COBRAcable market launch on 7 September

02.09.2019

After three years of construction, including the laying of the submarine cables as well as the construction of two onshore converter stations, and a successful test phase earlier this year, COBRAcable will be available for the electricity market as of the delivery day of 7 September, which is exactly on schedule. The first direct connection between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands was jointly realised and is operated by the two TSCNET shareholders Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO.

The high-voltage DC cable with a length of about 325km has a capacity of 700MW. The Netherlands can import more sustainable electricity from Denmark through COBRAcable, mainly wind energy. In addition, the cable provides Dutch capacity on a structural basis for the Danish electricity grid, thus ensuring security of supply in Denmark, which of course also works the other way round. Moreover, the cable connection is designed in such a way that an offshore wind farm can be connected at a later date, so that COBRAcable contributes to a sustainable European energy landscape.

The COBRAcable interconnector of Energinet and Tennet is available to the market from 7 September (picture: screenshot taken from TenneT-video “First pile COBRAcable”, YouTube)

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Nordic TSOs present new development plan

26.08.2019

The four Nordic transmission system operators (TSOs), which include the the Danish TSO and TSCNET shareholder Energinet, Fingrid from Finland, Statnett from Norway, and Svenska kraftnät from Sweden, have published the new edition of the biennial Nordic Grid Development Plan. The four TSOs will continue to intensify their cooperation work in the future and shape it even more comprehensively.

It is planned to significantly expand the transmission grid. The main reasons for this are increased volatility due to the massive increase in renewable electricity generation, the decommissioning of fossil fuel facilities, the growth in consumption from increasing electrification and new industries, aging equipment and the need for reinvestment in existing grid assets, and the decommissioning of nuclear power plants in Sweden. The capacity for the import and export of electricity between the Nordic states and continental Europe is also to be substantially increased with several interconnectors. At the same time, several measures are being developed to make electricity markets and grid operations more effective.

The four Nordic TSOs have published the biennial Nordic Grid Development Plan (picture: Fingrid)

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RSC conference 2019 in Copenhagen

11.07.2019

To speak of a tradition may be somewhat exaggerated in view of the third Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) Conference, but nevertheless the annual meetings on European transmission security coordination are already considered a significant contribution to the overall system security on the continent. TSCNET Services, the Munich-based RSC, had the honour of hosting the first RSC conference called “ElSeC” (Electricity Security Coordination) in 2017. In 2018, the baton was passed on to the Belgian RSC Coreso, which organised “Power Coordination Europe” in Brussels.

This year, the colleagues of Nordic RSC invite you to Copenhagen to the RSC Conference 2019, which has the motto: “Act locally, coordinate regionally, think European”. The event takes place on 8 October at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Copenhagen, which is in the same building that also houses Nordic RSC’s offices, the Copenhagen Towers. “RSC 2019” is co-organised by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) with the other four European RSCs – Baltic RSC, Coreso, SCC, and TSCNET Services – functioning as co-hosts. Registration for the RSC Conference 2019 is now open!

Since as many interesting and relevant topics as possible should be dealt with, there are parallel sessions in addition to the general panel discussions. The topics address concrete action perspectives for transmission system operators (TSOs) and RSCs as well as broader issues of security coordination in Europe, such as: “The Green Transition: The reason for change and innovation in TSOs”, “Enhanced TSO coordination for Europe”, “Ensuring the right competences in an RSC perspective”, “Critical Grid Situation Communication” or “Efficient markets support operational security”.

Among the speakers are Joachim Vanzetta, Director System Control at the German TSO and TSCNET shareholder Amprion, and Laurent Schmitt, Secretary General of ENTSO-E. Maik Neubauer, one of the two managing directors of TSCNET Services, will talk about “RSC Complexities and Future Challenges”, i.e. the complex challenges faced by RSCs in the ongoing implementation of services, in cooperation between the different RSCs and in adapting and integrating changes from the EU “Clean Energy for all Europeans Package”.

The RSC Conference 2019 on electricity security coordination takes place on 8 October 2019 in Copenhagen (picture: varsbergsrolands/pixabay)

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TSO offshore connections are most cost-effective

26.06.2019

In most European countries with offshore wind farms, the respective transmission system operators (TSOs) are responsible for connecting these offshore facilities to the onshore grid, which they also operate. The TSCNET shareholders affected by this arrangement include the north-eastern German TSO 50Hertz, the Danish TSO Energinet and the Dutch-German TSO TenneT. But obviously this handling is not the only one possible. In the UK, for instance, the developer of the particular offshore wind farm is also responsible for its grid connection.

In concrete terms, this means that in the UK the offshore grid connection after its completion is sold to commercial investors and a so-called OFTO (Offshore Transport Owner) is established. But which model, the TSO model or the OFTO model, causes the lowest costs for consumers and thus for society?

The internationally accredited registrar and the world’s largest classification society, DNV GL, has investigated this question in more detail. The main outcomes of this study are that in the OFTO system the costs for the development of offshore connections are significantly higher than in Denmark and the Netherlands. In contrast, the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) of the Dutch and Danish offshore connections is significantly lower. The LCOE assesses the average total cost of constructing and operating an energy generating asset over its lifetime divided by its total energy output over that lifetime.

DNV GL has documented lower costs for the TSO connection of offshore wind farms than for the OFTO solution (illustration of Borssele Alpha: TenneT)

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Imminent test operation for COBRAcable

24.06.2019

COBRAcable, the first direct interconnection between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands, is a joint project of the two TSCNET shareholders Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. Since spring, the partner TSOs have been preparing the commercial operation of COBRAcable. TenneT and Energinet have now launched an Urgent Market Messages (UMM) site for the commissioning of COBRAcable, which is scheduled to take place between 3 July 2019 and 6 September 2019.

A total of around 30 individual tests with different energy charges in the respective transport directions are planned. It is expected that the full capacity of COBRAcable will be available for the day ahead and intraday markets from 7 September. TenneT and Energinet then will offer financial transmission rights on COBRAcable at monthly and annual auctions. The first auction is expected to take place after a full month of stable operation, so probably the auction for November 2019, which will be held in October.

By promoting the exchange of surplus wind energy, COBRAcable will improve the cohesion of the European transmission system and the integration of the electricity market. It will also make a sustainable contribution to the low carbon energy future by allowing future offshore wind farms in the North Sea to be hooked up to the DC interconnector.

Energinet and Tennet will carry out individual tests of COBRAcable as of 3 July (picture: screenshot taken from TenneT video “COBRAcable Cable Pull Fano Denmark Film”, YouTube)

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> Visit REMIT UMM site (html)

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RGI Award for the Combined Grid Solution

24.05.2019

On 23 May, during the Energy Infrastructure Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) presented the “Good Practice of the Year” awards to the 2019 winners. RGI, an association of non-governmental organisations and transmission system operators (TSOs) from all over Europe, annually awards the “Good Practice of the Year” upon recommendation of a jury of experts since 2012. This year’s award in the category “Technological Innovation & System Integration” goes to the “Combined Grid Solution” (CGS), the world’s first hybrid interconnector by the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German TSOs, and Energinet, the TSO from Denmark.

The CGS is the first Danish-German offshore interconnector for which submarine cables have been laid between the offshore substations of the German wind farm Baltic 2 and the wind farm Kriegers Flak in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea. The renewable energy generated by the wind turbines has priority and can flow into both interconnected countries if needed. Free capacity can be used to exchange electricity between the Danish and German markets. The jury acclaimed the potential of the CGS “to be enormously consequential for the development of the North Sea and Baltic Sea resources, and its ambition of approaching 100% utilisation of the offshore grid assets”.

Elke Kwapis, Senior Project Manager Offshore at 50Hertz, acknowledged “the collaborative manner amongst all project team members from 50Hertz and Energinet” and commented: “The CGS is the first offshore hybrid interconnector that allows integrating high shares of renewables and at the same time maximising the use of existing infrastructure for offshore wind grid connection.” Per Obbekær, project manager at Energinet, stressed the climate-specific impact of the CGS and the acute need for action: “We need to push all the known technologies and constantly focus on being innovative in our approach to new technologies in order for us to reach our climate goals cross borders.”

By the way, this is not the first time that 50Hertz has received the prize. In 2017, the TSO was awarded in the category “Communication & Participation” for the “DialogMobil”, an information van that functions as a kind of mobile citizen’s office.

The Combined Grid Solution project of 50Hertz and Energinet receives the “Good Practice of the Year Award” from the RGI (picture: RGI)

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Energinet explores PtG potentials

22.05.2019

The generation of renewable energy is volatile and the storage of green electricity at times when production exceeds consumption is an ever-increasing challenge for energy market participants. Power to gas (PtG) technologies appear to be particularly effective in compensating for the weather-related volatility of the renewables. Since TSCNET shareholder Energinet is not only the Danish transmission system operator (TSO) for electricity, but also for gas, the company is ideally suited to profoundly evaluate the PtG potential. The Danish national energy goal is a 100% climate-neutral energy system by 2050, and PtG can play an important role in achieving it.

Energinet’s gas grid could be an essential tool for the transmission of solar and wind energy in Denmark’s energy system of the future, as the energy can be stored and transported in the gas pipelines with hydrogen as the energy carrier. To this end, the electricity is converted into hydrogen, which can then be mixed with natural gas. The TSO is currently testing how much hydrogen the gas grid can handle. The tests take place near the West Jutland town of Varde and are part of the “Hydrogen Injection in the Gas Grid” project, in which Energinet is cooperating with the Danish Gas Technology Centre and IRD Fuel Cells.

The gas in the pipelines near Varde is presently mixed with 12% hydrogen, the research target is 15%. At the beginning of the tests in summer 2017, it was only 2%, so the results are promising. „Using hydrogen as an energy carrier allows us to connect the electricity and gas sectors,“ explains Jesper Bruun, project manager at Energinet, and adds: „Once we are able to handle the hydrogen in the gas grid, we will have an extensive and efficient infrastructure in place for transport and storage.“

Energinet is exploring PtG technologies (picture: Energinet)

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Crossing the Kiel Canal

02.05.2019

The Kiel Canal (“Nord-Ostsee-Kanal” in German), a 95km long canal in the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, saves shipping industry an average of 460km by preventing it from going round the Jutland peninsula. In fact, the Kiel Canal (and not the Panama or Suez Canal, as one might think) is the busiest artificial waterway in the world. This makes it particularly challenging to cross the Kiel Canal with an overhead line, and the TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has to master this challenge for the construction of the so-called Middle Axis (“Mittelachse”).

A 220kV overhead line has been in operation between Hamburg and Denmark since 1971. TenneT is replacing this old line with a new 380kV line capable of transmitting seven times as much green electricity. This is necessary given that Schleswig-Holstein produces many times the amount of wind energy that can be consumed locally. New and more efficient lines must therefore be built to transport renewable energies from the land between the seas to the German consumption centres. The Middle Axis is thus not TenneT’s only local extension project and is supplemented by coastal lines (East-Coast-Line and West-Coast-Line respectively). On the Danish side of the border, the Danish TSCNET shareholder Energinet will continue the Middle Axis from Frøslev to the Kassø substation, thereby increasing the electricity trading capacity between Denmark and Germany.

Now TenneT’s work on the Middle Axis has progressed so far that the crossing of the Kiel Canal is on the agenda. Since more than a hundred ships pass through the canal every day, a closure is not acceptable. Because of this, detailed coordination, in particular with the responsible shipping authority, and the use of helicopters were required. On 2 May, TenneT began to fly the auxiliary ropes over the canal. These ropes are aids with which the actual conductor ropes can be installed later. The two pylons on each canal bank, which are connected by the helicopter flight, have a height of about 80m and are thus considerably higher than the other pylons of the Middle Axis.

TenneT is crossing the Kiel Canal with the Middle Axis power line (picture: screenshot from a video on the Twitter account of TenneT)

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Preparations for market inclusion of COBRAcable

15.03.2019

COBRAcable will be the first direct link between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands. It is a joint project of the two transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders Energinet from Denmark and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. By increasing the exchange of surplus wind energy, the DC interconnector is to improve the cohesion of the European transmission system and the integration of the electricity market. COBRAcable also makes a sustainable contribution to the low-carbon energy future by providing the opportunity to hook up future North Sea offshore wind farms to the connection. The entire cable route comprises 329km, of which 307km are offshore and 22km onshore. Since two cables are laid in parallel, the total length of the cables is 658km.

COBRAcable reached the Dutch shore at the Eemshaven connection point in November 2018 and will be commissioned this year. Now the two TSOs are preparing the commercial operation of COBRAcable scheduled for the third quarter of 2019. The concrete measures are the inclusion of COBRAcable in the day ahead and intraday market coupling systems on 16 April 2019 and in the market coupling results on the following day, each with an allocated capacity of zero. The objective of this is to test the relevant IT systems and prepare for a successful launch of commercial operations later in the year.

Energinet and Tennet carry out a test inclusion of COBRAcable in the market coupling (picture: screenshot taken from video “COBRAcable kommer i land ved Eemshaven”, Energinet – Vimeo)

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Agreement on minimum capacity at Danish-German border

25.01.2019

In July 2017, the Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate and the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy adopted a joint declaration on the increase of cross-border electricity trade between Western Denmark and Germany. The competent transmission system operators (TSOs), the TSCNET shareholders Energinet from Denmark and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, subsequently agreed to implement a joint countertrading programme. Energinet and TenneT have been meeting the requirements of the joint declaration since July 2017 and have since ensured minimum available hourly capacities for both directions at the border.

In addition, TenneT has committed itself to the European Commission (EC) in 2018 to further expand the coordinated trade programme and to implement the corresponding EC decision in cooperation with Energinet from January 2019. In order to better comply with TenneT’s additional obligations from the commitment, the two TSOs have now signed an extended agreement supporting TenneT in doing so.

Energinet and Tennet signed an extended agreement on guaranteeing minimum capacities for cross-border trade

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