Amprion invests €1bn in 525kV cables for A-Nord

12.05.2020

The DC transmission line A-Nord represents the northern part of Corridor A, which is one of the main axes of the German energy transition. The 300-kilometre line from the port city of Emden at the Dollart Bay to Osterath in the Lower Rhine region is being implemented by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). With a capacity of 2GW, A-Nord will transport wind power from the North Sea to the centres of consumption in the Rhineland and Ruhr district. The southern part of Corridor A is the Ultranet line, which is being implemented jointly by Amprion and further TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW.

Like other large-scale German DC interconnection projects that are essential to the country’s low-carbon energy future, A-Nord will be realised via underground cabling. The transmission capacity of 2GW will be achieved by 525kV cables whose efficiency significantly reduces the environmental impact but requires a special insulation material and highly competent suppliers. After extensive technical tests, Amprion has now contracted the underground cables for A-Nord. The specialist companies Prysmian Powerlink and Sumitomo Electric Industries are each supplying one cable system for A-Nord. The manufacturers will produce the systems concurrently with the construction of the line, scheduled to start in 2023.

Dr Hans-Jürgen Brick, CEO of Amprion, comments in view of the challenges to achieve a sustainable energy future: “It is essential that the grid expansion continues to progress swiftly.” Dr Klaus Kleinekorte, the TSO’s CTO, adds: “With this assignment, Amprion once again demonstrates that we are a driving force for innovative developments.”

Amprion has awarded contracts for the 525kV underground cables for the A-Nord power highway (picture: Amprion / Lutz Kampert)

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

See article on single page

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)

See article on single page

Germany wants to speed up grid expansion

16.08.2018

Germany’s electricity transmission system operators (TSOs) repeat it like in prayer mills: If the energy transition in Germany is to succeed, the extension of the supraregional transmission system must keep pace with the expansion of renewable energy generation. This is mainly due to the special conditions in Germany, where the major renewable generation sites lie in the north of the country and thus far from the main consumption centres in the south and southwest. To ensure security of supply for the future, electricity must be transported reliably from north to south. This requires efficient power lines, such as the well-known line projects “A-Nord”, “SuedLink”, “SuedOstLink”, and “Ultranet”, or the “Südwest-Kuppelleitung”, which was completed in 2017.

Unfortunately, the expansion is lagging behind the set goals. The Power Line Expansion Act (EnLAG), which came into force in 2009, provides that by 2015 the transmission grid should have been extended by around 1,800km. Three years later, not even half of the total length has been realised: Of the 1,800km of power lines under EnLAG, around 1,150km have been approved and only about 800km have been completed. The German TSOs expect about 70 percent of EnLAG line kilometres to be completed by the end of 2020. There are many reasons for the delay, such as lack of political support, long approval procedures, complaints from citizens, or environmental issues. Already at the beginning of last year, the four German TSOs, 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW, submitted revised network development plans to the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the competent German authority in terms of grid extension.

Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, has now expressed the political goal of significantly accelerating grid extension in order to guarantee a secure and affordable energy transition. The Minister took a visit to the Bundesnetzagentur on 14 August as an opportunity to declare the grid extension a top priority and to present the Ministry’s “Aktionsplan Stromnetz” (“Power Grid Action Plan”). Mr Altmaier added: “For a successful energy transition we need a modern and well-developed transmission system as well as the expansion of renewable energies. The power grids are the cardiovascular system of our power supply. This must function reliably from the wind turbine in the North Sea to the charging station in Bavaria.”

With his action plan, Altmaier is pursuing a double strategy: On the one hand, existing lines are to be optimised with the help of new technologies and operating concepts: e.g. line monitoring, new conductor cables, phase shifters, controllable transformers, or improved redispatching. Also the digitisation should help to enhance the grid capacity. On the other hand, the grid extension is to be accelerated. For this purpose, the so-called “Netzausbaubeschleunigungsgesetz” (“Grid Extension Acceleration Law”) is to be amended in autumn to facilitate approval procedures. In addition, effective and forward-looking controlling should be established for all grid projects.

According to a press release, TSCNET shareholder Amprion welcomes the efforts. “To speed up network expansion, we need a common understanding from Berlin to the local city halls,” said Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, Chief Commercial Officer of Amprion. “This is the only way we can solve the complex challenges of the projects.” Moreover, no fundamental new laws were needed to accelerate network expansion, but less bureaucracy. If the approval processes were made more efficient, more time would remain to develop the best possible solutions for new routes in dialogue with the citizens.

When designing the network expansion, Amprion focused on innovations – both in transmission and construction technologies as well as in system management. Nevertheless, not all the wishes of residents and interest groups could be fulfilled – for example, where physics or laws set limits. “We need demand-driven grid expansion in order to continue to operate the energy system in a stable manner in the future. At the same time, we are exploiting all possibilities to make our network even more flexible and efficient,” said Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, Chief Technical Officer of Amprion.

Peter Altmaier, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, presents a Power Grid Action Plan (illustration using a photo © German Federal Government / Kugler)

Linkup
> Open Power Grid Action Plan, in German (pdf, 1.47MB)
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

Groundbreaking ceremony at Ultranet substation

02.07.2018

In June 2017, TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), applied for building permit for a new gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) at its substation on the grounds of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg. One year later, the TSO has celebrated the start of construction with a symbolic turning of the first sod. The GIS replaces the existing open-air switchgear. One of the reasons why it is the technology of choice, is the system’s little space requirement ‒ it takes up only a fifth of the area of the open-air switchgear.

In Philippsburg, the supra-regional DC line Ultranet will be connected to TransnetBW’s regional 380kV grid. This makes the substation one of the most significant power hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape. Ultranet is a joint venture of TransnetBW and further TSCNET shareholder Amprion and destined to transfer renewable (primarily wind) energy from the northwest of the country to the industrially highly developed southwest. The GIS complements the new Ultranet converter, which is also to be built on the plant site. This device will convert the Ultranet DC into AC, which will then be fed into the transmission system by the GIS.

Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, referred to the Philippsburg upgrade as “central component” of the supply security in times of the energy transition. The reconstruction measures will “ensure that the electricity generated in the north reaches the local consumers safely”. According to the current state of planning, the GIS will be commissioned in 2021.

Picture by TransnetBW (from left to right: Norman Weber, Subproject Manager Ultranet at TransnetBW, Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, Stefan Martus, Mayor of Philippsburg, Dr. Martin Schumacher, Boardmember ABB AG, Joachim Schneider, Head of District Adminstration Karlsruhe, Klaus Kaufmann, Project Manager ABB)

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

See article on single page

Ultranet hits another milestone

17.01.2018

Ultranet, a German supra-regional DC line, will be realised as a joint project of the TSCNET shareholders Amprion and TransnetBW, two of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). It is destined to transport green electricity (mainly wind power) from northwestern Germany to the consumption centres in the southwest. Together with the A-Nord line it forms the so-called Korridor A, a key route of the German energy transition. Ultranet is making significant progress: For the southern Ultranet section between Mannheim-Wallstadt and Philippsburg in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region, for which TransnetBW is responsible, the second application for Federal Sectoral Planning has been submitted to the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the competent German authority in terms of grid management and grid extension. The participation phase of the project starts today with the public display of the planning.

However, Ultranet is only one of several projects for extending TransnetBW’s transmission grid and making it future proof. Another example is the 380kV upgrade of the power line Weinheim-Karlsruhe, which goes hand in hand with substation modernisations. Concerning this project, the TSO filed the first application for Federal Sectoral Planning already in December 2017. At the invitation of the Bundesnetzagentur, a public application conference will be held next February. Maria Dehmer, project spokeswoman for TransnetBW for both projects, considers the participation possibilities “a great opportunity for the public to weigh in with all their concerns”.

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

Picture: Edited screenshot taken from video “Ultranet – Gleichstromübertragung auf bestehenden Trassen” (YouTube, TransnetBW)

.

See article on single page

Amprion presents A-Nord routings

26.07.2017

From 2025 onwards, the DC connection A-Nord is destined to transport wind energy from the northwest of Germany to the consumption centres in the west and south of the country. The project is to be realised for the most part by means of underground cables. With a total length of 300 kilometres, A-Nord will have the capacity to transfer 2GW of electrical power. This corresponds to the needs of about two million people. A-Nord is carried out by TSC member Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Together with Ultranet, a joint project with further TSC member TransnetBW, A-Nord forms the so-called Korridor A, a key route of the German energy transition.

Last winter, Amprion performed a detailed environmental analysis involving meetings with public authorities, regional planning authorities or agricultural, forestry, and nature conservation associations. Taking all the results into account, the TSO now has publicly presented the suggestions for possible line routings and enters into the phase of intensive dialogue with the affected public.

“Our goal is to get a lot of valuable information that will allow us to further refine and optimise our planning,” explains Klaus Wewering, Amprion’s project manager. The TSO will incorporate all of the newly acquired data into possible alternative route corridors and intends to apply in March 2018 for Federal Sectoral Planning at the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the competent German authority in terms of grid management and grid extension.

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> Visit A-Nord website

Picture based on mapping and photo by Amprion / Frank Peterschröder

.

See article on single page

Gas-insulated switchgear for Ultranet substation

26.07.2017

The substation on the site of the nuclear power plant Philippsburg in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg is of strategic importance for Germany’s future energy landscape. Here, the supra-regional DC line Ultranet will be connected to the 380kV grid of TSC member TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Ultranet, carried out jointly by TransnetBW and further TSC member Amprion, is set to transport renewable (primarily wind) energy from the northwest of Germany to the industrially highly developed southwest. Together with the A-Nord line it forms the so-called Korridor A, a flagship project of the German energy transition.

TransnetBW is preparing the exchange of the substation’s existing open-air switchgear with a newly constructed gas-insulated switchgear (GIS). Next to the GIS, a new converter station is also being built on the plant site. The DC from Ultranet will be converted into AC before the GIS feeds it into the transmission system. TransnetBW decided on a GIS system for the renewal of the Philippsburg substation since it requires only a fifth of the area of the open-air switchgear.

To launch the GIS project, TransnetBW has submitted the approval documents for the construction to the city of Philippsburg. In accordance with administrative proceedings, the documents will be handed over by the city government to Baden-Württemberg’s responsible Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector. Based on current planning, the GIS is to be completed and put into operation by the end of 2020. In the months to follow, all transmission lines will be connected to the new system. As soon as this has happened, the open-air switchgear can be dismantled.

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

Picture: TransnetBW

.

See article on single page

Amprion banks on underground cables and dialogue

06.10.2016

The projected DC power line A-Nord from Emden at the German North Sea coast to the area of Osterath near Düsseldorf in North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the key projects of the German energy transition. The grid expansion in Germany is essential in order to transport sustainable energy from the north of the country to the industrially higher developed regions in the west and south. The decision of the German Federal government on the primacy of underground over overhead cables has prompted TSC member Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), to redesign possible routings of A-Nord fundamentally.

Amprion’s aim concerning A-Nord is to figure out route options for the underground cabling that are as straight as possible. At the same time the TSO has to consider the legitimate concerns of affected citizens and also the environmental impacts of the earth cable routings. Therefore the company starts its project related publicity work right at the very first stage of the plannings for A-Nord. Amprion’s project manager Klaus Wewering explains: “In the early planning phase we focus on the dialogue in the regions before we sketch concrete courses.” Naturally, the dialogue will not only involve citizens and interest groups, but also local authorities and politicians.

The federal authority to supervise the A-Nord development is the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency), the competent German authority in terms of grid expansion. A-Nord will probably have a total length of about 300km. With regard to all necessary steps of the public campaign and the official approval procedure, the commisioning of A-Nord is scheduled for 2025.

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “Planfeststellung: Festlegen der exakten Leitungsverläufe” (Bundesnetzagentur, YouTube)

.

See article on single page