Zurich, Switzerland

Cable Workshop - Understanding Underground Cables

The impact of overhead power lines is a key trigger for public opposition against grid extension projects. Often local pressure groups demand that a new line shall be put underground. Expectations into undergrounding are high while actual experience is comparatively low. In Europe, first projects include some kilometres of highest voltage underground cables, but the integration of innovative cable solutions into an aging power grid remains a challenge. As a consequence a lot of questions remain highly debated.

  • Technology: How many kilometres of underground are technologically feasible while securing system stability? When, where, how?
  • Environment: What are the impacts on the environment during the construction and the operation of underground electricity grids?
  • Costs: How high are additional costs of underground solutions compared to overhead lines? And what are potential savings?
  • Regulation: What criteria could be used to decide between underground and overhead solutions during planning and permitting procedures?
  • Policy: And why do different countries take very different political approaches to regulate if and how many cables shall be built?

During a 1,5-day workshop we discussed these questions, shared recent experiences, identified knowledge gaps and gathered as many answers as possible. At the first day we received valuable input about state-of-the-art technologyenvironmental impacts, costs and financial aspects and various political approaches in Europe. At the end of Day 1 we had identified the most relevant open questions, which we further explored on Day 2 in two workings groups:

1) Policy, Regulation & Costs
2) Technology & Environment

Finally, the results of both working groups were discussed, refined and consolidated in a panel discussion and open feedback session.


Wednesday, 13 Feb 2013 (Day 1)

12:00 Networking Lunch

13:00 Welcome
Bettina von Kupsch | Swissgrid
Antonella Battaglini | RGI 
Elmar Grosse Ruse | WWF Switzerland

13:45 Swiss Evaluation Model: Overhead or Underground?
Cornelia Gogel | Swiss Federal Office of Energy | Presentation 

14:15 Coffee

14:45 Cable Technology Update
Wilfried Fischer | ENTSO-E/ 50Hertz | Presentation
Ton Geul | VSMC | Presentation

15:15 Environmental Impacts of Undergrounding Highest Voltage Transmission Lines Karsten Runge | OECOS | Presentation by Dennis Lummer 

15:45 TenneT-Case Study “Randstad“ & Joint declaration with Europacable endorsing partial undergrounding
Alan Croes and Martin Groll | TenneT | Presentation

Challenges and Solutions in the Expansion and Modernisation of the Power Grids in Germany
Katharina Schäfer | German Ministry of Economics and Technology |Presentation

16:15 Coffee

16:45 Understanding the Costs of Undergrounding
Michael Ritzau | BET | Presentation

17:15 Case Studies “Experiences in France and the UK”
Martine Debiez | RTE | Presentation 
Hector Pearson | National Grid | Presentation

17:45 Danish Policy on Underground Cabling of Highest Voltage Lines
Anders Højgaard Kristensen | Danish Energy Agency | Presentation

18:15 European Policy and Stakeholder Approaches on Underground Transmission Lines Antina Sander | RGI | Presentation

19:30 Aperitif & Networking Dinner


Thursday, 14 February 2013 (Day 2)

9:00 Swissgrid’s Exhibition

10:00 Key Questions of Day 1 to be discussed in two working groups:
1) Costs, Policy & Regulatory Issues (chair: Antonella Battaglini)
2) Technology & Environment (chair: Guido Axmann)

13:00 Networking Lunch

14:30 Panel discussion on outcome and next steps:
Paul Hawker | Department of Energy and Climate Change, UK
Bettina von Kupsch | Swissgrid
Volker Wendt | Europacable and
Adel Motawi | Terna

16:00 Conclusion & Outlook
Antonella Battaglini | RGI

17:00 End of the workshop

Photo gallery



Theresa Schneider
Senior Manager–Communication

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t: +49 30 7677194 55

RGI gratefully acknowledges the EU LIFE funding support:

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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the LIFE Programme. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.