Sustainability Report 2017

Dialogue with Stakeholders

We are enabling a successful energy transition for a sustainable world – this is our vision. 50Hertz, as a transmission system operator, is aware of its social responsibility regarding this demanding and inter-generational collaborative project.

Engaging is an open dialogue with all our stakeholders is an integral part of our communication. We are involved in numerous cultural, sports as well as nature and species conservation projects in the grid area and support social initiatives in partnership. In doing so, the well-being and promotion of children and young people lies close to our heart. We also cooperate closely with partners from business and science as well as NGOs.

In order to implement our many social activities, we have established clear management and organisational structures at 50Hertz. The responsibility for our commitment lies with the communications and public affairs department. In consultation with the Board of Management, the department defines the objectives, coordinates the activities and reviews requests for projects worthy of support. The internal policy on donations and sponsorship sets out our general funding principles, the evaluation criteria and the organisational process in a manner that is transparent, uniform and binding for all employees. In the allocation of donations and support through sponsorship, we always ensure that this is in accordance with our corporate values, designed for the long term and that it offers real added value for people and society.

Early Stakeholder Engagement

In order to successfully implement the energy transition, the high voltage grids have to be further developed. The involvement of relevant stakeholders plays a special role in these demanding infrastructure projects. In the regions where existing capacities are strengthened or new substations and lines are built, the information and participation needs of the citizens and special interest groups are huge. 50Hertz engages in this dialogue very openly and transparently: We involve the public at an early stage, thus improving the projects and laying the foundations for maximum acceptance of our projects. We begin the dialogue with our stakeholder groups in very early planning stages of our projects. This includes both consultation on the grid development plan as well as grid enhancement and expansion projects. In concrete terms, we shape the dialogue, inter alia, using the following options: Info markets, district conferences, planning forums, specialist workshops, thematic brochures, hotlines for citizens’ question or with our DialogMobil. In 2017, this mobile citizens’ office was awarded the “Good Practice of the Year Award” by the “Renewables Grid Initiative” (RGI). In addition, project-related internal policies regulate time sequences and the interplay of project planning, approvals, public participation and stakeholder management.

Eva Schulze beim Infomarkt Berlin Tiergarten im Gespräch mit einer Anwohnerin Information market in Berlin Tiergarten: Eva Schulze from the nature conservation and approvals department in conversation with a local resident.
We use the knowledge and information gained in this proactive dialogue and the information events with as many affected stakeholders as possible in a comprehensible manner in the preparation of our line routes. Our dialogues are based on clearly defined specifications and are recorded in specified formats with the help of a standardised “tool box”. 50Hertz involves all communities affected by the expansion of the grid and potential neighbouring landowners in planning before the approval procedures begin. This approach was developed together with leading community associations in a position paper published in 2015.

The challenges of the energy transition are very complex. We do not rely on our gut feeling, with good reason, regarding who we talk to and when about our projects and how we approach our cooperation partners. In an indicator-based monitoring and assessment system, we measure the quality and effectiveness of public participation at 50Hertz according to time, transparency, relationship and potential influence. Thus, we determine what needs to be discussed and can therefore approach our stakeholder groups as early as possible, in a topic-oriented and open manner. We are convinced that: The more open and comprehensive we involve politics, society, our cooperation partners, stakeholder groups and interested citizens in our infrastructure projects, the higher the acceptance of our projects.

Stakeholder Dialogues in the 50Hertz Grid Neighbourhood

In 2017, we invited more than 80 government and association representatives, environmental experts, infrastructure planners, approval experts and legal experts to the specialist conference, “Vogelschutz an Höchstspannungsfreileitungen – Methoden, Spielräume und Realisierbarkeit” (Protection of birds on high voltage overhead lines – Methods, scope and feasibility). The aim was to exchange views on how we can meet the requirements for the protection of birds, without jeopardising our energy transition projects.

In addition, in 2017 at over 70 events we informed national and international stakeholders from politics, business, education and associations as well as from the energy sector of how we are approaching the challenges of the energy transition and securely integrating over 50 percent renewable energy into the electrical system. In particular, international groups from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, India, Canada, Kuwait, Madagascar, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Singapore, Taiwan and the US gained insights into the successful integration of renewable energies.

With 180 industry experts and representatives from science, politics and administration, at our 10th System Security Conference we discussed, among other things, the challenges of the European Winter Package (Clean Energy for all Europeans Package), conditions for accessing the grid for the European power exchange, handling critical grid situations and, last but not least, the details of the data exchange.

With the regular “Ländertreff Netze Nordost” event series, two to three times a year, 50Hertz provides and perpetuates contacts to and between the representatives of the executive branch of the federal states. The meeting calls for a regular, joint exchange on energy policy issues. At the federal level, in 2017 50Hertz established the “Energy Lunch” in its new headquarters. In this discussion format, experts from 50Hertz meet experts and representatives of the Parliament, the Government, associations and NGOs several times a year to discuss current challenges in the integration of renewable energies, grid expansion and system management.

In 2017, about 40 experts from 20 different banks and financial institutions came to Berlin for what was already the sixth time for the 50Hertz “Banker’s Day”. It was about sustainable financing options – for example for offshore projects.

The dialogue with our suppliers and third party contractors who are working with us to shape the energy transition is getting more and more important. At the 50Hertz Suppliers’ Day in autumn 2017, we sensitised our business partners to our demanding quality targets in realising our projects on time and within budget, and on maintaining our high occupational safety and health protection standards. This is an important aspect for us in order to minimise the risks in our business activities.