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TransnetBW, TenneT to build Germany’s longest power line

Network operators TenneT and TransnetBW have teamed up to build Germany’s longest power line to transport surplus wind power from northern regions into the south, a key step in the country’s effort to move away from nuclear power.

In a joint statement, the companies said the 800 kilometre power line, dubbed SUED.LINK, would be completed by 2022, the year when Germany will have completed its exit from nuclear power.

SUED.LINK is one of four planned high-voltage power lines running from north to south to support Germany’s 550-billion euro ($758 billion) energy shift away from nuclear energy.

It will cost a low single-digit billion euro amount, a spokeswoman for TenneT said.

“The power line is particularly important to those of us here in the south of Germany,” said Rainer Joswig, chief executive of TransnetBW, owned by German utility EnBW.

“It will secure the energy supply to the region in times when an increasing amount of assured power generation from coal or nuclear power plants will be decommissioned,” he said.

Germany’s energy regulator has received applications to shut down 28 power plant units with the capacity of about seven nuclear plants, its president said in a newspaper interview published earlier on Thursday.

The country’s utilities are hit by plunging wholesale power prices and a boom in solar and wind energy capacity, taking priority when being fed into the grid and reducing the hours conventional power plants can run.

The direct current extra high-voltage line will transport wind power from the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein into the high-consumption areas of southern states Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to German blue chips such as BMW , Siemens, Daimler and SAP .

Planned as a joint venture, SUED.LINK consists of two north-south connections, the German unit of Dutch state-owned grid operator TenneT and TransnetBW said in a joint statement.

Earlier this year, network operator Amprion said it aimed to seek planning permission this year for Germany’s first direct current power line, which could carry electricity long distances without losing much of it, and begin using the link by 2019. ($1 = 0.7256 euros) (Reporting by Christoph Steitz; editing by James Jukwey)