New volume of the IKEM publications series published

Considering procedural privileges in conjunction with acceptance

Grid booster Kupferzell

The third edition of the IKEM publication series has been published by Springer. Dr. Ilka Dörrfuß’s dissertation uses the practical example of “grid booster” to address a central challenge of climate protection and the energy transition: How can urgently needed measures be implemented more quickly without jeopardizing social acceptance?

Energy transition projects and other climate protection measures in Germany are often slowed down by long procedural processes. This also applies to the so-called grid boosters, which are large battery storage systems designed to stabilize the increasingly renewable energy-based power supply and reduce the need for constructing additional North-South power lines. The construction of grid booster pilot facilities was announced in February 2019, and the planning and approval processes are still ongoing to this day.

In her legal disseration, Dr. Ilka Dörrfuß explores ways to promote the regulatory approval of grid boosters, thereby promoting their quicker construction. To achieve this, she analyzed existing procedural privileges from various fields such as infrastructure, spatial planning, and construction law, examining their applicability to grid boosters. The author concludes that further support for climate- and public welfare-oriented projects is possible; however, she suggests that additional specialized procedures for immediate challenges should not be created. Instead, the author argues for a standardization and improvement of procedural law. In such a system, projects could be given special privileges, through categorization as exempt from formal procedures or subject to a simplified process, for instance.

In addition, the dissertation explores the aspect of public acceptance for the procedures, the duration of which can be significantly delayed by protests and citizen initiatives, as seen in the case of the grid booster site in the Baden-Württemberg municipality of Kupferzell. The author points out that the immediate availability of relevant information, transparent processes, and opportunities for co-design and co-decision-making in specific cases have contributed to greater acceptance. However, comprehensive public participation has not been a mandatory part of the procedures to date. She therefore recommends the creation of a uniform participation format for infrastructure projects at the federal level, through which citizens can be comprehensively involved at an early stage. The French débat public (public debate) could serve as a role model for this.

“Based on the climate decision of the Federal Constitutional Court, the legislature has recently defined more and more energy transition facilities as being in the overriding public interest – including battery storage in Section 11c EnWG. Whether this classification will accelerate planning and approval procedures in the long term remains to be seen. The work of Ilka Dörrfuß makes it clear that pure procedural privileges are not sufficient to advance the energy transition – local acceptance and other aspects of social participation must always be taken into account,” says Prof. Dr. Michael Rodi, IKEM Director and publisher of the IKEM publication series.

“I am delighted with this excellent contribution to the IKEM publications series, which underlines that promoting acceptance and expediting procedures do not necessarily contradict each other. Serious, well-structured public participation based on the French model and carried out by an independent body could address concerns and wishes of the population in the early stages of an infrastructure project. This requires time and resources, but leads to legally secure results, more acceptance on the ground and ultimately shorter procedures,” adds co-editor Dr. Simon Schäfer-Stradowsky.

About the author:

Ilka Dörrfuß studied law at the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg and completed one station of her legal clerkship at IKEM. She received her doctorate from the German University of Administrative Sciences in Speyer. She currently works in the state administration of Baden-Württemberg.


Dr Simon Schäfer-StradowskyQuelle: IKEM/Jule Halsinger
Prof Dr Michael RodiQuelle: IKEM/Jule Halsinger

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IKEM – Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility e.V.