Swissgrid presents good results despite grid expansion


The business environment for European energy companies such as the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) Swissgrid is demanding in times of the energy transition and the European market integration. Some political uncertainty factors with regard to networking at European level, the relocation of the company to its new headquarters in the “energy canton” of Aargau, and the revision of the legal framework for the Swiss energy sector were particular challenges for the TSCNET shareholder last year. Nevertheless, the TSO presents solid results at his annual media conference.

An integral element of Swissgrid’s forward-looking infrastructural planning is the “Strategic Grid 2025”. As part of this strategy, Swissgrid began in 2018 with the construction of two important overhead line projects in the cantons of Valais and Aargau. Worth mentioning is the line section at Gäbihübel near Bözberg/Riniken in Aargau, where Switzerland’s first underground cabling on the 380kV voltage level is being implemented. But even with the expansion of its infrastructure, Swissgrid managed to further reduce operating costs thanks to successful efficiency measures.

As far as the key figures are concerned, the company’s net profit rose slightly to CHF65.6m, while earnings before interest and taxes amounted to CHF119.4m, a decrease of 4.4% compared to the previous year. This is attributable to Swissgrid’s consistent reduction of volume and tariff-related timing differences, which led to a decline in invested operating assets. Yves Zumwald, CEO of Swissgrid, comments on the business year in a demanding environment: “Thanks to the consistent implementation of our efficiency measures and the great commitment of our team members, we are able to report a robust result.”

Swissgrid reports solid results in its Annual Report 2018

> See Swissgrid media release (html)
> Open Annual Report 2018 (pdf, 1.4MB)

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50Hertz plans to invest some €3.4bn


Northeast Germany – and thus the control area of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) – continues to be a pioneer in the integration of renewable energies in Central Europe. For the second year in a row, renewables accounted for more than half of electricity consumption, and once more a new record was set with a regenerative share of 56.5% (2017: 53.4%). The installed capacity of renewables rose to 32.9GW, which is why Boris Schucht, CEO of 50Hertz, had every reason to express his contentment with this development during the 50Hertz balance sheet press conference on 26 February 2019 in the German capital of Berlin: “We are proud that with this record share of renewables, we can contribute to a successful energy transition.” Since this share will increase continuously in the 50Hertz control area, the federal growth target of 65% for 2030 can be achieved as early as 2021.

At the same time, the costs for congestion management, mainly caused by redispatch, fell significantly last year, by an impressive €100m to around €105m. This is due in particular to the effect of the extra-high voltage line “Südwest-Kuppelleitung” (aka “Thuringian Power Bridge”) and two now fully operational phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) on the borders with Poland and the Czech Republic respectively. But also in the future, the expansion of the transmission infrastructure must keep pace with that of the renewables. 50Hertz is taking this into account with exceptionally high investments in the transformation of the energy system. These are facilitated by the TSO’s excellent operating results. Over the past five years, 50Hertz has already invested over €3bn in the grid (€492m in 2018). By 2023, 50Hertz plans to spend a further €3.4bn (€420m in 2019).

Among the outstanding infrastructure projects are the “Ostwind 1” offshore connection, which has been in trial operation since last year, and the “Combined Grid Solution”, a Danish-German interconnector in the Baltic Sea that links the German “Baltic 2” wind farm with the Danish “Kriegers Flak” farm and will be connected to the grid in 2019. The supra-regional DC project “SuedOstLink” is making significant progress, too, as the federal sector planning is underway and the European tender for the underground cables has been launched. 50Hertz CTO Dr. Frank Golletz, who will take over the function of Boris Schucht as interim CEO from 1 March 2019, announced the continuation of the TSO’s ambitious investment program. Golletz also pointed out that the political and regulatory framework must be optimised and made innovation-friendly to realise the energy transition.

50Hertz presents excellent results for 2018 and announces further sustainable investments in its transmission grid (illustration using pictures of 50Hertz)

> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> Open press conference presentation, in German (pdf, 4.09MB)

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TenneT presents Annual Report


The transition to significantly more solar and wind energy in the power grid continues to have a substantial impact on the business operations of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The apparent progress made by TenneT in this respect is reflected in the TSO’s just published Integrated Annual Report 2018, which is accompanied by the Green Finance Report 2018. To further advance the energy transition, TenneT focuses on the innovation and optimisation of the existing transmission system as well as on major national and international grid expansions. Manon van Beek, CEO at TenneT, refers to the necessity “to expand and reinforce our grids both onshore and offshore” and further explains: “We must also use the capacity of this infrastructure better, more flexibly and efficiently with the help of technology.”

TenneT again achieved a very good financial result in 2018. On an underlying revenue basis of €4.2bn, the TSO invested €2.3bn (2017: €1.8bn) in the energy transition and security of supply, with remarkable success, as grid availability in 2018 was 99.9988% within TenneT’s control area. And apart from the ensured reliability of the current transmission system, TenneT also wants to guarantee security of supply in the future. Since the energy future cannot be realised without inventive concepts, TenneT was and will be very active in innovation research for a flexible and affordable energy system based on solar and wind energy as well as green hydrogen. Several research projects are currently underway with renowned partners from industry and science.

Especially in terms of wind energy, TenneT is setting standards by reaching a new milestone in Germany and bringing almost 17TWh of offshore wind energy ashore in 2018. TenneT’s total connection capacity for offshore wind farms grew to 6,232MW. The BorWin3 and DolWin6 projects, which will be completed in 2019 and 2023 respectively, will further increase capacity to more than 8,000MW in Germany, while the development of an offshore grid in the Dutch North Sea is also progressing as planned.

Another important operational objective of TenneT is the further integration of the Northwest European electricity market, which is essential for the success of the European energy targets. One of TenneT’s current projects is the Doetinchem-Wesel link between the Netherlands and Germany, which went into operation in September 2018. In addition, the COBRAcable subsea connection between the Netherlands and Denmark has “landed” at the Eemshaven connection point and will be commissioned this year. Also worth noting is the NordLink cable connection currently under construction, which will be the first direct link between the German and Norwegian markets. The 624km interconnector is expected to come on stream in 2021. TenneT will then be operating 16 interconnectors in total.

TenneT presents its Integrated Annual Report 2018 and Green Finance Report 2018 (picture: screenshot taken from video “50 Hertz – The challenge of continuous electricity”, TenneT – Youtube)

> See TenneT press release, (html)
> Visit Integrated Annual Report 2018 website (html)
> Open Green Finance Report 2018 (pdf, 2.84MB)

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Swissgrid reports solid results


According to Yves Zumwald, CEO of the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) Swissgrid, the TSCNET shareholder looks back on a “solid financial year in a challenging environment in 2017”. Since the changes in the European and Swiss energy system increase the demands on secure grid operation, Swissgrid has been preparing for the future in 2017 by introducing the “Strategy 2022”. This strategy maps out the development and implementation of important measures for the continuing security of Switzerland’s electricity supply.

Due to the reduction in the Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC), the earnings before interest and taxes and the financial result decreased in 2017 in comparison to the preceding year. At the same time, the Swiss TSO managed to reduce operating expenses thanks to successful efficiency measures. Beyond that, important infrastructural milestones were realised in 2017, including the commissioning of a power line section between Châtelard and La Bâtiaz in the Swiss Canton Valais to transport the electricity generated by the new Nant de Drance pumped storage power plant. However, the extension of the transmission system is still not proceeding quickly enough and important projects are stuck in the planning and approval stage due to outer conditions.

> See Swissgrid media release (html, with access to annual report)

Picture: Swissgrid

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Grid modernisation and profit increase in Czechia


High revenues from cross-border capacity auctions and system services, sustainable business practices, and well-considered investments in the Czech transmission system belong to the mainstays of a very succesful business year 2017 for TSCNET shareholder ČEPS, the Czech transmission system operator (TSO). The profit of CZK2.897bn (about €114m) before tax represents an increase of CZK824.6m (about €32.5m) in comparison to 2016. As in previous years, ČEPS continued to diligently maintain and expand the national grid in 2017 and spent more than CZK3.5bn (about €138m) on the transmission infrastructure. At the same time, ČEPS transferred a total of 63,372GWh of electricity through the Czech transmission system, which reached a peak load of 11.769MW on 24 January.

The most important milestone in grid modernisation was the installation of four new phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) in the northern Bohemian substation in Hradec u Kadaně, which have been in full operation since September 2017. Jan Kalina, Chairman of the ČEPS Board of Directors, comments on the state-of-the-art PSTs: “These special transformers allow transferring maximum amounts of electricity without threatening the reliability of supplies in the Czech Republic and as such they significantly protect the Czech electricity system against dangerous electricity flows from abroad.” Other major projects completed in 2017 include the reconstruction of the Čechy Střed transformer station in the Central Bohemian Region and the construction of a new 400/110kV transformer station at Vernéřov in the region of Ústí nad Labem.

> See ČEPS press release (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “PST transformátory v rozvodně Hradec u Kadaně z pohledu dronů” (ČEPS, YouTube)

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50Hertz presents new feed-in record


TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), has held its press briefing on the annual results of 2017. In addition to continued positive business development, 50Hertz could also report that northeastern Germany, which is virtually synonymous with the 50Hertz control area, continues to be a pioneer in the integration of the renewables: Last year, for the first time more than half (53.4%) of the electricity consumed in this control area came from regenerative sources.

In order to maintain its pioneering status, 50Hertz invested €460m in grid expansion: €246m in offshore connection projects in the Baltic Sea, and €214m in substations and onshore lines. The costs for redispatching measures decreased significantly, mainly due to the complete commissioning of the extra-high voltage line “Südwest-Kuppelleitung” (aka “Thuringian Power Bridge”). Boris Schucht, CEO of 50Hertz, explains: “By 8 March 2018, 50Hertz was able to save €306m in congestion management costs through the ‘Südwest-Kuppelleitung’.”

Though grid extension thus has proven to pay off, extension measures alone are not sufficient to succeed with the energy transition. “We require innovative technical approaches and need to think about higher network utilisation,” comments Mr Schucht. Early involvement of the affected public is also essential, since acceptance is “the basic condition for grid expansion”.

> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)
> Open balance sheet presentation, in German (pdf, 2.1mb)

Picture: Jan Pauls / 50Hertz

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TenneT reports on a prolific 2017


With the Integrated Annual Report 2017 and the Green Finance Report 2017, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), yet again presents a combination of healthy financial results (22 percent boost in revenue, experiencing a jump from €3,227 million to €3,948 million) with an enduring commitment to the sustainable energy future and impressive investments (€736 million invested in the Netherlands, and €1,032 million in Germany) in the transmission system of the future. The company’s strategy for increasing the grid resilience while maintaining high supply security includes extension of the TSO’s onshore and offshore infrastructure, the development of a more flexible electricity system, and the introduction of intelligent software based on blockchain technology.

Prominent examples of TenneT’s forward-thinking actions in 2017 are two pilot projects in the Netherlands and Germany, which enable consumers to take part in the electricity market, as well as offshore systems for connecting wind farms to the onshore grid, or interconnectors such as the Dutch-Danish COBRACable and NordLink between Germany and Norway. The conception of an artificial island in the North Sea, the North Sea Wind Power Hub, to bundle wind power capacities and, moreover, to connect national markets, is perhaps TenneT’s most outstanding future vison in this regard. In 2017, TenneT was able to enlarge the Power Hub Consortium promisingly.

TenneT’s CEO Mel Kroon is profoundly pleased with the TSO’s business year and comments: “In 2017 we made good progress on realising our strategic priorities.” Mr. Kroon emphasises that the company succeeded in combining supply security with grid modernisation and expansion, but also pointed out the future tasks: “Now that modern society is increasingly dependent on electricity, the costs of renewable electricity decrease significantly and ‘green power’ is supplied by a wide range of sources at countless locations, we must shift to a new electricity system that can support this revolution.”

> See TenneT press release (html, with access to the reports)

Picture: TenneT

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Interactive annual report from PSE


The business conduct of any transmission system operator (TSO) has an enormous impact on its environment. For the example of Poland, this is profoundly documented in the recently published integrated annual report of TSCNET shareholder PSE, the Polish transmission system operator. In addition to the overview of the company, the report presents the PSE’s new strategy and initiatives to ensure present and future security of the electricity system. The publication format of the report complies with these innovative business strategies as it is published in a well-designed interactive format employing state-of-the-art technology.

The new integrated report is PSE’s first to combine a sustainability report with financial data. Another feature is the inventive PSE value creation model, which is based on the three areas of market, infrastructure and investment as well as people and relationships. In his statement on the report and the company’s involvement in socio-political issues, Eryk Kłossowski, President of the PSE Board, emphasises the importance of implementing a capacity market: “This will significantly contribute to the improvement of system operation security, and hence support PSE in the fulfilment of its duties as TSO.”

> See PSE press release (html, with access to report)

Picture: PSE / Picture from PSE’s interactive annual report

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Transmitting positive energy in Slovenia


Succesful business operations in a challenging environment – the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO) and TSC member ELES has published its annual report for 2016. The comprehensive overview of all ELES activities presents as key figure an increase of total revenue of 7% compared to 2015. The Slovenian TSO expresses its contentment with the results achieved in 2016. The electrical energy input in 2016 amounted to 22,136GWh, the peak load was recorded at 3,603MW.

> See ELES press release (html)
> See online version ELES annual report 2016 (html)
> Open ELES annual report 2016 (pdf, 9.55mb)

Picture: ELES annual report


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Amprion invests on record level


During its annual press event in the German capital of Berlin on 7 June 2017, TSC member Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), presented impressive facts and figures from the business year 2016. The expansion and modernisation of the transmission system remains the prime challenge for Amprion. Last year, the TSO invested €567m in grid infrastructure, topping the investements of 2015 by more than €90m. “To advance the energy transition, we invested as much in 2016 as never before”, explains Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, Amprion’s Chief Commercial and Financial Officer.

Grid extension is essential to the future security of electricity supply in Germany and beyond. This became explicitly clear throughout the cold periods of last winter, when Amprion was confronted with an extremely high transport demand on the north-south power lines of the company. In view of the imminent shutdown of the nuclear plants in southern Germany, such high demands are very likely to become the rule. That is why Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, Chief Technical Officer at Amprion, declared: “We urgently need to speed up the expansion of the transmission grid.” Nevertheless, already now the TSO has realised large parts of its objectives: “At the end of 2016, well over two-thirds of our planned 2,000 grid extension kilometres were approved, under construction or already completed,” comments Dr. Kleinekorte.

In order to prepare the transmission system for future requirements, Amprion banks on innovative projects and solutions, such as the Belgian-German interconnector ALEGrO, or the exploration of new drilling methods for the trenchless laying of underground cables (E-Power Pipe). However, the TSO’s efforts are not confined to aspects of grid expansion. “We must continue to develop our energy system as a whole,” said Dr. Brick. “We need more transparency, flexibility and a genuine integration of renewable energies into the market so that we can reduce costs.” As far as the Amprion’s economic performance in 2016 is concerned, Dr. Brick was able to report an increase of sales revenues to €2.2bn (€1.9bn in 2015). Profits decreased by 7.6 percent to €158m (€171m in 2015), mainly due to a necessary workforce expansion. Another reason was the inevitable performance of expensive grid stabilisation measures this winter.

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

Picture: Amprion / Lutz Kampert


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