New Managing Director for TSCNET Services

29.09.2020

The Shareholders’ Meeting of TSCNET Services GmbH has appointed Dieter Weiß as Managing Director of TSCNET at the proposal of the nomination committee. Weiß completes the management team and will manage the company together with Uwe Zimmermann. The primary task is the upcoming further development of the current Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) for the 14 shareholders from among the European power transmission system operators into a European Regional Coordination Centre (RCC); this transformation is prescribed by the 4th European Single Market Package (Clean Energy Package, CEP). Weiß will be responsible for the areas of organisation and administration from 15 October.

Weiß (born in 1972) was Head of Finance & Governance at the Baden-Württemberg transmission system operator TransnetBW until 2016. Most recently, he was a member of the Management Board of the investment fund company YIELCO Investments AG. “Mr. Weiß is a proven financial expert who will contribute his expertise and experience to the further development of the company and shape the transformation process in the interests of the shareholders,” ex-plains Dr. Rainer Pflaum, Chief Financial Officer of TransnetBW, in his function as Chairman of the TSCNET Supervisory Board. Zdeslav Čerina, Chairman of the Shareholders’ Meeting agrees: “Mr. Weiß was able to convince us as shareholders with his professional and personal profile to be the right person for the future orientation of the company.

Weiß succeeds Maik Neubauer, who is leaving the company at the end of September when his contract expires after three successful years of continuous growth.

Dieter Weiß fills the position of one of two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services

Linkup
> Open TSCNET press release (pdf, 119kb)

See article on single page

€30m for secure electricity supply in East Tyrol

28.09.2020

Since autumn 2016, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG has been gradually renewing the 220kV switchgear at the Lienz substation in the eastern part of the Austrian state of Tyrol. The substation in Nußdorf-Debant near the medieval town of Lienz is of particular importance for the region’s electricity supply, as it is the only feed-in point from APG’s 380/220kV high-voltage grid for the whole of East Tyrol. For this reason, the TSCNET shareholder is pursuing an extensive investment programme of €30m for the substation to improve the electricity supply in East Tyrol and to enhance the integration of green electricity into the Austrian transmission grid.

The upgrade project also includes a new 380/220kV transformer. Due to its dimensions, it was transported by rail in three individual parts of 167 tonnes each from the Styrian Siemens plant in Weiz via an individual siding directly to the substation. Now the last part has arrived in Lienz and has been placed on its foundation. The total weight of the finished system is 816 tonnes. The state-of-the-art device will be operational from June 2021 and APG expects the upgrade of the entire substation to be completed in autumn 2022.

The Lienz transformer is of supra-regional relevance as it increases system security in all of Austria and also facilitates the country-wide use of climate-friendly wind energy. This is because the transformer strengthens the connection between the pumped storage power plants in the west of the country and the wind turbines in the east. With its investments, APG thus supports the national goal of covering 100% of the electricity consumption in Austria with green electricity by 2030. Company spokesperson Christoph Schuh comments: “All APG grid expansion, modernisation and maintenance projects are crucial for reaching Austria’s climate targets and indispensable cornerstones for guaranteeing the republic’s security of supply.”

APG is investing €30m in the upgrade of the Lienz substation in East Tyrol (picture: Michael Stabentheiner / APG)

Linkup
> See APG press release (html)

See article on single page

Network Agency decides on southern routing of SuedLink

25.09.2020

700 kilometres of underground cable to be laid and an investment volume of around €10bn – this makes the 525kV line SuedLink the largest and probably most important individual project of the energy transition in Germany. The exclusive use of underground cables in the project is politically specified to increase the acceptance of the project by the population: For only if one succeeds in effectively connecting the windy regions of northern Germany with the centres of consumption in the industrially highly developed south and west via such “electricity highways” as SuedLink, the German – and European – climate targets can be achieved.

SuedLink is jointly implemented by the two TSCNET shareholders TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and TransnetBW, the TSO from southwest Germany. The project is making step-by-step progress in the regulatory, planning, and implementation areas. This year, for example, regional planning offices have already been set up and the contracts for the cables awarded. Now the competent government authority, the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), has decided on the southern section between the Lower Franconian Arnstein near Schweinfurt and the Großgartach substation in the Stuttgart Metropolitan Region (SuedLink section E). This 137 kilometre long section runs through the control areas of both TSOs involved.

The Bundesnetzagentur’s decision largely follows the proposal by TenneT and TransnetBW, according to which the Würzburg metropolitan area is largely bypassed in the west. The proposal of the two TSOs had already incorporated the results of the application conferences and requirements of the Bundesnetzagentur. The last 16 kilometres to the Großgartach substation are a special construction feature. Here an existing salt mine is to be used for an underground course of the cable project. This increases construction costs, but these are outweighed by other benefits, in particular the reduced impact on the environment and residential areas. After the completion of the federal sectoral planning for the SuedLink section E, planning approval procedures are to follow which will determine the exact route of the line within the corridor and the technical implementation.

The German Federal Network Agency has decided on the southern section of the SuedLink power line, a joint project of TenneT and TransnetBW (picture: TenneT)

Linkup
> See press release by Bundesnetzagentur, in German (html)

See article on single page

Deep Dig-It starts work for Hollandse Kust (zuid) grid

24.09.2020

Hollandse Kust (zuid), an offshore wind area in the Dutch North Sea, is located a good 20 kilometres off the coast of the Dutch province of Zuid-Holland. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT is installing the related offshore grid to connect the new offshore wind farms in the area via two offshore platforms and submarine cables to the onshore high-voltage substation that is being built in the Maasvlakte industrial and port area. The jacket for the first of these two offshore platforms has recently been installed and the offshore connection project is now making further progress with the start of the laying of the submarine cables on 22 September.

Four 220kV AC cables with a total length of 42 kilometres each are to be installed in the seabed, of which the first two to the Alpha platform will be laid this year. The other two to the Beta platform will follow in 2021. First, the two cables were brought ashore to the planned Maasvlakte substation via direct drilling. Thereupon the TSCNET shareholder started the marine installation, with the first ten kilometres of the route from the coast at Maasvlakte being extremely challenging. Over this distance, the cables cross the entrance to the port of Rotterdam – Europe’s busiest cargo port – and thus need to be buried more than 5.5 metres deep. For this purpose, the contracted specialist company Van Oord uses its Deep Dig-It trencher, an enormous remote-controlled trencher.

The Deep Dig-It is one of the largest and most powerful devices in its class. The trencher weighs 125 tonnes, is more than 17 metres long, well over 8 metres high, and 11 metres wide. With its enormous power it can bury cables deeply even in very hard ground. The trencher is controlled from an offshore installation vessel equipped with a crane to lower and lift out the high-performance machine. The Deep Dig-It moves unmanned over the seabed and creates a deep trench for the cables by liquefying the seabed. Simultaneously, the Deep Dig-It inserts the cables into the trench and seals the seabed afterwards. With work progressing well, Tennet expects the 1,400MW Hollandse Kust (zuid) grid connection to be completed in 2022.

TenneT has started the laying of submarine cables for the Hollandse Kust (zuid) grid connection (picture: Van Oord)

Linkup
> See TenneT press release (html)
> Watch TenneT video of the Deep Dig-It at work (YouTube)

See article on single page

50Hertz joins new UN sustainable economic initiative

23.09.2020

With its strategy of 100% integration of renewable energy, 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the north-east of Germany, is deeply committed to a sustainable design of the future energy and economic landscape. For this reason, the TSCNET shareholder, together with a vast number of other international companies, has joined a new UN economic initiative, whose supporters have committed themselves to global cooperation and sustainable development goals. “United in the Business of a Better World” is the headline of the statement by the “Business Leaders for Renewed Global Cooperation”.

The initiative is in the context of the UN Global Compact, a UN pact to stimulate businesses all over the world to pursue sustainable and socially responsible policies. The statement was presented on 21 September in New York at this year’s UN General Assembly. Over 1,000 CEOs of companies from more than 100 countries have signed the declaration, which calls for more cooperation across borders, sectors, and generations: “Public and private institutions need to show they are accountable, ethical, inclusive and transparent. This is the only way to strengthen public trust and achieve a more sustainable future for all.” Therefore, the signatories are obligated, inter alia, to ethical leadership, values-based strategies, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making, accountability and transparency, legal certainty, equality, and human rights.

“From 60 to 100 by 2032”, the TSO’s own sustainability initiative to cover 100% of the electricity demand in the 50Hertz grid area with renewable energies by the year 2032, fully complies with the UN goals. “The transformation of the energy system towards climate neutrality is the central element of a sustainable, global climate protection policy,” commented Stefan Kapferer, CEO of 50Hertz, on the publication of the declaration. “With this new strategic ambition, we are not only contributing to the achievement of climate policy goals, but also quite explicitly to the sustainable strengthening of the industrial sites in our grid area. This is the very concrete contribution of 50Hertz to meeting the Paris Climate Change Agreement and thus the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.”

50Hertz joins the UN initiative “Business Leaders for Renewed Global Cooperation” for sustainable development goals (picture: 50Hertz)

Linkup
> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)
> Open Renewed Global Corporation statement (pdf, 847.77kB)

See article on single page

Cooperation to link offshore wind farms

22.09.2020

Realising the full potential of offshore wind energy in the North Sea will be crucial for the decarbonisation of the European economy and society. The transmission system operators (TSOs), whose control areas border the North Sea, are aware of this, including the Dutch-German TSO TenneT and National Grid from the UK. Both the Netherlands and the UK have set ambitious targets for their respective development of wind capacity in the North Sea. However, to achieve large-scale growth in offshore wind energy, significant amounts of new infrastructure and close cooperation between the countries around the North Sea will be essential.

On 22 September, TenneT and National Grid announced a cooperation agreement to examine the feasibility of interconnecting Dutch and British wind farms to the energy systems of both countries via submarine cables. The announcement is following a recent decision by the Dutch government to secure the first 2GW offshore transmission grids for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) in the Netherlands for the IJmuiden Ver wind farm zone, located some 80km off the Dutch north-west coast. Under the cooperation agreement, TenneT and National Grid will explore the development of a multi-purpose interconnector (MPI) to simultaneously connect up to 4GW of Dutch and British offshore wind energy between the two national electricity systems, thereby creating an additional 2GW of interconnection capacity.

By connecting to both systems, the MPI will allow the use of free transmission capacity for electricity trade between the two countries, thus improving the utilisation of offshore infrastructure – and possibly decreasing the need for additional infrastructure. This will also reduce the environmental impact on coastal communities compared to the current approach of separately developing and connecting interconnectors and wind farms. The two TSOs intend to have defined a “pathfinder project” by the end of 2021 with the aim of creating an operational system by 2029.

Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the agreement: “TenneT has been at the forefront of developing multi-purpose interconnection to enable the large-scale growth of offshore wind in the North Sea. This agreement allows us to work with National Grid in the North Sea to develop innovative infrastructure that uses every spare electron of offshore wind generation to reach our decarbonisation targets.”

TenneT has concluded an agreement with National Grid to investigate the interconnection of UK and Dutch offshore wind farms (exemplary picture: TenneT)

Linkup
> See TenneT press release (html)

See article on single page

ALEGrO on the final straight

17.09.2020

Lichtenbusch near the westernmost German city of Aachen is located directly on the border between Germany and Belgium and is divided into a Belgian and a German part. Right here, on 16 September 2020, the final joint of the “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay” (ALEGrO) was installed by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and its Belgian partner TSO Elia. Over a distance of 90 kilometres, the DC interconnector with a transmission capacity of 1,000MW connects the Oberzier substation in the German Rhineland region with the Elia substation in Lixhe in the Walloon province of Liège. ALEGrO is the first direct link between the Belgian and German electricity grids and was realised over its entire length by means of underground cables.

The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) provides much needed grid capacity for cross-border electricity flows, while strengthening security of supply in the German region of Aachen-Cologne and the Belgian province of Liège. The cable laying work for ALEGrO started in October 2018 and after twenty months of construction, the civil engineering work was concluded in June 2020. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, ALEGrO is thus on schedule and nearing completion. The binational power bridge will go into technical operation in October 2020 and will be available to the European electricity market from mid-November. The technical integration of the DC cable into the three-phase grid is a step by step process. The same applies to the parallel market integration. Here, day-ahead capacities are offered first followed by intraday capacities. The allocation of long-term capacities will start in early 2021.

Amprion and Elia installed the final link of the ALEGrO interconnector, which will go into technical operation soon (picture of the project managers Ingo Sander, Amprion, and Dirk Wellens, Elia: Amprion)

Linkup
> See Amprion press release (html)

See article on single page

New power line for west-central Switzerland

17.09.2020

Switzerland’s national sustainable energy strategy and the resulting growth in hydroelectricity generation in the cantons of Berne, Valais, and Ticino require a significant increase in electricity transmission capacities, particularly to transport green energy to the Swiss Central Plateau and to ensure long-term security of supply throughout the country. This requires the upgrade of existing lines to 380kV and the construction of new high-capacity lines. One example of this is the 220kV line from Innertkirchen in the district of Interlaken-Oberhasli (canton of Bern) to Ulrichen/Obergoms in the district of Goms (canton of Valais), most parts of which are over 60 years old.

To maintain a secure connection between Haslital and Obergoms in the future, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) Swissgrid has developed various planning corridors for the construction of a new extra-high voltage line and submitted them to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (FOE). The TSCNET shareholder has defined three main corridors, some of which include sub-corridors: The first option is a pure overhead line, which crosses high alpine terrain in parts. The second is partial cabling. Here, the middle section is implemented as underground cables, mainly in existing tunnels up to Obergoms. The third variant provides for underground cabling almost exclusively. Either in a new, yet to be built tunnel and then, as in the second alternative, in largely existing tunnels – or in the proposed multifunctional Grimsel Tunnel (envisaged for rail transport and power transmission). If the tunnel is used, the corridor variants for the last section to Ulrichen are possible as overhead line or underground cable        .

Each of the submitted options has specific advantages and disadvantages in terms of spatial planning, environment, technology, and economic efficiency. What they all have in common is the relief of settlements in the affected area, where overhead lines currently run partly through villages. The FOE is now discussing and evaluating the planning corridors. Its recommendation will then be submitted to public consultation, and the Swiss Federal Council is expected to determine the planning corridor and transmission technology between Innertkirchen and Ulrichen at the end of 2022.

Swissgrid has designed and submitted corridor variants for the new Innertkirchen-Ulrichen 380kV line (picture of the existing line: Swissgrid)

Linkup
> See Swissgrid media release (html)

See article on single page

Foundation stone laid for ULTRANET substation

17.09.2020

On the site of the former Philippsburg nuclear power plant, which was shut down completely on 31 December 2019, a new DC substation for the German supra-regional “power highway” ULTRANET is being constructed. The Philippsburg substation in the German state of Baden-Württemberg represents the southern end point of ULTRANET, where the high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line will be connected to the regional 380kV AC grid. The new substation is thus to become one of the most important energy hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape. It is being built on behalf of TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from Baden-Württemberg. In its entirety, ULTRANET is a joint project of TransnetBW and further German TSCNET shareholder Amprion. It will transmit wind energy generated in the northwest of Germany to the industrially highly developed southwest. On the other hand, the Philippsburg substation will enable the conversion of AC to DC, e.g. to transport excess photovoltaic electricity from the south to the north.

In March 2020, the construction of the ULTRANET substation was approved by the competent authority and in May, the demolition of the two cooling towers of the former power plant created the necessary construction space of around 100,000m². Now, the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone took place in Phillipsburg in the presence of high-ranking representatives from politics, business, and society – and in strict compliance with the Corona regulations. Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, commented: “It was nevertheless very important to us not to let this important day pass without expressing our thanks to politicians, partners, and the project team.”

Andreas Feicht, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, recognised the progress of the European Project of Common Interest (PCI): “The converter in Philippsburg illustrates that the grid expansion is progressing in large steps.” Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection, and the Energy Sector of Baden-Württemberg, emphasised the specific nature of the location and its symbolic value: “There are few places where the energy transition can be visualised in such a condensed form as here in Philippsburg. After the two cooling towers were detonated in May of this year, the old world made way for the new.”

TransnetBW has celebrated the laying of the foundation stone for the ULTRANET substation in Philippsburg (picture: TransnetBW)

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

See article on single page

High supply security and high share of renewables in Denmark

16.09.2020

Denmark is a world leader in the supply of electricity from renewable sources. 2019 is yet another record year in this respect, according to the annual statement on the security of electricity supply presented by TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO). The availability rate of electricity of 99.996% of the time, which the report reveals, is already impressive, but so is the share of renewables in the Danish electricity grid, which reached 50% last year.

The integration of such extensive and increasing wind and solar energy capacities, more electricity interconnectors, or the harmonisation of markets and grid operation through EC regulations – all these have an impact on the Danish security of supply. Therefore, the high level is not a sure-fire success and, according to Energinet’s CEO Søren Dupont Kristensen, is due to the TSO’s immense efforts: “In the last decade, we have taken enormous steps in the energy transition. For example, wind and sun accounted for less than 20% of electricity in Denmark in those days, whereas today it accounts for over 50%. At the same time, we still have a remarkably high level of supply security. However, this continued high level of supply security does not come by itself, which is why we are paying close attention to the challenges that an ageing electricity grid poses, including an increasing risk of power shortage.”

For 2030, Denmark has set a target of 100% electricity from renewables with a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions. This can only be achieved with a comprehensive sector coupling, as Energinet declares – and, because of the increasingly decentralised electricity generation, through consistent and adequate expansion of the electricity grids. Søren Dupont Kristensen assures that Energinet will take all measures to maintain Danish security of supply at a comparable high level over the next ten years.

Energinet has presented its statement on the Danish security of electricity supply in 2019 (picture: Pixabay)

Linkup
> See Energinet press release, in Danish (html)

See article on single page