525kV technology for Germany’s “power highways”

04.12.2019

SuedLink, SuedOstLink and A-Nord are large-scale DC connection projects that are essential for Germany’s low-carbon energy future, since these so-called “Stromautobahnen” (power highways) will transport green electricity generated in the north and east of the country to the consumption centres in the south and west. The three power lines will be implemented predominantly via underground cabling and are collaborative efforts of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). TenneT and TransnetBW cooperate on SuedLink, 50Hertz and TenneT join forces on SuedOstLink and A-Nord is carried out by Amprion. Together with Ultranet, a joint project with TransnetBW, A-Nord forms the Korridor A.

The four TSCNET shareholders intend to install innovative plastic-insulated DC cables with a voltage level of 525kV in these projects. So far, 320kV cables have been used for comparable DC connections in Germany. As a matter of fact, it will be the first use of 525kV underground cables worldwide, which underlines the pilot character of the three high-performance connections. The decision by the TSOs was preceded by an extensive test phase on the technical suitability of the 525kV cables. The pre-qualification tests according to international standards of the Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) were successful and proved that the 525kV cables are reliable and safe.

A higher voltage level of the cables translates into more transmission capacity. This has two possible effects for the planned DC lines, assuming technical feasibility for the entire system: On the one hand, more electricity can be transmitted in a certain corridor with the same number of cables. On the other hand, fewer cables are required to transmit the same power compared to 320kV cable systems. This allows the routing to be designed narrower, which reduces excavation work and environmental impact.

The four German TSOs opt for innovative 525kV solution for power highways with underground cabling (picture: TenneT)

Linkup
> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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New 50Hertz CEO takes up duties

03.12.2019

On 1 December, Stefan Kapferer took office as the new chairman of the executive board of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Until the end of October 2019, Kapferer headed the German Energy and Water Association (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft – BDEW). Kapferer succeeds interim CEO Dr. Frank Golletz, CTO of 50Hertz, who took over the additional duties after former CEO Boris Schucht had left the company in March 2019.

At a purpose-arranged press conference on 3 December in the German capital Berlin, Stefan Kapferer acknowledged the appeal and diversity of his new task. “The next phase of the realisation of the energy transition is an even greater challenge in terms of entrepreneurship and the European side of things. TSOs play an essential role here,” explained Kapferer. The main issues to be dealt with by 50Hertz are the German coal phase-out, following the current nuclear phase-out, the national legislative climate specifications and the grid extension which is essential for all these measures. For a Baltic Sea riparian TSO, it is particularly important to set the right course for the development of offshore wind energy.

Chris Peeters, head of the 50Hertz supervisory board, highlighted Kapferer’s wealth of political and international experience as former German State Secretary and Deputy Secretary General of the OECD and concluded: “I am convinced that Kapferer’s skills combined with the technical know-how of our staff will result in a great future for 50Hertz. Together we work for our goal: a successful energy transition.”

Stefan Kapferer is in office as new CEO of 50Hertz (picture: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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Swift progress for new 50Hertz overhead line

29.11.2019

This May, TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), started the construction of the first section of the 380kV Perleberg-Wolmirstedt overhead line. The new line will connect the Perleberg substation in Brandenburg with the Wolmirstedt substation in Saxony-Anhalt over a distance of 106km and replace the existing 220kV line from the 1950s. This grid extension is intended to ensure that the increasing quantities of regionally generated electricity from renewable sources are also available to consumers in southern and western Germany.

The first construction phase with 87 pylons and a length of 37km stretches between the substations Stendal West and Wolmirstedt. Construction work is progressing rapidly. More than half of the pylons have now been erected and some masts have already been fitted with power cables. Construction should be completed by mid-March next year.

50Hertz has already erected 48 pylons of the Perleberg-Wolmirstedt overhead line (picture of the substation Wolmirstedt: Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg)

Linkup
> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)

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Single Intraday Coupling expanded

08.11.2019

Europe-wide intraday coupling is a key component for the completion of the European internal energy market. To help achieve this goal, the European cross-border Single Intraday Coupling (SIDC) solution was launched in June 2018 (then called XBID), standing for a significant step towards a single integrated continent-wide intraday market. A market of this kind increases the overall efficiency of intraday trading through effective competition, increased liquidity and more efficient use of generation resources across Europe. The SIDC solution is based on a common IT system with a common order book, a capacity management module and a shipping module.

The participating countries were initially Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. SDIC will now be expanded and continuous electricity trading will be possible across seven further countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia. Nominated electricity market operators (NEMOs) and the participating transmission system operators (TSOs) have confirmed the go-live of the extended SIDC and two additional local implementation projects on 19 November with first deliveries on 20 November.

TSOs already collaborating in SIDC include the TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, APG, TenneT, TransnetBW and Energinet as well as the TSCNET client Creos from Luxembourg. With the second wave, six more shareholders follow, namely ČEPS, ELES, HOPS, MAVIR, PSE and Transelectrica.

The SIDC solution for a single integrated European intraday market is expanded by seven countries, including Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia

Linkup
> See Energinet press release (html)
> See PSE press release (html)
> See APG press release, in German (html)

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50Hertz to improve grid utilisation

29.08.2019

To respond to current and future transmission system requirements, operators can either expand the grid or optimise its utilisation – ideally, they do both. TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is also facing up to the challenges arising from the higher capacity load on the existing grid. The TSO presented its innovative assets and concepts at the System Security Conference (“Systemsicherheitskonferenz”), which is held every two years by 50Hertz.

This year’s conference on 28 August, the 11th edition, attracted almost 150 participants from the energy industry, science, politics and administration to the Berlin headquarters of 50Hertz, where they were welcomed by 50Hertz CEO Dr. Frank Golletz, who also plays the role of the company’s CTO. Golletz explained how the TSO tackles the technical challenges using previously uncommon technologies such as static compensators (STATCOM), series compensations, back-to-back converters or static and rotary phase shifters. “With these assets, our grid becomes a highly dynamic grid in which the power flow is actively controlled,” commented Golletz.

In addition, Golletz argued that, alongside to the indispensable technical innovations, the rules on the energy market should also be continuously further developed. It is important to set the right incentives for all market participants so that the electricity market not only functions from a business point of view, but also keeps an eye on the entire economy.

50Hertz has held its 11th System Security Conference in Berlin, Germany (picture of headquarters: 50Hertz)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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TSO conditions for reserve capacity approved

05.08.2019

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs), the TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TransnetBW and Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, ensure the supply of electricity under all circumstances and thus hold reserve capacities as ultima ratio for unforeseeable and exceptional extreme situations on the electricity market. The reserve capacity is calculated at 2GW and the facilities to provide the capacity are determined every two years by the TSOs through a tendering procedure.

Last week, the Bundesnetzagentur (German Federal Network Agency) approved the new standard conditions for the reserve capacity which had been drafted by the TSOs. The standard conditions are the basis of the contractual relationship between the respective TSO and the operator providing the capacity. They are designed to be as transparent as possible and include, among other things, rules on the availability and use of the reserve system, remuneration or contractual penalties.

Due to the standard conditions, the potential participants in the tender procedure know the terms under which the reserve facilities must be operated and the legal consequences in case of failure of a plant. Now that the conditions have been approved, the tender for the first performance period can start as planned on 1 September 2019.

The German Federal Network Agency approved the TSO standard conditions for reserve capacity (picture: Bundesnetzagentur)

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

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50Hertz and TenneT awarded for PtG projects

26.07.2019

Last week, Peter Altmaier, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, announced the winners of the ideas competition “Reallabore der Energiewende” (“Real Laboratories of the Energy Transition), which aims to promote promising energy technologies of the future, especially in the field of hydrogen technology. The winners include the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from north-east Germany, and Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, as they are both involved in award winning projects.

Tennet is cooperating with Gasunie and Thyssengas for ELEMENT ONE, a power-to-gas (PtG) plant to be built in the German federal state of Lower Saxony, which will be capable of converting up to 100MW of electrical power into gas. ELEMENT ONE is in the planning phase, but the project partners are confident that the results of the project will provide crucial information on electricity and gas grid integration, the development of operator models and the regulatory environment. With their approach, they aim to accelerate the urgently needed transfer of technology and innovation from research to practice in the field of sector coupling and hydrogen technology.

Key technologies of energy supply
50Hertz is involved as associated partner in two winning PtG projects: “GreenHydroChem Mitteldeutsches Chemiedreieck“ in Saxony-Anhalt, and “Reflau – Referenzkraftwerk Lausitz“ in Brandenburg. These two projects also focus on sector coupling and hydrogen technology. The partners for GreenHydroChem are Siemens, Linde, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems (IMWS). With a 50MW electrolyser, regeneratively generated electricity is first to be converted into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then converted in refineries into base chemicals and methanol, which can be blended with conventional fuels for the use in the transport sector. With Reflau, the partners want to combine and test in practice key technologies of energy supply with renewable energies and hydrogen as a chemical storage.

Dr. Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, welcomes the support for innovative technologies: “With our involvement in the laboratories, we are specifically promoting the development of Power-to-X technologies for the energy market. Because if things get serious in a few years’ time, we will need proven and grid-compatible experience with this new technology.”

50Hertz and TenneT are among the winners of the German “Reallabore der Energiewende” competition for the promotion of innovative energy technologies (picture: Fraunhofer IMWS / Sven Döring)

Linkup
> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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High growth in renewables in the 50Hertz area

17.07.2019

The generation of power from wind and sun is increasing steadily and strongly in the control area of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the north-eastern German transmission system operator (TSO). 21.6TWh of wind power were generated in the first half of 2019, compared with only 16.6TWh in the corresponding period of the previous year. In the same time, photovoltaic generation amounted to 6TWh, which is an increase of almost 170GWh. This corresponds with the rise in the installed capacity of onshore and offshore wind turbines, which totalled 19.6GW in mid-2019 (mid-2018: 18.9GW) and the installed capacity of photovoltaic systems, which reached 11.1GW (mid-2018: 10.6GW).

Despite this capacity increase and the incrementing feed-in of electricity into the grid, 50Hertz was able to maintain stable costs for congestion management, such as interventions in the operation of conventional power plants and the temporary shutdown of renewable energy facilities. In the first half of 2019, redispatch costs amounted to around €13m and the costs for feed-in management to around €48m.

This increase in renewable generation and installed capacity from renewable facilities shows that northern and eastern Germany make an indispensable contribution to achieving the German government’s target of a 65% share of renewable energies in nationwide electricity consumption by 2030. However, from the TSO perspective of 50Hertz, the necessary grid extension must be pushed ahead in parallel to be able to transmit the green electricity to the consumption centres in the south and to keep congestion management costs under control.

The generation of electricity from renewable sources is increasing in the control area of 50Hertz (picture showing the transformer platform of the Baltic Sea wind farm Arkona: 50Hertz)

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> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)

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New FCR market design

04.07.2019

The collaboration of central European transmission system operators (TSOs) in the procurement and exchange of Frequency Containment Reserve (FCR) is the first regional cooperation in Europe to implement market harmonisation in compliance with the EU Guideline on Electricity Balancing (EBGL). The TSOs that make up the FCR consortium are: the Austrian, German and Swiss TSCNET shareholders APG, 50Hertz, Amprion, TransnetBW, and Swissgrid, the Dutch-German shareholder TenneT as well as the Belgian TSO Elia and the French TSO RTE, which are supplemented by further TSCNET shareholder Energinet from Denmark as non-active member.

The FCR cooperation was founded in the summer of 2016 and has conducted two consultation rounds in the last two years, resulting in a final proposal, which was approved by all national regulators involved. The first milestone in the advancement of the largest FCR market in Europe has now been reached in the implementation of a new FCR market design. In addition to shortening the product length from a week to a day, the cooperation introduces a marginal pricing system. The aim is to reduce procurement costs and create incentives for new balancing power providers and technologies to enter the market.

The FCR cooperation introduces a new market design

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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TSO offshore connections are most cost-effective

26.06.2019

In most European countries with offshore wind farms, the respective transmission system operators (TSOs) are responsible for connecting these offshore facilities to the onshore grid, which they also operate. The TSCNET shareholders affected by this arrangement include the north-eastern German TSO 50Hertz, the Danish TSO Energinet and the Dutch-German TSO TenneT. But obviously this handling is not the only one possible. In the UK, for instance, the developer of the particular offshore wind farm is also responsible for its grid connection.

In concrete terms, this means that in the UK the offshore grid connection after its completion is sold to commercial investors and a so-called OFTO (Offshore Transport Owner) is established. But which model, the TSO model or the OFTO model, causes the lowest costs for consumers and thus for society?

The internationally accredited registrar and the world’s largest classification society, DNV GL, has investigated this question in more detail. The main outcomes of this study are that in the OFTO system the costs for the development of offshore connections are significantly higher than in Denmark and the Netherlands. In contrast, the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) of the Dutch and Danish offshore connections is significantly lower. The LCOE assesses the average total cost of constructing and operating an energy generating asset over its lifetime divided by its total energy output over that lifetime.

DNV GL has documented lower costs for the TSO connection of offshore wind farms than for the OFTO solution (illustration of Borssele Alpha: TenneT)

Linkup
> See TenneT news release (html)
> Open DNV-GL report (pdf, 453.83kb)

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