overhead lines?" and "Can the line be placed in a different location?". The answers to questions like these will never fully satisfy the needs and interests of the various different people affected. Despite these challenges, an open and transparent approach and the integration of local stakeholders and those affected will lead to a long-term improvement of grid development processes. This is why Germanwatch is working together with transmission system operators, European environmental organizations and the research institute IIASA in order to develop innovative methods for grid development.

Germanwatch advises network operators with their conception of action plans and monitors the way in which these plans are set into motion by network providers as well as the authorities in order to give feedback to the transmission system operators. We have summarised the analyses, impressions and evaluation of our experiences from the BESTGRID pilot projects in the >> handbook "Public Participation & Transparency in Power Grid Planning Learnings and Recommendations from the BESTGRID Project".

BESTGRID pilot projects focus on different key aspects

  • UK, Belgium: NemoLink project, AC cable from 400kV Richborough substation in south-east England to DC converter station on the coast, DC undersea cable between DC converter stations on English and Belgian coasts, length: ~ 120km, AC cable from DC converter station on the Belgian coast to Zeebrugge substation (National Grid NemoLink and Elia). Expected start of operation: 2018.
  • Belgium: Stevin project, 380kV AC line/cable, length: 47km, out of which 12km new overhead line, 10km underground cable, 25km upgrade of existing 220kV line (TSO Elia). Expected start of operation: 2017.
  • Belgium: 150kV AC underground cable project Waterloo-Braine-l’Alleud in a densely populated area near Brussels (TSO Elia); length: 5km. Project put on hold in 2014
  • Germany: SuedLink project, a 500kV DC transmission line from northern to southern Germany (TSOs TenneT and Transnet BW), length: 600/800km. Expected start of oper- ation: 2022.
  • Germany: Project Bertikow-Pasewalk, upgrade of an existing 220kV line by a new 380kV overhead power line in north-east Germany (TSO 50Hertz Transmission), length: 30km. Expected start of operation: 2017.
  • Italy: Test of communication tools for sharing good practice (TSO Terna).


Cover BestGrid Legal Report

Opportunities and restrictions for public participation in European transmission grid projects

A legal report submitted to the BESTGRID Project

This report describes the planning and licensing process for extra high voltage transmission lines under EU and national law regulatory framework. It is shown that the TEN-E Regulation 347/2013 introduces binding priorities (PCI, Projects of Common Interest) into national planning processes, shifting participation requirements to the EU level. The comparison between the German and the UK system of planning and permitting displays the different approaches: while the regulatory system is much more refined in Germany, granting much access and public participation, the participatory approach in the UK is more open, and access to justice is easier. >> mehr
Cover Participation Handbook

Public Participation and Transparency in Power Grid Planning: Recommendations from the BESTGRID Project

Handbook – Part 1

This handbook by Germanwatch highlights new approaches that have been tested by the partners of the European BESTGRID project. Within BESTGRID, Transmission system operators from Belgium, the UK, Italy and Germany have closely cooperated with national and regional non-governmental organisations. Germanwatch has been following the jointly developed good-practice approaches to early and transparent power grid planning and has compiled its findings in this handbook. >> mehr
Cover White Paper on the Electricity Market and the New Climate Policy Instrument

White Paper on the Electricity Market and the New Climate Policy Instrument

Summary Evaluation by WWF and Germanwatch

The "electricity market" White Paper published by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) puts forward practical proposals for implementing key projects in the Federal Government's short-term plan for achieving the energy transition. In general the WWF and Germanwatch view the BMWi's proposed measures as a good basis for the forthcoming debate. If carried through, these measures could form the cornerstone of a credible climate policy. However, the following remarks are limited to the analysis and evaluation of the new climate policy instrument for securing an adequate CO2 reduction contribution by the power sector. Only a short appraisal is given of the other three proposals. >> mehr
Cover PP Public Participation

Recommendations on Transparency and Public Participation in the Context of Electricity Transmission Lines

This position paper by Germanwatch develops specific recommendations to the issue of public participation in the context of electricity transmission power lines. Public participation has become more and more important in policy making during the past years. Policy makers have reacted to the urgent need to enhance public participation in the field of power grids. New laws in this context, for example in Germany or at the European level, demonstrate this approach. >> mehr

Download Handbook: Recommendations from the BESTGRID project

Further Information

Germanwatch is an active member of the European Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI). Within RGI, power grid operators and NGOs join forces to support power grids in Europe for both decentralised and large-scale renewable energy sources:

Project Website BESTGRID:

The BESTGRID Consortium

Co-funded by