Between a rock and a hard place: Transmission system operators in the context of legal obligation and public perception. The case of SuedLink.

Proceedings Publication Date:

15 Apr 2019
Presenter
Thomas Wagner
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Author
Thomas Wagner
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Abstract
Large-scale energy infrastructure projects are operating in a highly dynamic and complex environment. They must be completed within the set cost and time framework – in spite of rising complexity, political and public attention and pressure. SuedLink also faces these challenges. It is the largest infrastructure project of the energy transition in Germany and will be built in cooperation by two transmission system operators: TenneT TSO GmbH and TransnetBW GmbH. With its total length of around 700 kilometers, SuedLink is decisive for the success of the energy transition in Germany. As a result of public protest in 2015, SuedLink suddenly found itself in a new dimension of complexity. Until then, SuedLink had been planned as an overhead line. By 2016, SuedLink and other high voltage direct current projects had to be built as underground cables. The legal prioritization of underground cables provided an important basis for increasing social acceptance and meant a restart for the SuedLink planning and communications. TenneT and TransnetBW have learned their lessons for project communication. This talk gives an insight into how TenneT and TransnetBW, first, reshaped, and then, implemented their project communication strategy against the backdrop of the changing legal circumstances. The related opportunities and risks brought about by external expectations are elucidated by concrete examples.