The German “Energiewende” in conjunction with the political decision to shut-off all its nuclear power plants by 2022 are driving new long distance underground power transmission projects in Germany.
Up till now a large share of the power consumption and the resulting power demand is located in the South of the country. Therefore, in the past many locations of large conventional power generation units such as nuclear power plants were in the south, too. The implementation of the renewable energy act 2004 lead to large investments in renewable energies (RE) mainly in photovoltaic and onshore wind power. In the meantime the renewable energy generation capacities boosted up to more than 60 GW and are still increasing providing large amounts of on- and offshore wind power capacities in the North - where a huge potential of wind resources is available. In order to provide highest energy reliability and to compensate the shutdown of the remaining eight nuclear power plants point-to-point HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) power transmission links are being planned by the national transmission operators. In the future it is envisaged that these transmission links will transport wind power hundreds of kilometers from North to South. However, due to the missing public acceptance of the established technology of overhead transmission lines (OHL) a priority of underground cable solutions was agreed to in December 2015. This was a fundamental change which drives new developments for innovative construction technologies such as trenchless cable laying. For ILF Consulting Engineers and many other players in the pipeline industry it is a unique chance to make use of the long-term experiences in underground projects. A transfer of know-how is required in order to cope with the challenges ahead in long distance underground cable projects. Since energy markets are predicted to merge the lessons to be learned in Germany are expected be of great value to other regions.