The New Planning Regime for the Expansion of the German Onshore Electricity Grid – a Role Model for Europe?

Since Summer 2011, a new planning regime governs the expansion of the German onshore electricity grid. Its aim is to accelerate the installation and operation of electricity transmission cables in order to bring the nationally proclaimed “energy transition” forward. To this end, a complex new four-tiered planning regime has been adopted, which endows extensive responsibility for planning and implementing the development of the national electricity grid to a federal authority. To some extent, with this new regime, the German legislator implemented ahead of time a number of planning law requirements which are binding for all EU Member States on the basis of the newly adopted EU-Regulation No. 347/2013. Hence, Germany’s new planning regime for the expansion of its electricity grid could potentially provide a role model for transposing the new EU regulation, and, as such, possibly be of interest to other EU Member States’ legislators. This article presents an overview of the new German onshore planning regime along with an initial evaluation and outlines the new EU Regulation No. 347/2013, followed by a discussion as to whether the German regime could be a role model for other EU Member States currently deciding how to achieve the desired acceleration effects.

With the amendment and adoption of the EnWG and NABEG, a new planning regime was introduced in Germany in an attempt to accelerate the expansion of the German transmission electricity grid and, thus, step-up and foster the national energy transition, striving for a national power supply increasingly driven by renewable energy in the medium and long-term. To this end, a complex regulation scheme was established, introducing three new planning instruments, the responsibility for which lies with the BNetzA as a federal authority: the federal network development planning, the federal requirements planning and the federal sector planning. Both the manageability and effectiveness of the new planning regime remain to be seen. Taking into account the new concentration of extensive planning competences at the BNetzA and the involved synergy effects, the new scheme appears promising in terms of its potential to accelerate the realisation of the energy grid expansion. However, the complexity of the different, but interrelated administrative decision-making levels and the deferral of concerned third parties’ right to challenge their substantive and procedural integrity to the fourth and last stage, namely the planning approval stage, cast doubt as to the scheme’s effectiveness in light of the risk of over-burdening available review procedures and undermining any acceleration effects. Also, one might question whether the extensive rules on public participation during each stage of the decision-making actually promote expedited project authorisation, or, to the contrary, are more likely to result in more or less repetitive consideration of the same issues at each level. On the other hand, the new regime does, to a certain extent, already implement structural legal planning and authorisation requirements of recent EU legislation. In this regard, Germany may have taken innovative steps for the transposition of Regulation No. 347/2013, which could potentially serve as an example for other EU Member States, especially considering Germany’s role as a crucial transit-state for the trans-European power supply.

Copyright: © Lexxion Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
Quelle: Issue 01/2013 (April 2013)
Seiten: 19
Preis inkl. MwSt.: € 41,65
Autor: Dr. Markus Appel
Anna Burghardt

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