What is a hybrid line?

Two birds with one stone, or rather two types of electricity delivered using the same pylons. Hybrid lines are making this possible. This is how these superlines work and where they will first be used in Germany.

Illustration: Erneuerbare Energien, Stromnetz und Fabrikgebäude unter einer Lupe© BMWi

Hybrid lines make it possible to use the same pylons for direct and alternate current, which helps speed up the process of grid expansion.

Hybrid music players can play vinyl records and CDs. This eliminates the need for two separate devices and makes a DJ’s job so much easier. Hybrid lines are based around the same idea: having one infrastructure that can be used for two separate purposes. More specifically, one pylon is used for two types of powerlines: those for direct current and those alternate current. This reduces the need for new pylons and powerlnes to be built, thereby making the job of expanding the grid a lot easier.

It takes fairly little work to upgrade existing pylons that have so far only carried AC lines so they will soon be able to transport both types of electricity. DC powerlines are especially suited to transporting electricity over long distances, because little electricity gets lost with this technology. It is, however, more expensive than using AC powerlines, which is why these are the method of choice for shorter distances.

Germany’s first hybrid powerline will be used for the ‘Ultranet’ electricity highway

Whilst other countries are already using hybrid powerlines, Germany will first use it for its new ‘Ultranet’ electricity highway, which is to open in 2023 and and take electricity from Osterath, North Rhine-Westphalia, to Philippsburg, Baden-Württemberg. This project is to be coordinated with the ‘A Nord’ powerline project from Emden/Borßum to Osterath. Together they will ensure that wind power from Germany’s north is taken to the southwest, where there is a lot of industry requiring large amounts of electricity. In January this year, the federal sectoral planning procedure was successfully completed for the first leg of the project, connecting up Riedstadt and Mannheim-Wallstadt. The Bundesnetzagentur will soon decide about the exact placing of the routes for the next four sections of the project.

That said, many citizens living in the vicinity of the ‘Utranet’ project have strong reservations about the project and want a lot of questions answered.
This is one of the reasons why Minister Altmaier decided to visit the municipalities of Idstein and Niedernhausen as part of his grid expansion trip to Hesse. He wanted to talk to the people affected by the ‘Ultranet’ project directly and see what the problems are.

Accelerating the process of grid expansion: Draft legislation debated by the Bundestag

Meanwhile in the Bundestag, the debate on a revision of the Grid Expansion Acceleration Act has started. Peter Altmaier: "The revision aims to accelerate the procedures without lowering environmental standards – e.g. on the protection against electrical and magnetic fields. The public also continues to be involved comprehensively and at an early stage."

The public also has a stake in developing the 2019 national Network Development Plan up to 2030. The transmission network operators (TSOs) published an initial draft in February. A public consultation is now open until 4 March 2019. After that, the TSOs must submit their revised draft to the Bundesnetzagentur. Even after that, the public will still have a possibility to become involved, as the Bundesnetzagentur will hold another round of public consultations following its own appraisal of the draft. .