Challenges of the green transition in Denmark

05.11.2020

In Denmark, as in Europe in general, the energy transition presents new and challenging tasks for the players in the energy sector. To improve the information basis and to prepare adequately for these challenges, TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), has created two reports on long-term development needs in the Danish energy system. There are two reports, as Energinet is not only the national TSO for electricity, but also for gas.

The forecasts in “Long-term Development Needs in the Power Grid” are similar to those of other European TSOs and allow similar conclusions. Not surprisingly, Denmark, as a world leader in renewable energy, needs to make even greater efforts to integrate these amounts of energy from renewable sources. In concrete terms, the TSO expects that by 2040 the maximum generation of wind turbines and solar cells could increase from 7.4GW today to perhaps 26GW. Such a tripling or quadrupling will cause problems for the current high-voltage grid, which is not designed to transmit such large amounts of energy.

Some challenges may not be due for 10-20 years, but others are already on the doorstep. In some places in Denmark, large-scale local production from wind and solar energy is already putting a considerable strain on the power grid. Hanne Storm Edlefsen, Head of the Strategic Planning division in Energinet Elsystemansvar, the TSO’s electricity system operator branch, emphasises the need for cooperation at all economic, political, and social levels to make the green transition a success and, for example, to ensure that “a doubling of electricity demand does not mean twice as many power pylons and overhead lines”.

The analyses show, among other things, the locations in Denmark where high-voltage grid extensions are required, either as underground cables or overhead lines. However, Edlefsen also points to other solution approaches beyond mere expansion: The proper placement of wind farms or large photovoltaic systems can reduce the need for grid reinforcement. And electrolysis plants of the future, which convert green electricity into hydrogen and other green fuels, could be located close to major green generation units so that electricity need not be transported across the country.

Energinet has presented two reports on the Danish long-term development needs in the power grid and in the gas system (picture: Energinet)

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> See Energinet press release (html)
>Open report on needs in the power grid (pdf, 7.42MB)

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Middle Axis increases capacity sevenfold

27.10.2020

Since the 60s of the 20th century, a 220kV overhead line has been in operation between Hamburg and Denmark, thus crossing Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost of the German federal states, in its entirety. Schleswig-Holstein is a true “wind power state” in terms of generation, but consumes very little energy in comparison to the southern and western German states. The green electricity produced here therefore has to be transmitted to the centres of consumption. As a result of the energy transition with increasing shares of wind energy, the capacity of the old line has long since been insufficient, resulting in grid bottlenecks. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT, whose control area includes the state between the North and the Baltic Sea, thus has replaced the old line with a new 380kV line capable of transmitting seven times as much green electricity.

The new overhead line is called Middle Axis (“Mittelachse”), as it is flanked by two other line projects of the TSCNET shareholder, the East-Coast-Line and the West-Coast-Line. On the Danish side of the border, the Danish TSCNET customer Energinet continues the Middle Axis from Frøslev to the Kassø substation, thereby increasing the electricity trading capacity between Denmark and Germany. On 21 October, TenneT put officially into operation the two northern sections of the Middle Axis between the Audorf substation near Rendsburg and the border with Denmark. With a symbolic push of a button at the substation Handewitt near Flensburg, Thomas Bareiß, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Jan Philipp Albrecht, Minister of Energy, Agriculture, the Environment, Nature and Digitalisation of Schleswig-Holstein, Henrik Riis, CEO of Energinet-Eltransmission, and TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens connected the new 82 kilometres long power line to the grid.

The southern section of the Middle Axis from Hamburg/North to Audorf with a length of 70 kilometres was commissioned by TenneT in early 2018. Since 2015, a total of 388 new pylons have been erected along 152 kilometres between Hamburg/North and the border with Denmark, including the required substations Audorf/South, Schuby/West and Handewitt. The extension of the line by Energinet across the border by 30 kilometres into the Danish grid area increases security of supply for both the German and Danish electricity markets and enables the exchange of renewable energy between the two countries.

Tim Meyerjürgens explained: “With the 82 kilometres from Audorf to the Danish border, we are completing the important Middle Axis in the energy transition region of Schleswig-Holstein for the transmission of electricity from renewable sources between the river Elbe and Denmark.” Henrik Riis added: “The Middle Axis is a tremendous success, and it provides a new, continuous electricity highway that runs all the way from Denmark to Hamburg and on to Lower Saxony across the river Elbe. A strong cross-border infrastructure and well-functioning energy markets are essential for all of us – both at national and European level – to shape a future with high security of supply, large amounts of renewable energy and an efficient green energy transition.”

TenneT and Energinet commissioned the northern section of the Middle Axis, a new 380kV line from Denmark to Hamburg (picture showing from right to left Thomas Bareiß, Henrik Riis, Tim Meyerjürgens and Philipp Albrecht at the far left: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Combined Grid Solution inaugurated

20.10.2020

On 20 October, the world’s first hybrid offshore interconnector was ceremoniously put into operation: the Danish-German Combined Grid Solution (CGS). This interconnector in the Baltic Sea links the transmission grids of two countries via national offshore wind farm grid connections. For this purpose, two submarine cables with a length of merely 25 kilometres and a capacity of approx. 200MW each were laid between the offshore transformer platforms of the German wind farm Baltic 2 and the Kriegers Flak wind farm in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea, which is currently under construction. The CGS – a joint project of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and TSCNET customer Energinet, the TSO from Denmark – thus not only connects the platforms with each other but also the existing onshore connections of the wind farms. This allows the transmission of offshore wind power to Denmark or Germany and also cross-border electricity trading.

The official opening ceremony, which took place on site in the German capital of Berlin as well as digitally, was attended by Peter Altmaier, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Dan Jørgensen, the Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, as well as Kadri Simson, EU Commissioner for Energy. With their appearance, these high-ranking political representatives acknowledged the CGS as a technical innovation with model character for future offshore power grids. The hybrid nature of CGS is that it is the first electricity interconnector between two countries, that not only provides capacity for electricity trading, but also transports offshore wind energy onshore – in both directions. The costs of the binational EU-funded project amount to around €300m.

A technical obstacle had to be solved in the realisation of CGS: Because the transmission grids in eastern Denmark and Germany do not operate synchronously, it was necessary to install a back-to-back converter at the 50Hertz substation in Bentwisch near the port city of Rostock in the federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The device converts the incoming AC into DC and immediately back. Only in this way is it possible for electricity to flow smoothly from Denmark to Germany and vice versa. But CGS has not only hardware but also software components. The central digital control unit of the system is the Master Controller for Interconnector Operation (MIO), located in the 50Hertz control centre near Berlin. The MIO balances market requirements with offshore electricity production, which depends on wind conditions in the Baltic Sea. Its main function is to ensure optimum use of the CGS while preventing any overload of the line and the operating facilities in the substation.

Stefan Kapferer, CEO of 50Hertz, commented at the inauguration: “With this project, 50Hertz and Energinet are pioneering the efficient integration of offshore wind farms into the cross-border European electricity market. It offers us several effective options to balance the frequency and voltage of our transmission grids at all times, to deal with the integration of renewable energy sources with more flexibility and to increase the stability of the overall system.” Thomas Egebo, CEO of Energinet, added: “The CGS is not only a very important milestone in reaching Denmark’s ambitious goal of a 100 percent green power system in 2030. The groundbreaking project also delivers an important building block for decarbonising the rest of the society.”

The Danish-German Combined Grid Solution has been ceremoniously put into operation (illustration uses photos of 50Hertz, one of which shows Minister Altmeier)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> See Energinet news release (html)
> Watch CGS inauguration film (YouTube)

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High supply security and high share of renewables in Denmark

16.09.2020

Denmark is a world leader in the supply of electricity from renewable sources. 2019 is yet another record year in this respect, according to the annual statement on the security of electricity supply presented by TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO). The availability rate of electricity of 99.996% of the time, which the report reveals, is already impressive, but so is the share of renewables in the Danish electricity grid, which reached 50% last year.

The integration of such extensive and increasing wind and solar energy capacities, more electricity interconnectors, or the harmonisation of markets and grid operation through EC regulations – all these have an impact on the Danish security of supply. Therefore, the high level is not a sure-fire success and, according to Energinet’s CEO Søren Dupont Kristensen, is due to the TSO’s immense efforts: “In the last decade, we have taken enormous steps in the energy transition. For example, wind and sun accounted for less than 20% of electricity in Denmark in those days, whereas today it accounts for over 50%. At the same time, we still have a remarkably high level of supply security. However, this continued high level of supply security does not come by itself, which is why we are paying close attention to the challenges that an ageing electricity grid poses, including an increasing risk of power shortage.”

For 2030, Denmark has set a target of 100% electricity from renewables with a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions. This can only be achieved with a comprehensive sector coupling, as Energinet declares – and, because of the increasingly decentralised electricity generation, through consistent and adequate expansion of the electricity grids. Søren Dupont Kristensen assures that Energinet will take all measures to maintain Danish security of supply at a comparable high level over the next ten years.

Energinet has presented its statement on the Danish security of electricity supply in 2019 (picture: Pixabay)

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> See Energinet press release, in Danish (html)

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Nordic Power Solutions Report

29.04.2020

The Nordic transmission system operator (TSOs) of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Danish TSCNET customer Energinet have updated their 2018 report “Solutions for a changing Nordic power system”. The Solutions Report 2020 provides an overview of the joint Nordic TSO projects that have been identified as crucial to address the challenges in the Nordic energy system.

As in the rest of Europe, the Nordic power system is undergoing the most significant changes since the liberalisation of the electricity markets, and here, too, these changes are mainly based on a new power generation mix with volatile generation and distributed resources. The Power Solutions Report 2020 draws a common picture of the progress of the new solutions in the Nordic power system that respond to these changes. In addition to reporting on the projects, the report also features comments from stakeholders on the tasks and the challenges they still see in the Nordic power grid.

Energinet and the other Nordic TSOs have published their joint Nordic Power Solutions Report 2020 (picture: Bo Kamstrup, Pixabay)

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> See Energinet press release (html)
> Open Nordic Power Solutions Report (pdf, 10.62MB)

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Launch of the Equigy balancing platform

25.04.2020

To ensure the stability of the grid frequency, transmission system operators (TSOs) all over Europe respond to the increasingly volatile generation of energy from renewable sources and to the loss of reactive power from large power plants. The challenge of keeping production and consumption in balance does not stop at national borders, for which reason the TSCNET shareholders Swissgrid, the TSO from Switzerland, and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, are cooperating with the Italian TSO Terna in the crowd balancing platform Equigy. The platform is based on blockchain technology and the internet of things. It is conceived as digital link between the so-called TSO ancillary service markets and the market players that deliver balancing services. TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish TSO, has formally expressed its intention to join the consortium, which would extend Equigy’s roll-out to Denmark.

With their cross-border cooperation, the consortium of Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna wants to set a new electricity-balancing standard, improve the integration of renewables, and provide more flexibility to reduce the renewables’ random impact on the grid. As with previous, regionally limited balancing projects, Equigy aims to unlock flexibility by actively involving small and distributed consumer-based generation and consumption units in grid stabilisation. This involvement enables owners of small-scale assets to play a key role in the transformation of the energy sector by optimising their interaction with the grid. Since Equigy processes multiple small transactions, it requires a secure and scalable solution that ensures trust and transparency between all parties involved. The common vision of the participating TSOs is clear: Millions of households will stabilise the electricity grid in the future.

Open and free of charge
Equigy is based on block chain technology to execute transactions from millions of individual systems securely, cost-effectively, and transparently. This creates a single, immutable, and secure data source from which all parties can benefit. Precise rules and regulations allow consumers, businesses, and manufacturers to easily market the flexible capacity of electric vehicles, household batteries, and heat pumps in all participating countries, regardless of location, thereby simplifying access to the electricity market. At the same time, all local or regional flexibility platforms can be connected to the Equigy platform so that as much flexibility as possible can be bundled. This means: Equigy is not exclusive and can be integrated into existing grid stabilisation processes. The technology and software are open-source and provided free of charge to promote the development of secondary applications in the energy value chain. Equigy has now been successfully launched, and the pilot project to test the technology will run until the end of 2020.

In Switzerland, the project has attracted a lot of interest. Numerous partners have expressed an interest in participating. Yves Zumwald, CEO of Swissgrid, comments: “We are proud to be a founding partner of Equigy. It’s only natural that this ambitious initiative is being driven by TSOs. We are not subject to commercial constraints and are able to operate the new platform adopting a neutral position.” Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, can also be pleased to have various Equigy partners in Germany and the Netherlands. She emphasises the European dimension of the project: “Equigy originated from European cooperation. In a common European market, we will have to develop solutions together. We already have the same sockets. It would be a shame and unnecessarily expensive to develop different systems.”

Expansion to the north
The Danish TSO Energinet recognises the potential of Equigy and is highly interested in participating. The consortium behind Equigy appreciates this interest. Swissgrid, TenneT, Terna, and Energinet have thus signed a Letter of Intent in which the parties confirm their common interest in including Energinet in Equigy. Energinet will now examine the possibilities of becoming part of the cooperation. All partners aim to take a decision on Energinet’s accession before the end of this year. Søren Dupont Kristensen, CEO of Energinet Electricity System Operator, explains: “We are now investigating the potential of this platform in the context of the Danish energy system. Based on our findings, we will decide on joining the collaboration regarding the platform.”

The blockchain based crowd balancing platform Equigy has been launched by Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna

Linkup
> See Energinet news release (html)
> See Swissgrid news release (html)
> See TenneT news release (html)
> Visit Equigy website (html)

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Corona cuts consumption

26.03.2020

Electricity consumption in Europe has fallen significantly because of the restrictions imposed by the corona crisis. In particular, the drastic reduction in industrial production is likely to have a significant impact. The London-based think tank Ember has calculated that demand in the entire EU has fallen by 2 to 7% in the last week compared to the previous week. The analysts at Ember used data on electricity demand provided by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), adjusted for the weather-related factor.

A survey of 22 individual countries shows that Italy, France, and Spain are the most affected countries. In these countries, the decline in demand was twice as strong as in other countries. In Italy, which is currently most afflicted by the corona pandemic, electricity consumption fell by 20% within two weeks. TSCNET shareholder APG, the transmission system operator (TSO) from Austria, also reports that consumption data in some specific Austrian grid areas are 10 to 20% below the previous year’s figures. The national average is 10%, which according to Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG, reflects the pan-European development.

Like all European TSOs, APG is confronted with major challenges, but considers that it is well prepared for the crisis, both technically and in terms of personnel. Of course, each individual TSO has to adapt its operations and measures to the conditions under the pandemic. TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish TSO, for instance, has introduced special guidelines to avoid physical contact on its construction sites. Notwithstanding that a functioning transmission system is essential for modern life at all times, Henrik Riis, CEO of Electricity Transmission at Energinet, calls it “an important social task to keep the wheels turning and do our part to support the Danish economy.” However, this task is performed with all due care: “We take the risk on spreading of infectious disease very seriously.”

While the specialists from the TSOs and from TSCNET Services are on duty around the clock, many shops and production sites in Europe have to remain closed due to the corona pandemic

Linkup
> See Ember research on reduced electricity demand (html)
> See APG news release, in German (html)
> See Energinet news release (html)

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COBRAcable proves to be a great success

06.03.2020

It is now half a year since TSCNET customer Energinet, the transmission system operator (TSO) from Denmark, and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, made COBRAcable available to the market. The high-voltage DC cable with a length of about 325km and a capacity of 700MW is the first direct connection between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands. The basic idea behind COBRAcable is to compensate for the volatility of wind power. Consequently, the Netherlands imports electricity via the cable on days with large Danish wind power generation, while on days with little wind in Denmark the electricity is transported in the opposite direction.

This works perfectly, as the interconnector’s transmission data from the first six-month period prove: In total, Denmark has imported almost 700GWh via the COBRAcable and the Netherlands almost 1,400GWh. On average, COBRAcable was operated at full capacity 79% of the time during the last half year. The impressive traffic on this binational connection proves its adequacy through its operation. The new interconnector therefore substantially contributes to the energy transition by exchanging volatile renewable energy across borders and additionally creates a trading profit on the spot market for electricity – a multiple benefit for nature, society and the companies involved.

The transmission data from the COBRAcable of Energinet and TenneT confirm a high level of traffic on the line (picture: screenshot taken from Energinet-video “Constructing the green COBRAcable”, Vimeo)

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> See Energinet press release (html)

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Onshore converter for the Combined Grid Solution

31.01.2020

The Danish-German Combined Grid Solution (CGS) in the Baltic Sea is the world’s first offshore interconnector to use national grid connections of offshore wind farms to link the transmission systems of two countries. For this purpose, submarine cables were laid between the offshore transformer stations of the German wind farm Baltic 2 and the Kriegers Flak wind farm in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea. The CGS is a joint project of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and TSCNET customer Energinet, the TSO from Denmark.

The Bentwisch substation near the Baltic port city of Rostock houses the German onshore converters for the CGS. Here 50Hertz has installed a double converter system including a back-to-back converter. This is essential for balancing the asynchronous transmission systems of Germany and Eastern Denmark: The AC from the Nordic synchronous area is converted into DC and directly back into AC, now adapted to the European synchronous area.

50Hertz has now successively energised and commissioned all converter components in Bentwisch. The new equipment and further extensions of the substation had to be individually synchronised with the control technology in a series of individual testing and commissioning steps. The operational readiness of the double converter system in Bentwisch marks another important milestone on the way to the commissioning of the entire CGS.

The German onshore converter for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution has been commissioned by 50Hertz (picture: Jan Pauls / 50Hertz)

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> See 50Hertz project news (html)

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RSC Conference 2019: Rush to Copenhagen

08.10.2019

The weather turned out typically Nordic with quite stormy wind and some rain, but otherwise host Nordic RSC could be more than happy about a great success and a fruitful gathering of our industry – about 250 participants from all over Europe came to the third “RSC Conference” today in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. The event was staged by Nordic RSC at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located in the Copenhagen Towers, which also house the offices of the Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) of the power transmission system operators (TSOs) of Denmark (TSCNET shareholder Energinet), Finland (Fingrid), Norway (Statnett), and Sweden (Svenska Kraftnät).

One of the key sentences fell quite early: “Nobody knows the future, but it will be electric!” In the European energy system that is already interconnected and will become even more so in future, coordination of cross-border electricity flows is one of the most crucial tasks for TSOs. To a large extent, this task is performed by Europe’s RSCs, with Coreso (based in Brussels) and TSCNET Services (Munich) as pioneers from 2013 onwards. In 2015, SCC for south eastern Europe followed in Belgrade and in 2016, Baltic RSC as well as Nordic RSC were established.

A good idea becomes a tradition
The RSCs have been holding conferences on system security since 2017, co-organised by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E). TSCNET hosted the first RSC conference entitled “ElSeC” (Electricity Security Coordination) in Munich and one year later Coreso invited to “Power Coordination Europe” in Brussels.

The motto of “RSC 2019” was “Act locally, coordinate regionally, think European”. The event resulted in a closing speech by the CEO of the Finnish TSO Fingrid, Jukka Ruusunen, discussing how RSCs support efficient markets that in turn support security of supply. This core discussion was complemented by other general panel discussions and also by parallel, partly interactive sessions to cover as many interesting and relevant topics as possible. The topics were, for instance, “The Green Transition: The reason for change and innovation in TSOs”, “Ensuring the right competences in an RSC perspective”, “Critical Grid Situation Communication”, “Regional adequacy forecasting” or “Balancing projects and reserve sizing”. The key speakers came from the industry, EU institutions, markets and civil society.

Thomas Egebo, CEO of TSCNET shareholder Energinet, the Danish TSO, welcomed the participants and illustrated the importance of the regions using the example of the Nordic region. The ENTSO-E strategy paper on “Enhanced TSO coordination for Europe” was presented by Joachim Vanzetta, Director System Control at the German TSO and TSCNET shareholder Amprion and Chair of the ENTSO-E Board. Eryk Kłossowski, CEO of the Polish TSO PSE, and Ben Voorhorst, COO of the Dutch-German TSO TenneT – both are TSCNET shareholders – participated together with colleagues from further TSOs in the general discussion: “TSO regional cooperation and establishment of RCCs – learning from best practices”. This discussion was moderated by Laurent Schmitt, the Secretary-General of ENTSO-E.

Increasingly complex with rapidly rising requirements
Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, held a presentation on “RSC complexities and future challenges”, focusing on the intricacy of the challenges faced by RSCs in the continuous implementation of services, in RSC collaboration and in the adaptation and integration of requirements from the EU “Clean Energy for all Europeans Package” (CEP).

On the conference website, all speeches and discussions were broadcast via live stream. Soon all presentations will be available for download as well as numerous photos from the event. All good things come in threes, as the saying goes. The third edition of the RSC Conference was indeed great, but we are all the more looking forward to next year.

Around 250 participants attended this year’s RSC Conference on 8 October in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen

Linkup
> Visit RSC Conference 2019 webpage, with videos (html)
> See conference picture gallery (Flickr, html)

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