Amprion develops rotating asynchronous phase shifter

27.03.2020

When conventional power generation declines, additional technical measures are needed to ensure the stability of the electricity grids. The energy transition in Germany is prompting the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) to take compensatory measures to keep the grid voltage at the required level. An essential factor in maintaining voltage is reactive power, and TSOs respond to changes in the energy landscape by installing reactive power systems to compensate for the loss of reactive power previously provided by conventional power plants. Reactive power is particularly required for the AC transmission of large amounts of energy over long distances. This is likely to be a common practice in the energy future of Germany.

The German TSO Amprion and Siemens Energy plan to develop and install the world’s first rotating asynchronous phase shifter with a high output of approx. 300MVA. The innovative device is called ARESS: Asynchronous Rotating Energy System Stabilizer. It represents a new and fully integrated technology. In contrast to synchronous phase shifters, ARESS supplies far more rotation energy, especially when providing momentary reserve, and also over a longer period of time. The extremely responsive and powerful electrical equipment thus significantly contributes to frequency stability. ARESS is intended to complement and further develop the Statcom (static synchronous compensator) systems and synchronous phase shifters that are currently in use.

The ARESS project was launched on 26 March with the signing of an agreement by Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO of Amprion, and Dr. Jochen Eickholt, managing director and designated executive board member of Siemens Energy. Due to the Corona pandemic, the documents were signed via video conference. The technology partners are convinced that the ARESS technology can be designed much more cost-effectively and compactly than combinations of available technologies in the same scope of application. Amprion and Siemens Energy expect the project to run for four years until the pilot system can be put into operation.

Amprion and Siemens Energy are developing the rotating asynchronous phase shifter ARESS to provide reactive power (exemplary image of a rotating phase shifter: Siemens)

Linkup
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

Construction of ULTRANET substation approved

27.03.2020

The Philippsburg nuclear power plant in the German state of Baden-Württemberg was shut down completely on 31 December 2019. On the power plant site, TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the Transmission System Operator (TSO) from the southwest of Germany, is planning a new DC substation with a required area of around 100,000m². The substation is to become one of the most important energy hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape, as the supra-regional high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line ULTRANET will be connected here to the regional 380kV AC grid.

After intensive planning, TransnetBW submitted the application for construction permit to the competent district administration for examination in June 2018. The Landratsamt Karlsruhe has now approved the plans of the TSO. “The DC substation plays a central role in integrating renewable energies into the transmission grid,” explains Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “In the future, renewable electricity will flow from the Philippsburg site to the entire region. We are thus laying a cornerstone for supply security in a future without nuclear power and coal.”

ULTRANET, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), is jointly implemented by TransnetBW and the further TSCNET shareholder Amprion. It will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of Germany to the industrially highly developed southwest. The Philippsburg substation represents the southern end point of ULTRANET. Here, the DC transmitted via ULTRANET to Philippsburg is converted into AC and distributed throughout the region. Vice-versa, the substation allows the conversion of AC into DC, e.g. to transport surplus photovoltaic power from the south to the north.

TransnetBW has received official approval for the construction of the ULTRANET substation in Philippsburg (architectural sketch of the substation: Codema International GmbH / TransnetBW)

Linkup
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

Interview: “Consumption drop considered”

27.03.2020

The current decline in Europe-wide electricity consumption is significant and requires both European transmission system operators (TSOs) and Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) to adapt to the lower feed-in rates. “In general, it is expected that the demand for electricity in 2020 will decrease noticeably due to the corona crisis. Some EU member states expect a drop of 10 to 15 percent of annual electricity demand,” explains Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based RSC in an interview with “ZfK” (Zeitung für Kommunale Wirtschaft), one of Germany’s leading trade journals of the energy and utility industry.

As regards the reaction of energy market participants, Neubauer comments that this decline is being considered in grid management and included in the daily forecasting processes by the TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs). Neubauer sees no threat to supply security: “All suppliers and operators of power plants and critical infrastructures have emergency plans.” These are implemented immediately to ensure the operability of the infrastructures. A favourable factor is that there are currently no external influences, such as natural disasters or critical grid situations, to interfere with operational processes. “The main focus is currently on protecting the operational personnel in order to ensure 24/7 operation of the critical infrastructure levels.”

Needless to say, this also applies to TSCNET Services itself. Although the European RSCs do not have direct grid control responsibility, they do carry out the regional analysis of the transmission system together with the TSOs and act as an early warning system, which identifies possible bottlenecks and dangerous situations. Together with the TSO control centres, the RSC then initiates mitigation measures. To continue providing 24/7 support to TSOs, TSCNET has taken all actions to protect its staff from the pandemic. This includes sending almost all employees to work from home and special protective measures for the operations team. Since almost all TSCNET processes are already highly digitised, the current situation does not present the Munich RSC with extreme challenges.

Despite the pandemic-related decline in power consumption, Maik Neubauer expects no fundamental problems for grid security

Linkup
> Visit “ZfK” interview, in German (html, paywall)

See article on single page

Paper on MRC extension

26.03.2020

The so-called 4M Market Coupling Countries (4M MC) – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia – are to be connected to the Europe-wide Multi Regional Coupling (MRC) of the electricity market. This will introduce Single Day-Ahead Coupling across 23 European countries. The initiative to implement the MRC expansion is the DE-AT-PL-4M MC Project, also known as “Interim Coupling Project”. The relevant transmission system operators (TSOs) from Austria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – the TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, APG, ČEPS, MAVIR, PSE, SEPS, TenneT, and Transelectrica – are part of the project consortium.

The AT-PL-4M MC Project establishes implicit capacity allocation based on Net Transfer Capacity (NTC) at six borders (PL-DE, PL-CZ, PL-SK, CZ-DE, CZ-AT, HU-AT). The Nominated Electricity Market Operators (NEMOs) and TSOs participating in the DE-AT-PL-4M MC Project now have published an information paper for market participants containing key information on the project in a question and answer format. This information includes the main expected changes for the market, the planned communication methods with market participants and a high-level technical description of the market design to be implemented by the project.

The partners of the AT-PL-4M MC Project for integrating Czechia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia into MRC have published an information paper

Linkup
> Open AT-PL-4M MC information paper provided by MAVIR (pdf, 732.98kB)

See article on single page

Corona cuts consumption

26.03.2020

Electricity consumption in Europe has fallen significantly because of the restrictions imposed by the corona crisis. In particular, the drastic reduction in industrial production is likely to have a significant impact. The London-based think tank Ember has calculated that demand in the entire EU has fallen by 2 to 7% in the last week compared to the previous week. The analysts at Ember used data on electricity demand provided by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), adjusted for the weather-related factor.

A survey of 22 individual countries shows that Italy, France, and Spain are the most affected countries. In these countries, the decline in demand was twice as strong as in other countries. In Italy, which is currently most afflicted by the corona pandemic, electricity consumption fell by 20% within two weeks. TSCNET shareholder APG, the transmission system operator (TSO) from Austria, also reports that consumption data in some specific Austrian grid areas are 10 to 20% below the previous year’s figures. The national average is 10%, which according to Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG, reflects the pan-European development.

Like all European TSOs, APG is confronted with major challenges, but considers that it is well prepared for the crisis, both technically and in terms of personnel. Of course, each individual TSO has to adapt its operations and measures to the conditions under the pandemic. TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish TSO, for instance, has introduced special guidelines to avoid physical contact on its construction sites. Notwithstanding that a functioning transmission system is essential for modern life at all times, Henrik Riis, CEO of Electricity Transmission at Energinet, calls it “an important social task to keep the wheels turning and do our part to support the Danish economy.” However, this task is performed with all due care: “We take the risk on spreading of infectious disease very seriously.”

While the specialists from the TSOs and from TSCNET Services are on duty around the clock, many shops and production sites in Europe have to remain closed due to the corona pandemic

Linkup
> See Ember research on reduced electricity demand (html)
> See APG news release, in German (html)
> See Energinet news release (html)

See article on single page

New Rhône Valley power line operational in 2022

24.03.2020

In early 2018, TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO), began preparations for the construction of the new 380kV line in the Rhône Valley between the two substations Chamoson and Chippis, which is to replace the old 220kV line. This new line is of crucial importance for Switzerland’s security of supply, particularly for the transmission of electricity generated in the Valais hydroelectric power plants to the consumption centres in the central Swiss Plateau.

After about 18 months of actual construction, the extra-high voltage line is now taking shape and work is underway along its entire length. But not only do numerous safety measures have to be considered during construction, also the access to some plots of land has not yet been clarified at some pylon sites. These locations are distributed along the entire route of the line. As a decision by the responsible federal authorities is still pending in some cases, Swissgrid has now reviewed the construction plans and postponed commissioning of the new line until summer 2022. As the Federal Evaluation Commission (“Eidgenössische Schätzungskommission”) has given priority to the TSO’s applications, Swissgrid is confident about the further construction of the line.

Swissgrid expects the new 380kV line from Chamoson to Chippis to be commissioned in summer 2022 (picture: Swissgrid)

Linkup
> See Swissgrid news release, in German (html)

See article on single page

Supporting secure power supply despite corona crisis

20.03.2020

For weeks, the world has been watching with great concern the news about the novel coronavirus and the disease COVID-19. Together with the electricity transmission system operators (TSOs) we are ensuring the secure operation of the electricity transmission infrastructure in Europe and are taking the situation with great seriousness. Therefore, we have taken a number of preventive measures to protect employees and visitors from infection with the virus, while at the same time ensuring that all key areas of our business and system operations remain fully operational.

These precautionary measures are reassessed daily and, if necessary, expanded and supplemented. In addition to measures to protect health, these include precautions that severely restrict contact between employees and with other groups of people, as well as additional measures that restrict access to our offices in Munich. Special precautions apply to employees in particularly sensitive areas such as our Regional Coordination Room.

As with any infectious disease, everyone benefits if individuals take precautions. We therefore appeal to all employees and partners to protect themselves and others. If you have any questions or need help, please do not hesitate to contact us.

In operation around the clock! In view of the situation with the novel coronavirus, the management of TSCNET Services has decided to take a number of precautions.

Linkup
> Visit WHO coronavirus pages (html)
> Visit European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control pages (html)
> Visit Robert Koch Institute on situation in Germany, in German (html)

See article on single page

Borssele Beta platform topside ready for sail out

20.03.2020

In the Borssele offshore wind farm area in the south-western part of the Dutch North Sea, Borssele Alpha, the first and largest connection system for wind farms from the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT in Dutch territorial waters, is already in operation. Now the TSCNET shareholder is in the process of installing Borssele Beta to connect further wind farms, in this case Borssele III and IV that are still under construction. The topside of the offshore transformer platform for Borssele Beta is now ready for shipping. It was built at the construction yard of the offshore platform specialist HSM Offshore in Schiedam in the Rotterdam-The Hague metropolitan area and will be put to sea on 22 March 2020.

When the pontoon carrying the 3,650-tonne superstructure arrives at its destination, a crane vessel will place the top side on the platform substructure (jacket). The top side comprises three interior levels and an outer deck. It is 25 metres high, 58 metres long and 32 metres wide. The Borssele Beta grid connection will have a capacity of 700MW and is scheduled to be commissioned on 1 September 2020. The Borssele III, IV, and V wind farms, which are located about 22km from the coast, will be connected to this transmission system. Borssele V by the Two Towers consortium has been designated as an innovation site within the wind farm zone and will be connected to Borssele Beta. The electricity generated by these offshore wind farms will then be transported ashore via two 67-kilometre-long cables to the high-voltage transformer station near the town of Borssele in the Dutch province of Zeeland.

Marco Kuijpers, Director Offshore Projects a TenneT, comments on the TSO’s progress in offshore expansion: “With this platform, the offshore grid that TenneT is building in the Dutch North Sea is definitively taking shape. Borssele Beta is the second offshore grid connection built by TenneT. Over the coming eight years we will build a new offshore connection every year. I am proud that we are able to make such a significant contribution to the energy transition in which offshore wind energy plays a crucial role.”

TenneT also assumes a marine ecological responsibility and makes its offshore platforms available for other uses. The TSO cooperates in this respect with the Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat). The Borssele Beta offshore platform therefore also features a Maritime Information Provision Service Point (MIVSP). This is a monitoring station with various monitoring systems, such as nautical radars, meteorological systems and ecological monitoring systems. Similar stations are being installed on every TenneT offshore transformer platform.

The topside of the offshore transformer platform Borssele Beta of TenneT is constructed and ready for shipping (picture: HSM Offshore)

Linkup
> See TenneT press release (html)

See article on single page

Grid and supply security in times of COVID-19

16.03.2020

Transmission system operators (TSOs) are managing an integral part of our society’s systemically relevant critical infrastructure, which must be maintained under all circumstances. In the current global health crisis, the TSCNET shareholders, like all other TSOs, are aware of their specific responsibility for the security of European electricity supply, which is a matter of preserving social and economic life. The TSOs are focusing on their core business: secure electricity supply, and have taken technical precautions, especially in sensitive areas such as the control centres. But of course, hygienic and social measures are also adopted with regard to the safety of their customers, business partners and employees.

As far as the TSO’s own employees are concerned, as many colleagues as possible are sent to work from home. For a large number of technical staff, e.g. in the areas of monitoring, maintenance or repair, this is obviously only possible to a limited extent. The four German TSOs for example have taken a number of precautionary measures. These include in particular:

  • Strict rules regarding business trips and contact with other persons.
  • Special requirements apply to the staff in the control rooms and in the technical teams which are absolutely necessary for the maintenance of the grid. Generally speaking, the control rooms are equipped for all emergencies, far beyond the current threat from the corona virus.
  • The precautionary measures taken are checked daily and adjusted to the current situation if necessary.
  • The individual TSOs also adapt their measures in accordance with the rules and regulations applicable in their respective grid areas.

To play an active role in the containment of COVID-19, the TSOs also respond with such understandable measures as access restrictions or the cancellations of meetings and public information events. Instead, the companies are opting for online conferences. 50Hertz, for example, one of the four German TSOs, is introducing an online participation system as a replacement for the cancelled information events for example on the transregional SuedOstLink power line so that citizens can be continuously involved in the planning process.

The European TSOs contribute actively and responsibly to the containment of SARS-CoV-2 without compromising system security (electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2: NIAID, CC BY 2.0)

Linkup
> 50Hertz, in German (html)
> APG, in German (html)
> Energinet, (html)
> TenneT Germany press release, in German (html, published on 17 March)
> TransnetBW, in German (html)

See article on single page

TenneT creates, invests and researches for the energy future

12.03.2020

Promoting the energy transition is a priority objective of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). This is clearly reflected in the TSO’s just-published Integrated Annual Report. As in recent years, the Annual Report is accompanied by the Green Finance Report 2019.

In line with the energy policy and climate goals of the Netherlands and Germany, TenneT increased its investments yet again in 2019 and spent €3.1bn on the energy transition and supply security (grid availability of 99.9998% in 2019). This financial commitment is even to be stepped up: TenneT is planning annual investments of €4bn to €5bn for the future. The financial performance of the company, with revenues of €4.1bn in 2019 and an EBIT (excluding special effects) of €753m, supports these ambitious plans. Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, has every reason to be content with the sound development of the TSO: “We have made great strides again in pursuing our ambition to achieve a sustainable energy future for everyone. Not only in realising and developing new onshore and offshore connections, but also by the required far-reaching international cooperation and working on innovations in close coordination with relevant stakeholders.”

As regards offshore connections, TenneT has already exceeded in 2019 the German government’s expansion target for offshore wind power capacity in the North and Baltic Sea, which is 6.5GW for 2020. With last year’s commissioning of BorWin 3, TenneT’s ninth offshore grid connection system in DC technology, the TSO now has a total of twelve offshore grid connections in operation (nine in DC and three in AC technology) with a total capacity of 7.1GW. But TenneT is not resting on its successes to date: The connection systems DolWin5, DolWin6, and BorWin5 are being developed and will increase the offshore transmission capacity provided by TenneT for wind farms in the German North Sea to almost 10GW by 2025. In addition, Borssele Alpha, TenneT’s first offshore connection system in AC technology in the Dutch North Sea, was installed on schedule and is now ready for operation. Borssele Beta will be completed in 2020.

Onshore, TenneT has eight transmission lines under construction in Germany, more than ever before. In the Netherlands, the 60km-long Randstad 380kV North Ring power line was put into operation, reliably supplying Europe’s most densely populated area with electricity and providing transmission capacity for green energy. At European level, the “green” COBRAcable deserves special mention, which since 2019 directly connects the Dutch and Danish markets for the first time. The German and Norwegian markets will also be directly connected by the NordLink cable, which is currently under construction. On top of this, a proof-of-concept for the North Sea Wind Power Hub has shown the technical feasibility of the concept of multiple wind power distribution hubs in the North Sea.

All these grid expansion projects are complemented by innovative solutions and intensive research to better utilise TenneT’s existing transmission system. These include vehicle-to-grid pilots, the deployment of home storage systems in grid stabilisation and digital solutions for higher grid utilisation. Another long-term innovation project is Element One, a 100MW electrolysis plant to be built in Germany to promote an integrated energy system.

TenneT presents Integrated Annual Report 2019 and Green Finance Report 2019 (picture: TenneT)

Linkup
> See TenneT press release (html)
> Visit Integrated Annual Report 2019 site (html)
> Direct access to the report download (html)
> Open Green Finance Report 2019 (pdf, 802.38kB)

See article on single page