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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> See Energinet press release (html)
> Visit REMIT UMM site (html)

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Laying of NordLink submarine cable near completion

20.06.2019

NordLink, the “green cable”, which for the first time will directly connect the electricity markets of Germany and Norway, has reached another important milestone. With the pull-in of the submarine cable beneath the dyke at Büsum in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein on 19 June, the 154-kilometre section from the cable landing point at the dyke through the Wadden Sea and the open sea to the Danish territorial waters is almost complete. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), which is cooperating with the Norwegian TSO Statnet on this European project of common interest (PCI), had started to install the submarine cables for NordLink in the German Bight last year.

“With today’s successful pulling of the subsea cable beneath the land protection dyke, we have practically completed the laying of the NordLink subsea cable,” comments TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens. Now the 54-kilometre onshore cable section will be successively laid from the dyke to the converter site in Wilster. Since the laying of the submarine cable in Danish and Norwegian waters is also almost concluded with only a few remaining works, and the construction of the 53km overhead line on the Norwegian mainland is progressing well, NordLink is expected to be commissioned as planned in 2020.

For the submarine cable work, TenneT was in close consultation with nature conservation authorities to ensure that operations in the Wadden Sea National Park were conducted as carefully as possible. Upon completion, the NordLink high-voltage DC interconnector will have a capacity of 1,400MW and a total length of 623km. By coupling different renewable energies and forms of storage – Norwegian hydropower plants with wind farms and solar parks from Germany – NordLink is a “green link” in the truest sense of the word.

TenneT has nearly completed the installation of the NordLink submarine cables (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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Tool for evaluating investments in storage facilities

19.06.2019

Wind and solar, the primary and volatile power sources of the energy transition, require more grid flexibility, which can be provided, for instance, by storage facilities. Energy storage technologies open opportunities for use in future energy markets and for a range of other system and grid-related purposes. For this reason, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is involved in many research initiatives on flexibility, e.g. to explore power-to-gas applications, electric vehicles and end-user participation in the energy system of the future.

TenneT has now introduced a new interactive assessment tool for storage investments, on which Tim Meyerjürgens, COO of TenneT, comments: “We want to support the electricity storage market. Storage facilities are an important source of flexibility for us to stabilise the grid. In the end, this can help to reduce the need for future grid extension.” Especially when it comes to questions concerning levies, charges or taxes as well as revenue opportunities, the TSO aims to assist market players and to create transparency.

This is why the tool, developed by TenneT in cooperation with Navigant Consulting, was specially designed for the economic evaluation of investments in grid-connected storage facilities. It compares technologies or types of financing and estimates maximum revenues based on an optimised use of storage units in different markets. The user can define individual key parameters or customise predefined projects to obtain a detailed breakdown of the results in terms of net present value and cash flow.

TenneT presents an interactive tool to evaluate investments in grid-connected storage facilities

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Visit site for free tool download with detailed instruction manual, in German (html)

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50Hertz yearbook shows top score in renewables

07.06.2019

In its Yearbook 2018, the TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz has compiled on 105 informative and concise pages everything worth knowing about last year’s key figures, activities, infrastructure developments, market assessments, sustainability objectives and much more. For the current report, the transmission system operator (TSO) from North-East Germany has chosen a heading that fits the company’s philosophy: “Setting the pace for a successful energy transition”.

An outstanding yearbook figure is the regenerative share of 56.5% with which 50Hertz has confirmed its pioneering role in the integration of renewable energies in Central Europe. A share of 65% by 2030, the official government target in Germany, is thus already within reach. For its low-carbon future goals, the TSO relies on innovative concepts such as the flexibility platform of the WindNODE project, a digital procurement system designed to reduce the throttling of wind turbines in the event of grid bottlenecks.

Sustainable action and social commitment are entrepreneurial principles for 50Hertz. To provide information on this, the Yearbook also contains a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report. The CSR Report complies with the strict sustainability reporting standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and is supplemented by the launch of the company’s own sustainability website.

50Hertz presents its Yearbook 2018 and launches CSR website (picture showing 50Hertz employees working at the Arkona offshore transformer station: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> Download 50Hertz Yearbook 2018, in German (pdf, 9.08MB)
> Visit the 50Hertz CSR website, in German (html)

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AI for decentralised grid stabilisation

06.06.2019

In a sustainable energy future, small decentralised plants such as combined heat and power (CHP) plants, heat pumps or biogas units must assume the role of stabilising the transmission system, a task which is nowadays mainly performed by large, centralised power plants. To investigate the technical feasibility of decentralised stabilisation options, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), the distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk and Consolinno Energy GmbH have now jointly carried out a successful test in the southern part of the TenneT control area, the German federal state of Bavaria.

Since there is a vital public interest in such future-oriented technological solutions, the test was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in the framework of the research project “C/Sells” which is part of the innovation programme “Smart Energy Showcases. Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition” (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie. Digitale Agenda für die Energiewende” – SINTEG). During the test, at the request of TenneT, the feed-in of a CHP plant controlled by Consolinno and connected to the low and medium-voltage grid of Bayernwerk was increased in order to provide the grid with the electricity required for stabilisation in the event of a bottleneck.

What is new is that each plant autonomously determines its flexibility potential through artificial intelligence (AI). The respective potential of the individual plants can then be further aggregated by means of swarm intelligence. The plants are in normal marketing and operation mode and report free flexibility quantities to the grid operators. “In Bavaria alone there are several thousand CHP plants, heat pumps and biogas facilities, nationwide there are many thousands more. They can increase the flexibility of the energy system and thus contribute to a safe and decentralised energy system in Bavaria and Germany. David can thus become Goliath,” comments Tim Meyerjürgens, COO at TenneT. Also in several other cooperative pilot projects, the TSO is exploring the potential of decentralised flexibility.

TenneT has carried out a successful test on the deployment of small decentralised plants for grid stabilisation

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

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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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> See Energinet press release (html)

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50Hertz committed to landscape protection

21.05.2019

In the Sülzetal, in the middle of the fertile Magdeburger Börde in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, there are salt marshes and meadows worthy of protection. Since two of the corridor alternatives for the supra-regional DC project “SuedOstLink” of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz run through the area of the Sülzetal, the German transmission system operator (TSO) is committed to ecological compensation. Therefore, 50Hertz cooperates with the “Stiftung Kulturlandschaft Sachsen-Anhalt”, a foundation supported by agricultural associations, to establish a comprehensive biotope network by enhancing and preserving ecologically valuable areas.

The foundation has set up an “eco-account”, and 50Hertz is the largest depositor to date. 50Hertz had already transferred €1m in 2017, and in 2020, the TSO will pay in a further €1.7m. The deposits can later be used for compensatory and replacement measures for the underground cables of the SuedOstLink, for example to create biodiverse habitats for animals and plants on uncultivated areas. SuedOstLink itself is a central component of the German energy transition, as it will ensure that large quantities of wind power are transmitted from the north-east of Germany to the south, where nuclear power plants will gradually be decommissioned.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Dalbert, Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister for the Environment, Agriculture and Energy, informed herself on 20 May about the ecological benefits of the cooperation and acknowledged the Sülzetal project as an example of how “valuable nature conservation measures can be implemented in connection with infrastructure projects”. Dr. Frank Golletz, Managing Director and CEO of 50Hertz, commented that the cooperation “shows that it is possible, on the one hand, to effectively compensate for interventions in nature and, at the same time, to create an attractive local recreation area for the people of the region in the immediate vicinity of the possible SuedOstLink routings”.

50Hertz cooperates with a foundation for landscape protection to establish a biotope network as compensation for SuedOstLink (picture: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls; from left to right: Dr. Frank Golletz, Prof. Dr. Claudia Dalbert, shepherd Jürgen Maurer, Dr. Jens Birger, Managing Director of the Stiftung Kulturlandschaft Sachsen-Anhalt)

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

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Ultranet progresses

17.05.2019

The Ultranet substation on the grounds of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant (which will be completely shut down by 31 December 2019) in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg is to become one of the most significant power hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape. Here, the supra-regional DC line Ultranet will be connected to the regional 380kV grid of TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Ultranet will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of the country to the industrially highly developed southwest. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is jointly carried out by TransnetBW and further TSCNET shareholder Amprion.

Last July, construction work began in Philippsburg with the groundbreaking ceremony for a new gas-insulated switchgear. Now the work on the new DC substation is being initiated, as TransnetBW officially started the filling of the construction site with a symbolic first excavator operation on 16 May. “This is a special day for the ULTRANET DC project and for the energy transition,” declared Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, to around 50 invited representatives from politics, business and society. Dr. Götz continued that now a “visible sign for the progress of the project and our aim to bring renewable electricity to Philippsburg and the region” had been set.

In the meantime, the project partner Amprion has also made progress for Ultranet, albeit in a different domain: In keeping with the motto that it is better to talk to each other than about each other, the TSO on 15 and 16 May has invited municipalities, specialist authorities and citizens’ initiatives to exchange information on the Ultranet planning status in the Rheingau-Taunus and Main-Taunus districts. A first public participation procedure had earlier led to 15 alternative routes in the respective districts, which Amprion examined in more detail. Based on the additional expert exchange, Amprion wants to better integrate the local knowledge and expertise of the participants for the comparison of variants and their environmental impacts.

TransnetBW has started preparing the construction site for the Ultranet substation in Philippsburg (picture: TransnetBW)

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

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Eco-friendly substation maintenance

13.05.2019

In total, TSCNET shareholder TenneT operates 462 high-voltage substations in the Dutch and German control areas of the binational transmission system operator (TSO). The operation of a high-voltage grid inevitably involves interference with ecosystems, but TenneT is investigating how to minimise and compensate for this. For this reason, the TSO has carried out a pilot project on biodiversity at three substations in the Netherlands.

The results of the pilot are impressive: The nature-friendly maintenance of the three facilities has preserved up to 72 percent of their insect populations. The respective measures to increase biodiversity can easily be replicated. Local seed mixtures were sown, and greens were mown in a meandering manner. Based on these encouraging results, TenneT will promote biodiversity at all of its 462 substations.

TenneT intends to establish biodiversity-friendly management as the corporate standard by 2025. This commitment to biodiversity is part of the TSO’s Corporate Social Responsibility approach for 2025 and reflects the company’s ambition to play a leading role in the energy transition as a “Green Grid Operator”. Ben Voorhorst, member of TenneT’s Executive Board, explains: “With our high voltage connections and stations, in addition to transporting green electricity, we can also contribute to the conservation of nature in another way.”

TenneT is introducing biodiversity-friendly substation maintenance (picture: kie-ker/Pixabay)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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