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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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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New Amprion phase shifter in operation

06.11.2019

The German transmission system operators (TSOs) have to react with innovative technology to the changes in the German energy landscape caused by the shutdown of nuclear and other large power plants in the course of the energy transition. An important issue is the loss of reactive power, and an appropriate technological response are rotating phase shifters, which are highly efficient and flexible in the provision of reactive power to maintain voltage.

TSCNET shareholder Amprion has now commissioned such a high-performance system at its Illingen-Uchtelfangen substation in the German federal state of Saarland. It is the second rotating phase shifter in the Amprion grid after the TSO commissioned the first one in September 2018 in Oberottmarshausen (Bavarian Swabia). Amprion has invested €60m in the new state-of-the-art equipment, which keeps the transmission grid stable and thus further increases supply security in Saarland.

The commissioning ceremony was attended by Anke Rehlinger, Saarland Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour, Energy and Transport. Together with Amprion Managing Director Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, General Manager of GE Grid Solutions Gerhard Seyrling and representatives of district and municipal politics, she pressed the “red button”, which symbolically put the facility into operation. Mrs Rehlinger commented on the new device: “Against the backdrop of the energy transition, grid stability and security of supply are becoming increasingly important. With the installation of the rotating phase shifter, Amprion is making an important contribution to the future of power transmission grids.”

Amprion has commissioned a new rotating phase shifter at the Illingen-Uchtelfangen substation (picture: Amprion;  Amprion CTO Klaus Kleinekorte and Saarland Minister Anke Rehlinger in the middle)

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

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Two transformers reach Garenfeld

05.11.2019

The last weekend was literally “heavy” for TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Not one but two 276-tonne transformers were transported to Amprion’s Garenfeld substation in Hagen in North Rhine-Westphalia. It took both days of the weekend for the 30 kilometre stretch from the railway station to the substation. The special road transport units each had a total length of around 80 metres and together with the transformer each weighed 519 tonnes.

About 40 employees from various companies were involved in the transport during the two nights. At the end of August, the first of a total of five transformers had already been delivered to the substation. Amprion is currently planning to move the last two transformers to Garenfeld at the end of November.

Two transformers have been delivered to the Garenfeld substation operated by Amprion (picture: Amprion)

Linkup
> See last week’s announcement press release, in German (html)
> See Amprion tweet, in German (html)

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First cables of ALEGrO installed

27.09.2019

The “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay” (ALEGrO) will be the first direct interconnector of the German and Belgian electricity grids. Its transmission capacity of 1,000MW is going to significantly increase cross-border electricity flows and security of supply in the regions surrounding the new converter stations at the respective ALEGrO end points, Niederzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is jointly being implemented by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and the Belgian TSO Elia.

In the summer of 2019, several teams were working simultaneously at different points along the 41km-long ALEGrO section in Germany on the installation of the conduit system for the underground cables. Underground cabling is used exclusively for the entire German-Belgian power bridge. Due to the dry summer, construction work on the DC link has progressed rapidly: 60 percent of the cable conduits have already been completed. Amprion is now beginning to pull the 320kV cables successively into the conduits, initially in Niederzier, where the construction of the new ALEGrO converter plant is also progressing well.

Amprion starts the installation of ALEGrO underground cables (picture: Rheinhard Nießing / Amprion)

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

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Amprion commissions state-of-the-art technology

01.09.2019

The Kriftel substation between Frankfurt and Wiesbaden in the German federal state of Hesse controls power distribution for the greater Frankfurt area with its almost six million inhabitants. The station is operated by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), which has been expanding and modernising it since 2016 and has invested a total of around €34m. During a ceremony held on 30 August with representatives of state and local politics, the new, state-of-the-art equipment in Kriftel was put into operation.

Amprion’s substation not only secures the power supply in the northwestern Rhine-Main area but will now also play an important role in providing reactive power. The installation of the relevant technology in Kriftel became necessary due to the changes in power generation and feed-in in Germany. The declining reactive power capacities of large power plants, which are now being successively taken off the grid in the course of the energy transition, must be compensated by the national TSOs to keep the reactive power in balance with the active power and thus keep the grid voltage at the required level.

The hybrid reactive power compensation system installed in Kriftel is the most powerful of its kind in the German grid. It consists of two units: a static synchronous compensator system (Statcom) and a mechanical switched capacitor with damping network (MSCDN). Depending on requirements, they can raise or lower and secure the voltage in the grid. Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, explained the importance of the new system technology: “By optimising the switching of many electronic modules, the new hybrid system in Kriftel will help to keep the voltage level in the grid stable and thus continue to guarantee a high level of supply security in the region.”

Amprion commissions the modernised Kriftel substation (picture of a Statcom system as installed in Kriftel: Siemens)

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

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TransnetBW order for “bnBm” gas power plant

20.08.2019

TSCNET Services shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), has awarded Energie Baden-Württemberg AG (EnBW) the contract for the provision of a “special network equipment” (“besonderes netztechnisches Betriebsmittel”, bnBm). EnBW will construct and operate a gas turbine power plant with a capacity of 300MW at Marbach. The city is the birthplace of the poet Friedrich Schiller and is located about 20 kilometres north of Stuttgart on the Neckar River.

The special network equipment will not be available to the market, but will be used from 1 October 2022 as a “safety buffer” exclusively at the request of TransnetBW to ensure safety and reliability in the transmission grid. It thus serves as a further reserve for the safety and reliability of the electricity supply system.

“Behind us lies a demanding tendering procedure, because we had to procure a completely new product,” says Dr. Rainer Pflaum, Managing Director of TransnetBW. It was about access to a capacity that “helps to stabilise the power grid flexibly and reliably”. The new plant would be an important component for supply security in the region.

Together with the TSOs Amprion and TenneT, TransnetBW issued a call for tenders for the special grid technology equipment with a total volume of 1,200MW open to technology and Europe-wide at the end of June 2018. Altogether, the tenders cover four regions in southern Germany, each with a capacity of 300MW.

TransnetBW placed an order for the provision of a gas turbine power plant with a capacity of 300MW (picture: EnBW)

Linkup
> Open TransnetBW press release, in German (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)

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

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Fauna-friendly extension of Amprion substations

25.07.2019

TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is expanding its Siegburg substation in North Rhine-Westphalia, near the former seat of the West German government in Bonn. The planning is progressing well: By 2023, the existing 220/110kV substation is to be integrated into the 380kV grid. To this end, the current installations will be extended by a 380/220kV transformer and a gas-insulated switchgear at the 380kV voltage level. A new overhead line will connect the station to Amprion’s supra-regional transmission system.

But there is more to be told from Siegburg, as the substation provides a home for seven bee colonies. In May, further TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, reported on a pilot project on eco-friendly substation maintenance, and now Amprion also informs about new steps in this field: Around 350,000 bees of the Buckfast and the Carniolan breeds live in a specially fenced area and bring the nectar gathered on their flights back to the hives at the station. “We are very happy about our new neighbours,” says Klaus Breitbach, operations manager of the substation. “We hope that our new neighbours will thank us for the good location with one or the other glass of honey”.

News is also coming from the Bischoffsheim substation in the Rhine-Main Area. Here, too, Amprion is working on the grid of the future: To ensure security of supply for the region and the state capitals of Mainz (Rhineland-Palatinate) and Wiesbaden (Hesse), the TSO is expanding and modernising the existing 380kv system with a transformer and switch panels. On 27 July, Amprion expects the delivery of the 350MVA transformer. First, the transformer with a weight of around 350 tonnes is being transported by rail. The last 560 meters on the road will be taken over by a heavy haulage tractor unit with a length of 78 meters and two times twelve axles. The total weight of the transport unit is 574 tonnes.

Bees at Amprion substation

Amprion welcomes bee colonies to the Siegburg substation and is expecting a new transformer at the Bischoffsheim substation (picture: Amprion)

Linkup
> See Amprion press release on the Siegburg substation, in German (html)
> See Amprion press release on the Bischofsheim substation, 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

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

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