Landscape and power grids

Project title: Development of an evaluation model for landscape character in relation to the expansion of the grid


  • What negative impacts does the expansion of the electricity grid have on the landscape?
  • How can landscape and scenery be evaluated?
  • Comparison of the results with the current legal position
  • What are the consequences for planning?


Nuertingen-Geislingen University (NGU)
Institute for Landscape and Environment (ILU)
Schelmenwasen 4-8, 72622 Nürtingen
Prof. Dr. Michael Roth
Tel.: +49 7022 201181


FKZ 3515 82 2800
Departmental Research Plan 2015
Term: 01.09.2015 – 30.09.2017

The conversion of our energy systems involves new requirements for power distribution. When planning the expansion of the grid it is necessary to record and evaluate the negative effects on the landscape at a national level. This project is developing a method to do this.

The research project develops a nature conservation method to improve the evaluation and optimisation of corridor routing for overhead power lines. This takes account of the criteria of diversity, distinctiveness and beauty of the landscape prescribed in the Federal Nature Conservation Act (Bundesnaturschutzgesetz) as well as its recreational value.


The methodological approaches in the project aim to link to the state of the art in theory and practice. Existing methods for assessing the landscape and its recreational function were therefore examined in terms of their transferability and applicability to national level. This was based on the psychological and phenomenological definition of landscape following Nohl (2001). The evaluation of landscape quality and recreational function is based on GIS modelling, and calibrated and validated using reference assessments. The empirical surveys for this are carried out via an online questionnaire of a random sample of the population and by involving specialists in expert workshops. The assessment method developed in this way is then applied in the project across the whole of Germany.

The results present maps of the diversity, distinctiveness and beauty of the landscape for the whole country. A distinction is made between particularly valuable landscapes which are therefore worth conserving and those of an average or lower quality.

The evaluation model for the recreational function of the landscape is based on supply and demand. It is developed in parallel with the landscape evaluation approach and the results compared. This method should highlight those areas where the landscape has an important impact on the recreation potential.

Lastly, these methods will be used to assess how the landscape and the recreational function of a landscape are negatively affected by power lines and underground cables. The determining factors that negatively impact the recreational characteristic of the landscape will be identified and presented. This can provide a concept for identifying the conflict potential of expanding the grid and landscape, and applied using sample regions.

As part of the results, guidelines for implementation will be formulated for the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for the Federal Requirements Plan (Bundesbedarfsplan, BBP) and for federal sectoral planning.


Roth, M.; Hildebrandt, S.; Roser, F.; Schwarz-von Raumer, H.-G.; Borsdorff, M.; Peters, W.; Weingarten, E.; Thylmann, M; Bruns, E.: Entwicklung eines Bewertungsmodells zum Landschaftsbild beim Stromnetzausbau. Bonn-Bad Godesberg, 2021, BfN-Skripten 597


The energy transition in Germany does require massive expansion of the national high-voltage transmission grid, because of an overproduction of wind energy in the north and a huge power demand in the south, which is rich in population and industry. The national development plan for the grid expansion requires a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which also addresses the environmental compartment of landscape. Analysis and assessment of the SEA should be based on reliable and valid data, produced with a consistent methodology, and based on data meeting a common standard. So far such data do not exist for visual landscape quality on a national level. The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation started a project to provide an empirically-based nationwide scenic quality assessment that can be used to include landscape quality into the weighing process in SEA for national planning procedures.

The scenic quality assessment criteria of visual diversity, landscape character and scenic beauty, as mentioned in the Federal Nature Conservation Act are separately modelled and assessed in this research project.

Geoinformation systems and statistical analyses are used to develop nationwide assessment models, which are calibrated and validated with the help of user-rated landscape photographs. A photo documentation was made in 30 sample areas in Germany, each with extent size of about 150 km². The documentation does represent the variety of German landscapes, from coastal areas in the north to the Alps in the south of Germany, with forest areas, rural areas and built-up areas. An expert based selection of over 800 landscape photos is rated in an online survey with over 3,500 participants. The participants rated a random selection of photos in terms of the criteria visual diversity, landscape character and scenic beauty and recreational value on a 9-point rating scale.

The rated landscape photos were analyzed based on the occurring landscape components and -elements. For that purpose, over 80 indicators were identified in a literature research, which can be operationalized based on nationwide available and homogenous data (e.g. land use types, relief, structural diversity). The occurrence of each indicator on the visible area of each photo is determined. Based on this, linear regression assessment models were calculated, which explain the relation of the appearance of indicators as description for landscape structure (object side) and the photo ratings of the online survey (subject side). An assessment model has been calculated for each of the criteria (visual diversity, landscape character, scenic beauty and recreational value). In addition to the analyzed survey data and data on landscape structure the model for recreational value is based on touristic supply and demand data. The four models explain respectively 61 to 65 % of variance of the perceived landscape quality for the respectivecriteria. Integrating the data on visual diversity, landscape character and scenic beauty, we also developed a model of an aggregated visual landscape quality value. Each model is applied for the whole territory of Germany. This process results in visual landscape quality maps, showing nationwide assessments on a 9-level assessment scale using a resolution of 1 km x 1km.
Based on this landscape assessment models we developed a method for the assessment of conflict risk of visual landscape quality and recreational value against grid expansion projects and underground cables. To do so, the visual landscape quality or recreational value of an area has been aggregated with its vulnerability against grid infrastructure or underground cable. Finally the methods for the determination of conflict risk were applied to a test area exemplarily.


Work packages

Work packages

  1. Specifying and coordinating the methodological approach
  2. Requirements of the national landscape assessment from the perspective of network development planning and federal sectoral planning
  3. Assessing existing methods for large-scale evaluation of the landscape and for assessing the recreational function, including in terms of assessing the risk of conflict with electricity transmission routes
  4. Developing and applying a national evaluation model for landscape (diversity, distinctiveness and beauty)
  5. Developing and applying a national evaluation model for recreational function (supply and demand)
  6. Developing and applying a supra-regional model on the sensitivity of the landscape and recreational potential in the face of electricity transmission routes (power lines and underground cables) and evaluating the conflict risk
  7. Developing guidelines on the use of the results in grid development planning and federal sectoral planning
  8. Comparison with current statutory and sub-statutory regulations and developments (e.g. relationship to the impact mitigation regulation (Eingriffsregelung) and federal compensation regulation (Bundeskompensationsverordnung)
  9. Project coordination, networking and reporting system

Project partners

Project partners

Project management

Nuertingen-Geislingen University (NGU)
Institute for Landscape and Environment (ILU)
Schelmenwasen 4-8, 72622 Nürtingen
Prof. Dr. Michael Roth
Tel.: +49 7022 201181

Silvio Hildebrandt
Tel.: +49 3341 3563315

Sina Röhner
Tel.: +49 7022 201192

Project partners

University Stuttgart
Institute of Landscape Planning and Ecology (ILPÖ)
Keplerst. 11, 70174 Stuttgart
Dr. Frank Roser
Tel.: +49 711 685 83378

Dr. Hans-Georg Schwarz-von Raumer
Tel.: +49 711 685 84145

Milena Borsdorff

Bosch und Partner GmbH
Kantstr. 63 a, 10627 Berlin
Dr. Wolfgang Peters
Tel.: +49 30 609 88 44-61

Dr. Elke Weingarten
Tel.: +49 30 609 88 44-65

Institut für nachhaltige Energie- und Ressourcennutzung (INER)
Hochwildpfad 47, 14169 Berlin
Dr. Elke Bruns

Funding authority

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
FG II 4.3 Nature conservation and renewable energies
Alte Messe 6, 04103 Leipzig
Friedhelm Igel
Tel.: +49 341 30977 165


Recommend this page

Related Projects

Wir benutzen Cookies, um Ihnen die Inhalte und Funktionen der Website bestmöglich darzustellen. Zudem verwenden wir ein statistisches Analysetool, um zu verstehen, auf welche Weise unsere Seite genutzt wird, um entsprechende Verbesserungen daran vorzunehmen. Wenn Sie keine Cookies akzeptieren, können Sie diese in Ihrem Browser deaktivieren sowie einen Opt-Out-Cookie hinterlegen, um die Speicherung von Nutzungsdaten zu verhindern. Einen entsprechenden Link finden Sie in unserer Datenschutzerklärung. Sie können dann immer noch unsere Website besuchen, Ihre Sitzung wird jedoch nicht ausgewertet. Mehr Informationen und Möglichkeit zur Deaktivierung.