Improved and enhanced stakeholder participation in the reinforcement of the electricity gridThe INSPIRE-Grid project was born from the observation that, although the modernization of the current electricity infrastructure is recognized as one of the most important enablers for the energy transition toward a low carbon economy, many projects to further develop electricity grids are delayed or even cancelled – mostly due to challenges related to the permitting procedure and to the opposition of the local stakeholders and residents. The point is that some stakeholders feel that their views are not taken properly into consideration.
So what can be done to better integrate the views, concerns and beliefs of stakeholders into the planning and permitting procedure?
During the curse of the project we investigated the matter and we developed several tools. We are confident that our outcomes can be of interest for different subjects: not only scientists but also practitioners, public authorities and administrations, civil society organizations. In order to inform all these interested parties, we produced different summaries targeted to different kinds of audience.
Analysis of stakeholders concerns and needs
The extension of the electricity grid has turned out to be a difficult task as the construction of new power lines frequently encounters public resistance. Studies have shown that stakeholders’ concerns and needs within this context are highly relevant acceptance factors. As a matter of course, the stakeholders affected by grid extension are not a homogeneous group. In fact, stakeholder constellations may be very different depending on the particular level (local, national etc.) or a respective project. Furthermore, the relevant stakeholders as well as their concerns and needs can frequently change throughout the planning, permitting and construction process of new power lines. Thus, a differentiated stakeholder analysis (deliverable D2.1) is essential in order to reach a comprehensive understanding of the situation, to identify possible conflicts, to monitor developments and changes, and to support developing tailored solutions. Therefore, the present website shows the outcome of a detailed stakeholder analysis (see picture) and provides a general view of concerns and needs within the context of the grid extension as well as the possibility to compare concerns and needs of various stakeholders. The stakeholder map is not meant to be static or a sufficient collection but a first approach of giving a broader picture of the situation – and of course, this picture can change and/or should be further developed. We would like to invite you to send us your comments and remarks for adding or changing groups, concerns and needs
Decision tree for tools selection and dynamic model for stakeholder engagementIn accordance to abovementioned analysis of stakeholders concerns and needs, once the mapping is completed and issues to be discussed are identified, the next task for TSO’s project managers and responsible bodies (like governmental agencies) is to engage stakeholders into the decision-making process in an appropriate way.Stakeholders’ engagement is one of the crucial points of the development of new power lines. It brings substantial benefits for the project and to affected community, like: improvement of democratic decision-making processes, increase of confidence-trust, contribution to public accountability, promotion of solidarity, elicitation of different perspectives, values, interests and co-production of knowledge. However, one must take into account that it should not be a tool of legitimation of decisions and it may create difficulties to reach a compromise on the final decision (for a detailed description of benefits and limits of participation process see deliverable D3.2). Poor engagement affects not only stakeholders but influences negatively also the TSO or government agency charged with managing the project development process.
Therefore it is important to choose and implement appropriate tools, which enable sufficient stakeholders’ engagement. The deliverable 5.2 proposes a set of preliminary guidelines for engaging stakeholders in electricity transmission development projects. It also introduces useful models, which should help in selection of appropriate tools and ways of involving stakeholders. Both models are first attempt to structure the tools used for the participatory process and will be developed and improved with outcomes of the INSPIRE-Grid project.
Web-GIS for stakeholders engagementGeographical Information Systems (GIS) are a fundamental tool for the study and assessment of spatial relationships and are commonly used in spatial planning and environmental impact assessment. A GIS processes spatial data (entities with spatial properties such as rivers, roads, buildings etc.), stored on spatial databases, and allows the user to understand spatial relationships and possible interactions among elements placed in a specific area; elements can be, for instance, the proposal of a new infrastructure, populated areas, important landmarks, land contours, existing infrastructures, and so on.
A web-GIS is an application that enables the visualization of geographically referenced data through a web interface available online. Web-GIS is used to disseminate spatial information and the results of elaborations towards stakeholders and, in general, the interested public. It does not require any knowledge in geographical data analysis; a web browser and a working internet connection are all that is required and users are allowed to build their preferred visualisation and to access easily relevant information. Therefore, web-GIS can be an effective tool to be used to promote public engagement in the development of the grid, entering in support to participatory processes in different phases and with different possibilities of practical implementation and application.The deliverable 4.4 analyses in details the possible uses and the potentialities of Web-GIS tools within the stakeholders engagement process.
The links reported here below refer to the main Web-GIS tools developed in the framework of the INSPIRE-Grid project for the implementation of public engagement, especially for the project case studies.