Under § 17a (1) Federal Energy Act (EnWG) the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie - BSH) was given the legal task to issue and annually update a Spatial Offshore Grid Plan for the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The plan is being developed in consent with the Federal Network
Agency (Bundesnetzagentur - BNetzA) and in consultation with the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz - BfN) and the coastal states ("Länder"). Its aim is to ensure coordinated and consistent spatial planning of grid infrastructure and grid topology, particularly for the grid connections of offshore wind farms in the German EEZ of the North and Baltic Sea up to the 12 nautical mile border of the territorial waters.
Pursuant to § 17a Federal Energy Act, the scope of the Spatial Offshore Grid Plan covers
- the identification of offshore wind farms suitable for collective grid connections,
- spatial routing for subsea cables required to connect offshore wind farms,
- sites for converter platforms or transformer substations,
- a description of potential cross connections between grid infrastructures and
- standardised technical rules and planning principles.
The Spatial Offshore Grid Plan takes a sectoral planning approach and is closely linked to the Maritime Spatial Plan for the German EEZ in the North and Baltic Sea. The coordination with other spatially significant types of planning and measures as well as an examination of reasonable alternatives to subsea
cable routes, corridors or sites is given serious consideration.
When drawing up the Spatial Offshore Grid Plan, an extensive Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is carried out in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Act. The SEA report as a result of the environmental assessment focuses on the description and assessment of significant effects on the marine environment likely to arise from the implementation of the plan.
The Spatial Offshore Grid Plan does not affect third parties and is not independently voidable. The plan is binding for approval procedures in accordance with the provisions of the Marine Facilities Ordinance.
The Spatial Offshore Grid Plan is compiled separately for the German EEZ of the North and Baltic Sea. The grid plan for the German EEZ in the North Sea has been issued in February 2013 after two national and international consultations and can be downloaded below.