Experts/Academia

Stakeholder role in grid projects: 

Experts, especially scholars at research institutions such as universities or independent research units, should play an important role in grid projects as they can bring in a substantiated, independent position on several aspects of grid projects. They are often seen as a trustworthy source of information, which makes them particularly helpful in providing an expert view on some of the most debated issues surrounding grid projects (e.g. the health impacts of power line construction, the ecological impact of a project or the economic effects of grid development). 

Experts and academics can also provide expertise to TSOs, for example by providing input on key environmental and biodiversity issues, providing technical expertise with regards to project construction, evaluating ways to best meet energy demands or assessing health risks. 

As with NGOs, different experts, depending on their field of specialisation (e.g. energy, environmental issues / biodiversity, economics, health, etc.), may be differently predisposed towards a project. However, experts may tend to take a more academic, rather than activist, approach to arguing their vision. Experts and academics will usually base their arguments on research and scientific or other facts.

In the context of a grid project, it is important to distinguish between independent researchers and expert consultants hired by TSOs during a project. While the two types of experts may have comparable knowledge on the subject, consultants compensated by TSOs are likely to not be perceived as independent sources by the general public.

Even in the case of experts not associated with a TSO, those who provide views in support of grid projects may run the risk of raising questions about their independence. It may therefore be advisable to clearly establish an expert’s or academic’s independence – if this is indeed the case – in order to boost credibility.

 

Primary concern with grid projects: 
Topography within stakeholder group: 
Usual patterns: 

Experts may be found in a variety of institutions, such as universities, research centres, think tanks, consultancies and inter-governmental organisations (e.g. IEA, OECD, UNEP, etc.). 

To determine their potential role in grid projects, they should also be distinguished based on their fields of study and expertise, e.g. health issues or economic impact related to grid projects.

 

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Which the institutions have proven to be able to provide credible expertise? 

  • Which expertise is needed for the specific grid project?

Individuals within stakeholder organisations/entities: 
Project stage for engagement: 
Usual patterns: 

In this project stage experts should provide input during the drafting of grid development plans and participate in the debate between the different stakeholders. Depending on their expertise they can, for example, provide input on how to best address energy needs, how to reduce health impacts or how to best involve local stakeholders. 

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Which experts should be contacted in this phase of the project? 

  • In which issues would the experts’ recommendations be most useful?

  • How should they be contacted and how could they be involved in the project?

Usual patterns: 

Experts could potentially provide input regarding specific issues at the Project preparation stage.

Some of the key project decisions must be prepared in this stage, so the input of experts on different technical, health and environmental issues can be rewarding and can lay the foundations for better performance along the following phases.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Which reports should be produced to better identify potential future difficulties? 

  • Are any environmental assessment documents to be produced during this stage and could they benefit from expert inputs?

Usual patterns: 

At these typically highly contested stages, experts’ inputs can, for example, helpful for defining optimal corridor routes by assessing potential environmental issues and contributing to environmental assessment documents. Furthermore, experts could propose ideas of environmental compensation or mitigation measures.

Experts can also be solicited by the TSO to provide an independent opinion on technical project details or health impacts of power lines, and to present their opinion to the general public during consultations or other public meetings, or simply in written form.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • What information could experts bring to the table to best contribute to route and Spatial planning? 

  • Could regional experts be identified in order to bring inputs about specific stretches of the route?

  • Could the project benefit from an expert opinion on a particular topic of public concern?

Usual patterns: 

During this stage experts can provide advice on technical issues appearing during construction. They can, for example, take the role of an independent observer of whether the entity responsible for executing the construction adheres to all previously fixed agreements and standards. 

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Can an independent expert committee be established to monitor the grid line’s construction?

Adequate communication channels for participation/cooperation: 
Adequate communication formats for participation/cooperation: