Shaping the grid debate

‘Shaping the Grid Debate’ (Debatte Stromnetze gestalten) has been established in Germany with the purpose of advancing the debate between different civil society actors and the broader public on the necessity of further developing the transmission grid to allow for an increasing share of renewables.

In order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, Europe's energy system must be transformed as quickly as possible to become climate neutral. This means, in the medium term, that the electricity system must be based 100% on renewable energies, with the weather-dependent energy sources of wind and solar playing a central role. In order to be able to operate the energy system with a very high share of solar and wind in a safe and stable manner, it is necessary, among other things, to develop the electricity grid throughout Europe. Exactly how much grid expansion and reconstruction is necessary and how the associated energy system of the future should be designed is the result of consideration of various other goals: It must be as fair, economical, secure in supply and nature-friendly as possible, while enabling participation and co-determination. In order to weigh up these goals and the means by which they can be achieved, a dialogue involving society as a whole is necessary.

Because of this, we consider it necessary to facilitate and shape the debate on the need to expand the transmission grid between various civil society actors and in the public arena. In this collaborative project under the umbrella of RGI, the German NGO Germanwatch enters into an exchange with local and regional actors and initiates a corresponding dialogue at the federal level.

‘Shaping the Grid Debate’ aims to promote a socially just and environmentally compatible transformation of the energy system. The project has been initiated to provide a neutral platform for interested, potentially skeptical actors to engage in a dialogue, thereby deepening a culture of constructive communication.

Aims of our project 'Shaping the Grid Debate'

  1. Enable public participation in energy infrastructure planning (participatory procedures, two-way communication)
  2. Building trust between the different actors on the basis of scientific analysis
  3. Establish a constructive culture of debate and promote cooperation
  4. Demand and establish transparency in the electricity grid debate
  5. Evaluate and discuss network expansion scenarios with regard to climate targets

Note: This video was filmed in Summer 2021. Since then, some of the staff involved in the project have left Germanwatch, while others joined the team.

This follows the principles of the European Grid Declarations, a series of declarations which united 29 of Europe’s largest environmental NGOs and grid operators in a pledge to work in partnership to ensure that energy transition can be achieved hand-in-hand with environmental protection, transparency and public participation. The project "Shaping the Grid Debate" takes place in the context of RGI’s programme "Implementing the European Grid Declaration."

Implementing our project 'Shaping the Grid Debate'

In the context of the project ‘Shaping the Grid Debate,' Germanwatch has been in contact with local stakeholders since 2017. This has been accompanied by a dialogue at federal level. A central element of this dialogue is the series of perspective-change workshops: these enable an exchange between a wide range of actors in order to jointly sound out the requirements and obstacles of the future energy system. A detailed description and results of the workshops can be found here (in German).

So far, perspective change workshops covered the following topics:

Through a large number of publications, the project contributes to making the debate on the modification and expansion of the transmission grids more objective:


Stephanie Bätjer
Director - Communication

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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.