Hybridge to couple energy sectors

11.02.2019

Last summer, TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) for electricity, and Open Grid Europe (OGE), German TSO for natural gas, announced a collaboration in the field of sector coupling by means of power to gas (PtG) facilities. PtG technologies offer promising perspectives for a low-carbon energy future. Now the two partners are ready to launch the sector coupling at system level in Germany with the project “hybridge” comprising an electrolyser in the 100MW class and a hydrogen infrastructure.

At a joint press conference on 11 February in the German capital of Berlin, the current status of hybridge and further steps were presented. Since the partners, who estimate the costs for the entire project at €150m, are ready to enter the approval phase, Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, explained that the regulatory framework must now be set up quickly. The more so, as it is crucial for the German climate targets that PtG is available in the GW range from 2030. “The ball is in the court of politics. If the course is set now, the plant can already go into operation in 2023,” commented Dr. Kleinekorte.

The ideal location for the first PtG plant in the projected size, in which electricity from renewable energies is converted into green hydrogen and partly further into green methane via an electrolyser, was found at an intersection between the Amprion and OGE grids in the district of Emsland in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony. The regional natural gas storage facilities, which can be converted to hydrogen in the future, also contribute to optimal conditions for the development of a hydrogen grid to complement the 100MW electrolyser. Amprion and OGE intend to further develop an existing OGE pipeline for the exclusive transport of hydrogen. The concept of Amprion and OGE for sector coupling at system level also includes non-discriminatory third-party access for all market participants to the planned grid coupling infrastructure.

Amprion and the gas-TSO Open Grid Europe are ready to launch their joint sector coupling project “hybridge” (picture: Amprion; from left to right: Dr. Thomas Hüwener, Member of the OGE Management Board, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Revised Network Development Plan for Germany

04.02.2019

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT and TransnetBW today have published the first draft of the new 2019 version of their “Network Development Plan (NDP) 2030” on their joint NDP website. All the different scenarios of the NDP meet the German official 65 percent target for renewables in gross electricity consumption, but differ in terms of the use of innovative technologies, storage technologies and flexibility options. Irrespective of this, a further increase in the internal German electricity market gap can be observed in all scenarios – with cumulative generation in the north and consumption centres in the south and west.

In response to the increase in required transport capacity estimated at around 11GW – due to the expansion of renewables, the significant reduction in the use of coal for electricity generation and the development of the European electricity market – the TSOs consider the construction of two additional major DC lines with a total length of 1160km to be necessary. These two extra lines with a total capacity of 4GW were not part of previous NDPs and go beyond the current German Federal Requirements Plan. The new lines are foreseen to run as underground cables in a corridor from the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein via Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia to Baden-Württemberg. They are part of the scenario B 230, in which the German TSOs propose to build altogether more than 4500km of new or upgraded power lines by 2030 (the abovementioned 1160km of the new DC lines plus an additional 450km of new constructions and 2900km of upgrades).

The costs for the expansion of the German extra-high voltage grid in the B 230 scenario will rise significantly as a result of the new projects. The TSOs estimate the costs at around €52bn. As in previous years, the Offshore Network Development Plan was drafted together with the NDP and integrated into the new NDP 2030. The NDP publication marks the start of a four-week public consultation. The comments will be taken into account for the second draft of the NEP 2030, which will then be submitted to the Federal Network Agency for review. The Agency is expected to announce its modified plans probably in May, after which the Federal Government will have to confirm the expansion in the official Federal Requirements Plan.

The four German TSOs present a revised Network Development Plan 2030, which provides for a total of 4500km of new or upgraded power lines (picture: Amprion GmbH / Haslauer)

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> See Amprion press release (html)
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> Visit the Grid Development Plan website (html)

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MIGRATE and PROMOTioN workshop in Berlin

22.01.2019

The consortia of two innovative grid-related research projects funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme – MIGRATE and PROMOTioN – invite to their first joint workshop entitled “Technical challenges and recommendations for the future European power grid”. Both projects aim to maintain security of supply, grid stability and reliability in times of large scale renewable energy integration. The event takes place on 28 February 2019 at the Maritim Hotel near the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of the German capital of Berlin.

The MIGRATE project (“Massive InteGRATion of power Electronic devices”) comprises 23 partners from 13 European countries, including the transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders Amprion (Germany), ELES (Slovenia), and TenneT (Germany and the Netherlands). The aim of MIGRATE is to explore technology-based solutions for the current and future technological challenges to the transmission system, in particular by linking generation and consumption via power electronics.

The PROMOTioN project (“PROgress on Meshed HVDC Offshore Transmission Networks”) seeks to further develop innovative technologies relevant for the deployment of meshed offshore HVDC grids. Its specific objective is to improve the cooperation between grid operators and major suppliers for a technical architecture and interoperable technologies to accelerate HVDC grid development. As the largest energy project in Horizon, the consortium includes 33 partners from 11 countries, among them TenneT and further TSCNET shareholder Energinet, the Danish TSO.

The first joined workshop of the European research projects MIGRATE and PROMOTioN will be held in Berlin on 28 February

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> See ELES press release (html)
>Visit MIGRATE or PROMOTioN website (html, both with access to event agenda and registration)

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TenneT to build compensatory gas power plant

10.01.2019

The successive shutdown of nuclear or emission-intensive large-scale power plants is an integral part of the energy transition in Germany. In order not to compromise the national energy supply security, the German legislator provides for special grid facilities that should not serve the market constantly but be available as a “safety buffer” on short notice and at any time when the power system reliability is at risk. TSCNET shareholder TenneT is facing up to this task of the energy future and plans to commission such a special grid facility in the form of a 300MW gas power plant on the site of the Irsching substation near Ingolstadt in the German state of Bavaria.

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) now has awarded the contract for the construction and operation of the plant to the energy company Uniper. Probably from 1 October 2022, the power plant will be on stand-by to serve as a “safety cushion” by supplying power in emergency cases. The new gas power plant can be immediately activated in order to maintain transmission system safety and the current level of reliability of the electricity supply also in the future.

From the end of June 2018, TenneT, together with the German TSOs Amprion and TransnetBW, has put out to tender a total of 1,200MW of capacity for special grid facilities Europe-wide and non-technology-specific. The tender covers four regions in southern Germany, each with a capacity of 300MW. For one of these regions, in this case southern Bavaria, TenneT has now awarded the first special grid facility contract.

TenneT has awarded a contract for a compensatory gas power plant at the Irsching substation (picture: Uniper SE) 

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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ACER consultation on Core Capacity Calculation methodology

04.12.2018

Complex issues require precise phrasing. Therefore the new public consultation of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) is called: “Public Consultation on the amendments of the proposal for common capacity calculation methodology for the Core region”. The consultation has opened on 4 December and will be accessible until midnight on Christmas Eve. Invited to participate are all interested stakeholders, including regulatory authorities, nominated electricity market operators (NEMOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs).

What exactly is the objective of the survey? The Capacity Calculation Methodology (CCM) quantifies the electrical capacity that can be offered across borders to the day-ahead and intraday markets. The Core CCM is valid within the Core Capacity Calculation Region (CCR), which comprises Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The TSOs from the Core CCR – among them are the twelve TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, APG, ČEPS, ELES, HOPS, MAVIR, PSE, SEPS, TenneT, Transelectrica and TransnetBW – have conceived and proposed amendments to the Core CCM.

The competent regulatory authorities of the Core CCR have not yet approved the TSO proposal and asked ACER to decide on whether the modified Core CCM complies with the European Capacity Allocation and Congestion Management (CACM) Regulation. Interested parties are invited to provide feedback on the consultation questions concerning the relevant aspects of the Core CCM.

ACER launches public consultation on the compliance of the Core CCM proposed by the Core TSOs with the European CACM Regulation

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> See ACER press release (html)
> Direct access to consultation (html)

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Amprion upgrades historic line

26.11.2018

The power line from Reutlingen-Rommelsbach to Herbertingen in the German state of Baden-Württemberg crosses the southwestern ridge of the Swabian Alb on a length of 61km. Dating back to the 1920s, the overhead line operated by Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is an innovative pioneering achievement in the German transmission grid. Already in the Weimar Republic (the German state from 1918 to 1933), it was used to balance electricity between generation and consumption by connecting the Rhenish mining area with water storage facilities in the Alps.

Now it no longer meets the requirements of the energy present and future. TSCNET shareholder Amprion is therefore dismantling the old line and replacing it with new pylons and conductor ropes. Instead of the current 380 and 220kV circuits, the line will in future be equipped with two 380kV circuits. It will then enable an improved exchange of electrical energy between the wind power generation sites in the north, consumers in the residential and industrial areas, and pumped storage plants in the Alps. The line will thus strengthen regional supply as well as supra-regional transmission and is an important component of the energy transition.

A symbolic cut of the spade on 23 November in Zwiefalten-Sonderbuch on the Swabian Alb marked the official opening of Amprion’s currently largest construction site. Over the next two years, 221 old pylons will be dismantled and 181 new ones will be built. The key figures of the construction project are impressive: The TSO is investing a total of around €85m, and over 11,000 tonnes of steel, thousands of tonnes of concrete foundation and around 1500km of aluminium conductor rope will be used along the route. Due to the significance of the Reutlingen-Herbertingen line for industrial history, four old masts will be preserved as industrial monuments.

Amprion is completely rebuilding the historic Reutlingen-Herbertingen overhead line and improving it for the energy future (picture: Amprion, exemplary picture of line installation work)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Construction start for ALEGrO

30.10.2018

As a responsible and future-conscious transmission system operator (TSO), TSCNET shareholder Amprion is committed to the European Energy Union. An outstanding project in this respect is the Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay (ALEGrO), the first interconnector to directly connect the German and Belgian electricity grids. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is being implemented jointly by Amprion and the Belgian TSO Elia. Following a pleasingly short approval procedure, the starting signal for ALEGrO was given today in the commercial area of the west German city of Aachen. Here, Amprion celebrated the start of construction with a symbolic turning of the first sod.

The ceremony was attended by numerous high-level representatives from politics, business and public life, among them Armin Laschet, Minister President of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, who commented: “ALEGrO is a milestone for cross-border power supply and not only connects North Rhine-Westphalia and Belgium, but also brings Europe closer together.” Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, complemented: “ALEGrO becomes part of the EU’s electricity highway system, which links the centres of renewable energy generation with the major consumption centres in Europe.”

For the entire ALEGrO route (about 49km in Belgium and 41km in Germany) underground cabling will be used. The cable laying work is accompanied by the installation of converters at the ends of the cable in Oberzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium, which convert AC into DC and vice versa. ALEGrO will have a transmission capacity of 1,000MW and thus provide urgently needed grid capacities for cross-border electricity flows. At the same time, ALEGrO will also strengthen supply security in the Aachen-Cologne region.

Amprion celebrated the start of construction of the Belgian-German interconnector ALEGrO (picture: Marcus Pietrek / Amprion; from left to right: Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion; Armin Laschet, Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia; Marcel Philipp, Lord Mayor of Aachen)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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German TSOs revise grid design principles

29.10.2018

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, Tennet, and TransnetBW have revised their plans for grid development in Germany and presented the new version of the “Principles for the Design of the German Transmission System”. This joint document of the four TSOs determines needs-based perspective concepts for secure and efficient grid operation in accordance with national and European legal frameworks and obligations.

With the first publication of the principles in 2012, the German TSOs presented the technical and economic basis of grid design in a transparent and comprehensible manner based on three equally important aspects: grid optimisation, reinforcement and expansion. Since then, the framework conditions have changed in several respects. The TSOs have therefore fundamentally revised and extended the common planning principles last published in the April 2015 version. The principles remain subject to continuous future review by the TSOs and will be adjusted if necessary.

The four German TSOs have released their revised “Principles for the Design of the German Transmission System”

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> See TransnetBW news release, in German (html)
> Open Principles, (pdf, 1,35MB)

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Acer decision on fallback procedures for Core CCR

09.10.2018

In March 2018, the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) was asked by the competent regulatory authorities to decide on the amended proposal of the transmission system operators (TSOs) from the Core Capacity Calculation Region (CCR) regarding the Core CCR fallback procedures. In the following August, ACER invited all interested stakeholders to share their views on the issue in a public consultation. After evaluating the survey, ACER has now published its decision on revisions to the methodology for fallback procedures.

The Core CCR consists of sixteen Central European TSOs, twelve of which are TSCNET shareholders: APG (Austria), ČEPS (Czechia), ELES (Slovenia), HOPS (Croatia), MAVIR (Hungary), PSE (Poland), SEPS (Slovakia), Transelectrica (Romania), the Dutch-German TSO TenneT, and the three further TSOs from Germany 50Hertz, Amprion, and TransnetBW. ACER’s decision introduces minimal changes to fallback procedures in order to improve legal clarity and enforceability. Most importantly, instead of five different shadow allocation rules, only a single set of rules is adopted by the Agency, which specifies in its decision to which bidding zone borders these rules apply.

ACER has published its decision on the improvement of the fallback procedures proposed by the TSOs of the Core CCR

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> See ACER press release (html, with access to decision and consultation results)

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Commissioning of phase-shifter at Amprion substation

12.09.2018

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs) must react sustainably and future-oriented to the changes in the German energy landscape caused by the shutdown of nuclear and other large-scale power plants in the course of the energy transition. A major issue in this respect is the loss of reactive power and an appropriate technological response is provided by phase-shifters. Rotating phase-shifters are highly efficient and flexible reactive power systems for voltage maintenance to compensate the declining reactive power capacities from large plants.

For this reason, TSCNET shareholder Amprion has equipped its Oberottmarshausen substation with a new controllable rotating phase-shifter and the associated transformer. The substation near Augsburg is an important interface between the transnational 380kV grid and the regional grids. Amprion has been modernising the facility since 2016, and the new, state-of-the-art equipment is the centrepiece of the upgraded substation. The work was carried out in stages during ongoing operation and will be completed this year. Amprion is investing a total of around €65m in the expansion and modernisation of Oberottmarshausen.

On 11 September, Dr. Ulrike Wolf, Deputy Head of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology, Ralf Christian, CEO Division Energy Management at Siemens, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, jointly pressed the symbolic button for the official commissioning of the phase-shifter. Mr Kleinekorte explains the importance of the phase-shifter, that enables Amprion to precisely regulate the voltage in its own transmission system as well as in the subordinate distribution grids. “Voltage maintenance is an important element of grid stability, which we continue to guarantee for the citizens and the economy of Bavarian Swabia and in our entire network area.”

From left to right: Ralf Christian, CEO Division Energy Management at Siemens, MDirig. Dr. Ulrike Wolf, Deputy Head of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion (picture: Amprion)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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