Newsletter #2

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  Newsletter #2 29 October 2015   
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Hello ,

The INSPIRE-Grid project is progressing quickly. In October, the first stakeholder workshop took place in Berlin. Scientists discussed and tested their intermediate research results with a group of different stakeholders, including grid operators and environmental NGOs. IZES presented their findings on stakeholders’ concerns and needs that will be published in two reports in the coming weeks: a general map picturing different stakeholder groups and their attitudes and a corresponding criteria catalogue on how to cope with these concerns and needs. Researchers from ETH Zurich gave an introduction on their work concerning participation strategies and verified their findings in subsequent discussions. The preliminary results of their work can be accessed on the INSPIRE-Grid website in the document “Establishing the best practices and determining a tool box”.





In this issue:

 Logo INSPIRE-Grid-003  

Project update

Poliedra and ARMINES have been working on two different methodologies for stakeholder engagement in grid development projects: multi-criteria analysis (MCA) and life cycle assessment (LCA). Read on to find out more about this research in an interview we conducted with ARMINES and a short introduction on MCA, as it is being utilized in this project, that Poliedra put together. In March, both institutes will release a publication on these methodologies.

The publication “Theoretical Framework for Methods Development” has been completed and verified. It contains a theoretical framework designed to assist the understanding of stakeholder attitudes toward new transmission lines. The framework is comprised of two primary categories – project characteristics (purpose, scale, landscape and stakeholders) and stakeholder characteristics (past local experience, concerns, societal values and energy system values). A third category, cross-cutting, relates to the temporal characteristics of the project. The publication concludes with a description of two example project typologies to demonstrate how the framework could be used to categorise transmission projects. The first example refers to an upgrade to an existing line in an urban area, the second to the development of a new line in a rural area. While there are a number of similarities between the two project typologies, there also exist key differences between them in each category of the framework. The hope is that, by highlighting these differences, the framework will assist with the development of a more effective engagement process that better addresses stakeholder needs and concerns.

What’s next?

In the coming months, work within the INSPIRE-Grid project will predominantly focus on case studies in Norway and France. The two grid operators Statnett and RTE are collaborating closely with Poliedra, ARMINES, RSE, and PIK. The case studies are being further supported by the national regulator NVE in Norway.

A preliminary framework for the case studies has been developed by PIK and can be accessed on our website. Fieldwork in Norway is expected to be conducted in two phases taking place in April (grid development project Bamble-Rød) and June (project Aurland-Sogndal) this year. PIK is currently developing a set of stakeholder interview questions to test the applicability of the conceptual framework and stakeholder engagement guidelines.

ARMINES will be applying the LCA methodology to the Cergy-Persan case study in France. Further work will be done in collaboration with PIK and RTE to evaluate how to best communicate the case study results to stakeholders and how the LCA could improve stakeholder engagement.


Get to know our partners: Armines

ARMINES is a non-profit organization, enabling public higher education and research establishments to entrust their contractual research activities to private organizations. ARMINES is part of a network of engineering schools overseen by the Department of Industry (Mines Paris Tech, Saint-Étienne, Douai, Alès, Nantes and Albi-Carmaux). With a total turnover of more than €47 million, ARMINES has held onto the top spot amongst the private contract research institutions affiliated to higher education establishments. ARMINES is also a member of EIRMA (European Industrial Research Management Association), EARTO (European Association of Research and Technology Organisations) and EARMA (European Association of Research Managers and Administrators).

The Centre for Energy efficiency of Systems (CES) is one of the research centres of MINES ParisTech, a major French engineering and management school with research and education foci in energy and the environment. The CES was created at the end of 1976 in response to the first energy crisis and presently covers a wide range of studies.

The following projects and activities constitute a basis for the contribution to the INSPIRE-Grid project and regard the application of life cycle assessment (LCA) to study the environmental performance of electricity grids:

  • coordinating the European project REGENER that elaborates a methodology to apply LCA in the building sector,
  • coordinating the European project E-CO-HOUSING (life cycle assessment and design of urban developments),
  • participating in several European projects, e.g. the PRESCO Thematic Network (Practical recommendations for sustainable construction), ENSLIC Building (promotion of LCA in building) and LORE-LCA (FP7 coordination action regarding LCA in the building sector),
  • developing a life cycle assessment tool for buildings (EQUER, distributed by IZUBA Energies).


We asked ARMINES’ Bruno Peuportier, Patrick Schalbart, and Guillaume Audard three questions about the INSPIRE-Grid project:

Why is stakeholder engagement in grid projects important and why do you think research for this topic is needed?

Stakeholder engagement is important to give people more power in public decision-making and to find better solutions. To achieve this goal, one requirement is to provide them with good quality information.

Most people are not aware of the energetic, environmental, and economic issues related to grid projects. It is essential to help stakeholders get a complete view of their costs and benefits with scientifically sound information that is as objective and transparent as possible.

Decision-making implies dealing with impacts of various nature (technical, socio-economical, environmental), time frames (short, medium and long-term), and scales (local, regional, national, global). It requires some value judgement, which can differ among stakeholder groups. Therefore, science-based and value-based information should be distinguished. Stakeholders’ competing interests call for appropriate tools to facilitate consensus in decision-making. Research is needed to create these tools or improve existing ones. Another challenge of research is to provide exhaustive information that is understandable to everyone.

How will the research you are doing in the INSPIRE-Grid framework address this topic?

ARMINES is working on developing a methodology that helps evaluate the environmental impacts of a grid project based on life cycle assessment (LCA) and aiming at being accurate and transparent on the assumptions made. We are therefore contributing to improve the information available on grid projects, which can be communicated to stakeholders.

A grid project interacts with the environment throughout its life cycle – from resource extraction to manufacture its components to decommissioning and waste treatment. It also affects electricity production through various cause-effect chains. A grid project can sometimes result in the decrease of some environmental impacts. They are evaluated by using LCA, which considers the project’s whole life cycle. This is required to ensure that impacts are really reduced and not just shifted to other areas, for instance from the operation of the line to its building phase. Moreover, LCA covers several impact categories such as climate change, human health, resource depletion or acidification. However, LCA results may be difficult to interpret without any prior knowledge. In 2015, we will be working together with PIK and RTE to find how these results can be efficiently used in engagement processes.

What is working with the INSPIRE-Grid partners like and how does it affect your activities?

With our focus on technology and energy, working together with TSOs and social scientists is both very enriching and challenging for us. By way of diverse approaches, the quality of research activities improves. However, a common language needs to be defined, as the same words can be understood in various ways.

The development of the LCA methodology implies limited interaction with the other partners but it was important to explain our work to them and how it was contributing to the improvement of stakeholder engagement. In the second phase of the project, closer collaboration between PIK, RTE and ARMINES is planned.

Bruno Peuportier, PhD, is a senior scientist and teacher at MINES ParisTech and professor at École des Ponts ParisTech. He is the coordinator of the Chair “Eco-design of buildings and infrastructure”, and is involved in the research on the environmental performance of buildings, renewable energies and new technologies, thermal modelling of buildings and design tools. He has coordinated and participated in several European projects on these issues. 
Patrick Schalbart, PhD, is a junior scientist and teacher at MINES ParisTech. His main research interests lie in energy and environment, specifically those applied to the modelling of buildings and energy transformation systems. He has been involved in several national and European research projects including Frisbee’s FP7 project on the environmental impact caused by the cold chain. 
Guillaume Audard holds a Master degree in environmental engineering. He co-authored two preparatory studies for the European Commission in the framework of the Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC (DG ENER Lot 22 and DG ENER Lot 23). These studies recommended policy measures to reduce the environmental impacts of products that consume energy, based on a life cycle approach. He is currently a PhD student and working on a methodology to evaluate the environmental impacts of an electricity grid reinforcement project using consequential life cycle assessment. 


Short introduction to our research: what is a multi-criteria analysis?

Transmission lines are built in order to obtain the benefits from operating energy systems; in general, the main potential positive effects include:

  • improved security of supply;
  • technical resilience/system safety;
  • improved market integration;
  • integration of renewable energy sources (RES);
  • reduction in losses in the transmission grid;
  • reduction of GHG emissions in the power system;

At the same time, transmission lines can generate impacts on the environment and the society during both the construction and the operation phases. In particular, the following have been identified in literature as potential negative effects:

  • Landscape and visual intrusion
  • Property values decrease
  • Noise
  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Land use
  • Damage to ecosystems

One of INSPIRE-Grid’s main pillars constitutes the generation of – within the stakeholder engagement process – complete information concerning all the aspects of a grid reinforcement project. This includes costs (to whom), benefits (for whom), design choices, involved actors, and environmental, economic, and health impacts. By way of an interdisciplinary approach, INSPIRE-Grid will develop Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) assessment methods to facilitate decision-making, which will be combined with engagement tools and tested with stakeholders from existing or concluded grid development project case studies.

The effects of the alternative options of grid infrastructure reinforcement will be evaluated through an assessment process, which will take into account such multiple socio-economic, environmental and technical aspects. Usually, one alternative performs better than others from the point of view of one aspect, while it performs worse from the perspective of other indicators. So, how to choose? This is whereMCAcomes into play.

MCA is concerned with structuring and solving decision-making problems characterized by conflicting criteria[1] and actors with different viewpoints. The analysis uses the preferences of all the actors involved (i.e. planning authorities, TSOs, stakeholders) to display the trade-offs among criteria, so that the actors can understand the advantages and disadvantages of the considered alternatives.

Within INSPIRE-Grid, MCA methods will be developed and tested on two case studies, i.e. the grid reinforcement of the Bamble-Rød and the Aurland-Songdal lines, in Norway. The MCA methods will incorporate and represent the values of the stakeholders, characterized for instance by the importance they assign to the evaluation criteria. A score based on the trade-offs between the different effects and the values of the stakeholders may be calculated for each project option. After identifying the stakeholders, alternatives (i.e. the alternative projects to be evaluated), scenarios (identified by the exogenous variables out of the decision maker’s control) and objectives (i.e. the needs and the wants) of the different stakeholders, a set of indicators will be defined for each case stud. The level of detail and the models used to estimate the indicator values will depend on the available data.

The outcome of the MCA will be used to highlight the effects for the different stakeholders (which have different interests, values and levels of decision power), in order to take into account and measure the possible conflicts related to the stakeholders. Within each case study, depending on the level of interactions with the stakeholders, we will highlight the issues of convergence and of greater contrast.

The objective is to provide information to manage the conflict and support negotiation, for instance exploring new reasonable options, or identifying subgroups of actors that are in strong agreement, which could serve as a catalyst for consensus building.

MCA is being increasingly used in stakeholder involvement in energy problems and for the definition of power line paths (e.g. see [1, 4-7]). As reported by Løken [8], the use of MCA methods has many benefits for the decision maker. The idea is that the process of assessing utility functions will help the decision maker to identify the most important issues, generate and evaluate alternatives, resolve judgment and preference conflicts among the decision makers and identify improvements to the impact [9].



1.        Georgopoulou, E., Y. Sarafidis, and D. Diakoulaki, Design and implementation of a group DSS for sustaining renewable energies exploitation. European Journal of Operational Research, 1998. 109(2): p. 483-500.


2.         Hobbs, B.F. and G.T.F. Horn, Building public confidence in energy planning: a multimethod MCDM approach to demand-side planning at BC gas. Energy Policy, 1997. 25(3): p. 357-375.


3.         Karni, R., P. Feigin, and A. Breiner, Multicriterion issues in energy policymaking. European Journal of Operational Research, 1992. 56(1): p. 30-40.


4.       Diakoulaki, D., C.H. Antunes, and A.G. Martins, MCDA and energy planning, in Multiple criteria decision analysis: state of the art surveys, J. Figueira, S. Greco, and M. Ehrgott, Editors. 2005, Springer: Boston. p. 859-890.


5.         Rousseau, A. and J.-M. Martel, Environmental assessment of an electric transmission line project: A MCDA method, in Applying multiple criteria aid for decision to environmental management, M. Paruccini, Editor. 1994, Kluwer Academic Publishers: Dordrecht. p. 163-185.


6.         Demircan, S., M. Aydin, and S.S. Durduran, Finding optimum route of electrical energy transmission line using multi-criteria with Q-learning. Expert Systems with Applications, 2011. 38(4): p. 3477-3482.


7.         Bagli, S., D. Geneletti, and F. Orsi, Routeing of power lines through least-cost path analysis and multicriteria evaluation to minimise environmental impacts. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 2011. 31(3): p. 234-239.


8.         Løken, E., Use of multicriteria decision analysis methods for energy planning problems. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2007. 11(7): p. 1584-1595.

9.         Laniado, E., A. Luè, and S. Muratori. Participation in multi-criteria decisions: a software tool and a case study. in 2010 International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software. 2010. Ottawa, Canada.



[1] What does “conflicting criteria” mean? Let us consider two potential alternatives (A1 and A2) and their respective performances on the considered criteria. Suppose that A1 performs better than A2 for some of the criteria, and vice-versa for other criteria. A gain in one criterion = loss in another one.


Event announcements

3rd BESTGRID workshop “Exchanging good practices”, 26 February in London

Have you heard of a pylon design competition that took place in the UK? Are you familiar with the programme “Natural Grid” that aims at enhancing ecosystems through the innovative use of National Grid’s assets? Have you ever thought about engaging with your stakeholders with the help of an old sofa?

Infrastructure project promoters, NGOs, and authorities all over Europe are facing very similar challenges regarding public acceptability, stakeholder engagement, permitting procedures and the reduction of environmental impacts. Many have developed new approaches and brainstormed innovative ideas. Why not learn from these and enhance them instead of running the risk of reinventing the wheel?

With this purpose in mind, our 3rdBESTGRID workshop will be dedicated to exchanging good practices. The BESTGRID consortium kindly invites you to share the experiences that you have gained and learn about successful practices, thus benefitting by leapfrogging. 

More information and registration:


Energy Storage Europe – Expo and Conference 2015

For the first time, the Energy Storage will be established together with the International Renewable Energy Storage Conference (IRES 2015) as well as the 6th Storageday. Moreover, the 4th Power-to-Gas Conference and the 2nd VDE Financial Dialogue will be held at this year’s Energy Storage Europe.

This means that from March 9th – 11th 2015, the most important events in the field of energy storage will be combined in Düsseldorf, Germany. More than 100 exhibitors are expected at the trade fair. Market leaders such as Lechlanché, BYD, Areva, Bosch, Siemens, Varta, Parker, SMA, E.ON and many other top companies have already confirmed their presence. Be a part of it and network with over 1,500 international participants from more than 40 countries who are expected to attend!

+100 top speakers will give lectures on topics such as innovations, trends, technologies, business and financial models.

For more information, visit the website of the Energy Storage.



The European Network for Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) and the European Distribution System Operators for Smart Grids (EDSO) are organising the 4th Annual InnoGrid2020+, the European R&D conference for electricity transmission and distribution grids on 31 March and 1 April. Beyond panel sessions and debates, InnoGrid2020+ is offering a progressively improved platform for knowledge exchange and networking through its project poster and exhibition sessions.Sessions will feature presentations and discussions on the following topics:

  • The role of R&D and state of play in economic growth, competitiveness and EU 2030 objectives
  • Integrating R&D into the European Energy System
  • The innovative development of regulation and business models to maximise flexibility
  • The role of innovation for infrastructure and networks in the Energy Union
  • Taking stock of ongoing projects: Knowledge sharing for progress
  • Towards consumers – What should DSO/TSO RD&D address?

More information and registration:




About INSPIRE-Grid

INSPIRE-Grid is an EU-funded research project that stands for “Improved and eNhanced Stakeholders Participation In Reinforcement of Electricity Grid.”With ten partners from six different countries, INSPIRE-Grid aims to increase stakeholder engagement in grid expansion projects, better manage conflicts, and speed up the permitting process. By way of an interdisciplinary approach, INSPIRE-Grid will develop stakeholder-led processes and design an expert-led European good practice guide. Methods to facilitate decision-making will be newly combined with engagement tools and tested with stakeholders from existing or concluded grid development project case studies.

INSPIRE-Grid partners: research institutes (Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico – RSE SpA (coordinator), Association pour la recherché et le developpement des methods et processus industriels – ARMINES, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich – ETHZ, Institut für ZukunftsEnergieSysteme – IZES, Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung – PIK, Poliedra Centri di Conoscenza e Formazione del Politecnico di Milano – Poliedra), transmission system operators (National Grid, RTE, Statnett), and the stakeholder platform Renewables-Grid-Initiative – RGI.


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