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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Successful test for the Combined Grid Solution

09.11.2018

The Combined Grid Solution is a joint offshore connection project by the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and the Danish TSO Energinet. The binational interconnector in the Baltic Sea will integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany by linking the German wind farm Baltic 2 to the Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak. The utilisation of grid connections from offshore wind farms to couple the transmission grids of two countries is nothing less than a world premiere.

The laying of the two submarine cables “150kV-line KFE-BaZ 155“ and “150kV-line KFE-BaZ 156“ was completed at the beginning of July and the two TSOs have now successfully conducted 24-hour testing of both cables. Around noon on 6 November and in the afternoon thereafter, the two cables were energised one after the other up to the disconnector on the offshore substation OSS KFE and now are ready to transport electricity. Sebastian Wagner, Sub-Project Manager Sea cables at 50Hertz, and Energinet’s Project Manager Daniel Johan Brøndum jointly declared: “Everyone in the team worked closely together and delivered to-the-point. We are very happy and celebrate this success together.”

The submarine cables for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution of 50Hertz and Energinet were successfully tested (illustration based on pictures of 50Hertz / Sebastian Wagner)

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Danish security of supply among the best

09.07.2018

An availability rate of electricity of 99.995% of the time in 2017 is quite impressive, and the Danish TSCNET shareholder Energinet is the transmission system operator (TSO) presenting this outstanding value in its “Security of electricity supply report 2018”. With this remarkable confirmation of last year’s result (99.996%), Denmark is again among the leading European countries. According to Energinet, the excellent security value is partly due to the high level of underground cabling in Denmark.

The key features of today’s energy landscape ‒ such as the integration of extensive and increasing wind and solar power capacities, more electricity interconnectors between different countries, or the harmonisation of markets and grid operation via EC regulations ‒ all affect the Danish supply security, which is no longer a national, but a regional issue. Energinet is aware of the new challenges and will adress these with operational and infrastructural measures, but also with the introduction of market reforms to increase the flexibility of both, generation and consumption.

TSCNET shareholder Energinet, the Danish TSO, presents impressive figures in its Security of electricity supply report 2018.

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Combined Grid Solution: submarine cable installed

06.07.2018

In early May, all of the three offshore platforms for the planned Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak in the Baltic Sea were successfully installed. One of them will not only collect wind power, but also function as linking point for the Combined Grid Solution, the first Danish-German offshore interconnector. The Combined Grid Solution is a joint venture of two TSCNET shareholders, 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and the Danish TSO Energinet.

Just two months later, 50Hertz announces that the next significant step for the project has been taken. The Combined Grid Solution will integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany by linking the German wind farm Baltic 2 with 25 kilometres of submarine cables to Kriegers Flak. Now both cables of the interconnector have been laid out completely. The Baltic 2 platform was the starting point for the cable laying, and on 5 July, the Kriegers Flak platform was reached.

Elke Kwapis, project manager at 50Hertz, acknowledges the good cooperation with Energinet in this process and states: “These are great news. In the business everybody knows how complex the installation of submarine cables can become.” Especially in this case, it was even more challenging than usual, because the Baltic 2 platform was constantly in operation during the cable laying.

The submarine cables for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution of the TSOs 50Hertz and Energinet have been laid out. Picture: Screenshot taken from video “Combined Grid Solution (CGS) by 50Hertz and Energinet“ (50Hertz, YouTube)

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CGS onshore transformers on site

03.06.2018

The Bentwisch substation near the city of Rostock in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania is the future onshore converter station for the Combined Grid Solution, the first Danish-German offshore interconnector. The project is a joint venture of two TSCNET shareholders: 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and Energinet, the Danish TSO. The Combined Grid solution integrates the electricity markets of Denmark and Germany by linking the Danish Kriegers Flak wind farm with its German counterpart, Baltic 2. Now another significant step for the interconnector has been taken, as two transformers have been supplied to Bentwisch.

In combination with a double converter system, the large-scale equipment is essential for balancing the asynchronous transmission systems of Germany and Denmark. The transformers were transported from Rostock harbour to the substation per heavy-duty road transport. The second arrived in Bentwisch on the night of 29 to 30 May, and the first three weeks before. “We have thus reached another milestone on the way to commissioning the Combined Grid Solution. The transformers are the most important technical components for the back-to-back system on site,” comments Martin Henschel, specialist engineer at the 50Hertz Northern Regional Centre.

> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)

Picture: visavis Filmproduktion GmbH

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Cooperation for the green and digital transition

25.05.2018

The European energy landscape is changing constantly and fast, and there are two main factors that radically influence the conditions for the players in the energy market: the energy transition and the digital revolution. New digital developments offer great opportunities for companies from the energy sector to closer cooperate with companies outside the sector’s traditional value chain in order to realise a smart and efficient green and digital transition. Modesty and professional ambition should balance each other in this challenging field of work, or in the words of Thomas Egebo, CEO at TSCNET shareholder Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO): “We don’t have all the answers, but we would like to be part of the solution.”

On behalf of Energinet and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), Thomas Egebo was the host of the Digital Round Table on 24 May in the Danish Capital of Copenhagen. High-level representatives from Microsoft, GE Power, Renault, Envision ‒ China’s second-largest wind turbine company ‒ and other international companies and organisations attended the event to discuss the impact of new technologies and digitalisation on the energy sector and the possibilities for new partnerships between companies from the traditional energy sector and other companies.

Many of the prospective solutions are still unknown to us today, but it is certain that data is essential for the energy future. Energinet wants to be a catalyst in this area to help market participants create products of the future. Thomas Egebo explained that a TSO such as Energinet can supply production data and information about the state of the network to businesses and consumption data to individual consumers. “Data is something that everyone can tap into, as well as a crucial element of the new business models, in which consumers can make a real difference in contributing to the integration of renewable energy,” commented Mr Egebo.

> See Energinet press release (html)
> Visit Energinet event website (html)

Picture: Digital Round Table by Energinet

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North Sea Wind Power Hub presentation

25.05.2018

The road to a sustainable low-carbon energy future cannot be successfully pursued without ambitious and courageous lighthouse projects. With a fundamentally original concept of combining wind energy production, storage and transmission with a multinational interconnector, the North Sea Wind Power Hub vision definitely falls into that category. The hub concept comprises one or more so-called Power Link Islands which are built in shallow North Sea waters with ideal wind conditions and connected to multiple offshore wind facilities. The vision also includes power to gas technologies in the form of gas-based transmission and storage solutions. Such islands facilitate the distribution and transmission of wind power and may additionally serve to interconnect the transmission systems of the North Sea neighbouring states.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub was originally conceived by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The Hub consortium by now also consists of Danish TSO Energinet, another TSCNET shareholder, the Dutch natural gas infrastructure and transmission company Gasunie and the Port of Rotterdam. The Clean Energy Ministerial ‒ part of this year’s Nordic Clean Energy Week in Copenhagen and Malmö ‒ provided a welcome opportunity to showcase the North Sea Wind Power Hub in front of a considerable number of Energy Ministers from most of the largest economies in the world, as well as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and The Netherlands.

Lars Barfoed, Chairman of the Board of Energinet, took over the presentation on behalf of the consortium. Mr Barfoed identified the shared vision of new energy highways and trade corridors between the North Sea riparians as “bold, but simple”. Instead of individual national offshore connections for the integration of ever increasing offshore wind energy, an internationally coordinated hub concept would be much more efficient, also in economic terms. Of course, the vison requires sustainable political support and cooperation at the international level. “We need to focus more on the whole picture,” explains Mr Barfoed. “If a wind power hub in the North Sea is to move from vision to reality, whatever its technical and economic potential, it requires massive political support from a large number of participating countries.”

> See Energinet press release (html)
> See TenneT press release (html)
> Visit North Sea Wind Power Hub website (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “North Sea Wind Power Hub vision” (North Sea Wind Power Hub Consortium, YouTube)

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Platforms for Combined Grid Solution installed

08.05.2018

The installation of all three offshore platforms for the planned Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak in the Baltic Sea has successfully been completed on 7 May. A special heavy duty crane vessel was needed as the platforms weigh 800, 1,500 and 1,800 tonnes, respectively. The platforms will not only collect the electricity from Kriegers Flak, but one of them will also be used for the Combined Grid Solution, the first Danish-German offshore interconnetor, which is a joint venture of the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and Energinet, the Danish TSO.

The Combined Grid Solution will link Kriegers Flak to the German wind farm Baltic 2 and thus integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany. According to Jens Christian Hygebjerg, project manager at Energinet, the platform installation was the “most costly risk” of the whole project. “It is therefore a great relief to see all three platforms in their rightful place.” The platforms are scheduled to be put into operation in October 2018, but only after an intensive phase of further assembly work and a series of tests under real-life conditions.

> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> See Energinet press release (html)

Picture: Jakob Fynsk / Energinet

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