Nation­wide land­scape assess­ment assists with pow­er grid expansion

How do pow­er lines affect the land­scape? How can areas for recre­ation­al use be com­pre­hen­si­bly tak­en into account in pow­er grid plan­ning? What con­clu­sions can be drawn from this for nation­wide grid expan­sion? Answers to these ques­tions are pro­vid­ed by a new and, for the first time, nation­wide assess­ment mod­el for the land­scape in pow­er grid expan­sion. The research project was car­ried out by the Nürtin­gen-Geis­lin­gen Uni­ver­si­ty of Applied Sci­ences (HfWU) in coop­er­a­tion with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Stuttgart and oth­er partners.

The assess­ment approach pro­vides a method that facil­i­tates and improves the assess­ment of the land­scape when select­ing route cor­ri­dors, for exam­ple for the fed­er­al sec­toral plan­ning for the expan­sion of the elec­tric­i­ty grid.
“Until now, land­scape as a pro­tect­ed resource has been giv­en too lit­tle weight in the plan­ning of route cor­ri­dors for the nation­wide trans­mis­sion grid, part­ly because no spa­tial­ly com­pre­hen­sive and nation­wide applic­a­ble approach was avail­able. Now, for the first time, a uni­form and nation­wide method is avail­able which facil­i­tates and improves the tech­ni­cal assess­ment of the land­scape and recre­ation­al use. In this way, the role of the land­scape can be strength­ened in the undoubt­ed­ly nec­es­sary restruc­tur­ing of the ener­gy sup­ply,” says Prof. Dr. Beate Jes­sel, Pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­al Agency for Nature Con­ser­va­tion (BfN).
“Since the approach for cal­i­brat­ing the land­scape assess­ment is based on the results of an exten­sive, pho­to-based pop­u­la­tion sur­vey via the Inter­net, it explic­it­ly inte­grates the user per­spec­tive. This inno­v­a­tive land­scape assess­ment approach thus rep­re­sents an impor­tant addi­tion to the con­ven­tion­al, most­ly expert-based land­scape assess­ment pro­ce­dures,” explains Prof. Dr. Michael Roth from Nürtin­gen-Geis­lin­gen Uni­ver­si­ty of Applied Sci­ences (HfWU), which car­ried out the research and devel­op­ment project in coop­er­a­tion with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Stuttgart, Insti­tute for Land­scape Plan­ning and Ecol­o­gy, Bosch & Part­ner GmbH and the Insti­tute for Sus­tain­able Ener­gy and Resource Uti­liza­tion (INER).
The approach cho­sen is new because the land­scape assess­ment is based on an extreme­ly broad inter­net-based sur­vey of cit­i­zens on the cri­te­ria of diver­si­ty, indi­vid­u­al­i­ty, beau­ty and recre­ation­al val­ue spec­i­fied in the Fed­er­al Nature Con­ser­va­tion Act. In par­tic­u­lar, hilly to moun­tain­ous areas were clas­si­fied more pos­i­tive­ly than flat areas due to the relief; where­as, for exam­ple, the heath land­scapes and coasts were also clas­si­fied as hav­ing a high­er val­ue pre­cise­ly because of their flat but typ­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics. It also showed that there were match­ing rat­ings for many of the images. The indi­vid­ual sub­jec­tiv­i­ty often cit­ed as an obsta­cle to eval­u­a­tion in land­scape assess­ment thus turned out to be less dom­i­nant than fre­quent­ly claimed. “In this sense, the results are very valu­able — also as a con­tri­bu­tion in the debates for a bet­ter and more pur­pose­ful par­tic­i­pa­tion of the pop­u­la­tion in the pow­er grid expan­sion,” the BfN pres­i­dent continued.

The final report pub­lished by the Fed­er­al Agency for Nature Con­ser­va­tion (FKZ: 3515 82 2800) “Devel­op­ment of an assess­ment mod­el for the land­scape in elec­tric­i­ty grid expan­sion” is avail­able for down­load free of charge at: https://www.bfn.de/fileadmin/BfN/erneuerbareenergien/Dokumente/Skript597.pdf.