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: