Ostwind 1 in full operation

16.04.2019

Among the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), 50Hertz is mainly responsible for the onshore connection of wind farms in the German Baltic Sea. The Ostwind 1 project of the TSCNET shareholder for connecting the Arkona and Viking wind farms in the “Westlich Adlergrund” cluster in the Baltic Sea near the island of Rügen to the onshore grid has now been finalised – after a construction period of three years and on time for the commissioning of the two wind farms. With a total investment volume of around €1.3bn, the budget was lower than anticipated.

Initial operation of Wikinger took place in autumn 2018, and on 16 April 2019, Arkona was also officially commissioned. Not only is Arkona the largest wind farm in the Baltic Sea, supplying the equivalent of around 400,000 households with electricity, but also its onshore connection sets new standards: Ostwind 1 is the first grid connection in the Baltic Sea with 220kV three-phase current technology to allow a higher transmission capacity. The submarine cables of Ostwind 1 end at the Lubmin onshore substation in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the current is converted to 380kV and fed into the 50Hertz transmission system.

As Arkona is operated by the German company E.ON in cooperation with the Norwegian company Equinor, the official inauguration ceremony in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Kjell-Børge Freiberg. On the occasion of the celebration, Dr. Frank Golletz, CEO of 50Hertz, commented on the Ostwind 1 converter platform and the exemplary collaboration during its construction: “This offshore platform has set a new standard. The good European cooperation will also be continued in the operation of the wind farm.”

With the official commissioning of the Arkona wind farm, the Ostwind 1 grid connection by 50Hertz has been completed (picture: Eskil Eriksen / Equinor ASA)

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Second draft of revised German GDP

16.04.2019

In early February of this year, the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW had submitted the first draft of the new 2019 version of their “Grid Development Plan (GDP) 2030” together with the Offshore GDP to the German Federal Network Agency. Both GDPs were also published for a four-week public consultation. The total of 906 comments and proposals on both GDPs have been incorporated into the second draft of the two GDPs, whenever purposeful and reasonable. This second draft has now been forwarded to the Agency and published on the joint GDP website.

While all the different scenarios of the GDP 2030 meet the official German target of 65 percent for renewable energies in gross electricity consumption, they differ in terms of technologies as well as storage and flexibility options. The TSOs respond in the GDP to the increase in the required transport capacity due to the gap in the German electricity market with the renewable generation mainly in the north and the consumption centres in the south and west. For the second draft of the GDP 2030, the TSOs have taken greater account of the possible German coal exit to ensure that the grid development measures identified in the scenarios are appropriate even in the case of an early and complete phase-out.

In all scenarios for 2030, the transmission capacity of the DC connections amounts to a total of 12GW, while the concrete figures for the need for grid reinforcements (2750 to 2800km) and new construction measures (1600 to 1700km) differ slightly. In the second draft of GDP, the TSOs carried out a cost-benefit analysis for a total of eight interconnectors and a reassessment of system stability. This analysis reveals a considerable need for reactive power compensation systems. As a result, the costs for onshore measures in scenario B 2030 increase from €52bn to €61bn compared to the first draft. The Network Agency will now evaluate the revised draft and adapt its own planning, which then must be confirmed by the Federal Government in the official Federal Requirements Plan.

The four German TSOs have published the second draft of the GDP 2030, version 2019 (picture: Amprion)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See TenneT press release (html)
> See TransnetBW press release (html)
> Visit the GDP website (html)

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Billions for the Austrian electricity infrastructure

12.04.2019

The electricity transmission system of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) is increasingly reaching its limits due to the restructuring of the energy system, notably through the integration of renewable energies. As a result, TSO interventions for grid stability and security of supply are currently causing monthly costs of €10m for Austrian electricity customers. APG is determined to respond with an even faster expansion of its high-voltage grid.

The recently granted official approval for the construction of the 380kV Salzburg Line (“Salzburgleitung”) is only the beginning of fulfilling the “#mission 2030”, the Austrian energy and climate strategy that sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030. APG has announced the “Austrian Electricity Infrastructure Billion” for further major projects to sustainably secure Austria’s power supply – the largest investment offensive to date into the Austrian transmission grid with a total of €2.5 bn over the next 10 years.

In addition to the Salzburg Line, there are two other large-scale projects: The expansion of the existing grid in the greater Linz Area and beyond (Project “Upper Austria Central Region”) and the replacement of the overhead line through the Weinviertel (“wine quarter”) in the northeast of Lower Austria. For the volatility management that will become more and more necessary in the future, APG is also pursuing innovation projects focusing on central topics like battery storage, digital substations or sector coupling.

“Full focus on renewables is the only sensible way,” explain Gerhard Christiner and Thomas Karall, CTO and CFO of APG respectively. However, they also emphasise that a strong transmission system is the precondition for the full integration of renewables, the decarbonisation targets of the industry, the full utilisation of the pumped storage potential in the Alps and the reduction of costs for grid-stabilising emergency measures.

APG launches billion-euro investment strategy for infrastructure (picture: screenshot taken from video “Wind braucht starke Netze”, APG/YouTube)

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> See APG press release, in German (html)

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Record-setting offshore connection

09.04.2019

The IJmuiden Ver offshore wind farm project in the Dutch sector of the North Sea will be equipped with two onshore connections from 2024 to 2030. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has announced to link the 6.1GW of the new offshore wind farms to the Dutch high-voltage grid via two 525kV DC cables with a capacity of 2GW – this will be the highest in the world. As a result of the increased capacity, only two instead of six cables will be required, resulting in lower costs, as well as less space requirements and environmental impact.

A total of four converter stations are required for the DC transmission, which prevents transport losses: two offshore converter platforms for converting the wind-generated AC into DC and two onshore converters for the reconversion. The 2GW connections are possible due to TenneT’s unique experience with HVDC grid connections in Germany, where TenneT will connect offshore wind farms with DC technology on a large scale. The TSO also uses the 525kV high voltage level for NordLink, the new international connection between Germany and Norway, as well as for the German onshore projects SuedLink and SuedOstlink.

TenneT has ambitious offshore plans, since the TSO has been commissioned by the Dutch government to connect a total of 9.6GW offshore capacity, of which 5.6GW will be realised with AC connections and 4GW with innovative DC connections. Together with the offshore wind farms already in operation, the offshore wind energy capacity is expected to reach 10.6GW in the Netherlands in 2030. Because of the considerable total capacity of IJmuiden Ver, the associated onshore connection is a core component of TenneT’s offshore grid development in the Netherlands.

Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the IJmuiden Ver project: “We are making an important contribution to accelerating the energy transition. Based on our experience with innovative technology in Germany, we can now help to realise the Dutch ambitions for the development of offshore wind energy with fewer cables, fewer platforms and less spatial impact and nuisance to the environment, both at sea and on land.”

TenneT connects Dutch offshore wind farm with a record capacity of 2GW (picture: TenneT , artist’s impression)

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> See TenneT press release, in Dutch (html)
> Open artist’s impression video (TenneT, YouTube)

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Research on impacts of underground cabling

04.04.2019

In Germany, it is a political objective to advance the grid expansion by installing underground cables. The Federal Government – and also the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) – hope by this means to increase public acceptance of the high-performance power lines needed to transmit electricity from the windy north of the country to the consumption-intensive south and west. But what the resident population may welcome, unsettles those through whose land the underground routes run, especially owners and cultivators of agricultural land.

The Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT itself would like to learn more about possible impacts of underground cabling on agriculture, for example in terms of soil physics or groundwater quality. The TSO has thus entered into a research cooperation with the Georg-August-University Göttingen. Together with members of the Departments of Agricultural Soil Science as well as Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, subsection Agribusiness Management, the long-term effects of three-phase underground cables on agricultural land will be investigated over a period of six years. For this purpose, a 2500m² test field for the construction and operation of 380kV underground cables is being set up at the Reinshof test farm near Göttingen in the German state of Lower Saxony.

The research partners hope to draw concrete conclusions from the test results for the construction of extra-high voltage underground cable routes as well as recommendations for recultivation measures. For these purposes, the operation of underground cables is simulated on the test field. Empty conduits are heated through heating tapes so that their thermal characteristics correspond to the power loss of real 380kV three-phase underground cables. In addition, the effects of the construction works are investigated. In this context, it is also of interest how long it takes until the original soil condition is restored.

TenneT is researching the long-term impacts of underground power transmission cables on agricultural land (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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PtG pilot plants on an industrial scale

29.03.2019

Power-to-Gas (PtG) technologies have the potential to compensate for the weather-related volatility of renewable energies. More specifically, PtG can be used to convert sustainable electricity into gas (green hydrogen or methane), so that the gas infrastructure is additionally available for the transport and storage of electricity from renewable sources. The TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, are taking the next important step towards implementing the two most powerful sector coupling projects currently underway in Germany: “hybridge” and “ELEMENT ONE”.

The respective gas transmission partners of Amprion and TenneT are Open Grid Europe for the “hybridge” project and Gasunie and Thyssengas for ELEMENT ONE. Both PTG plants are to convert up to 100MW of electrical power into gas. Their construction is planned at two different sites in the German federal state of Lower Saxony, each close to wind power generation centres and well-developed gas infrastructure.

The grid operators have submitted the necessary investment applications for both projects on 29 March to the Bundesnetzagentur (German Federal Network Agency). If the Agency gives the green light, ELEMENT ONE will be gradually operational by 2022 and hybridge will be fully functional by 2023. Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, comments on the application, that major PtG projects must now be pushed forward, “if we want to use PtG technology on a large scale in Germany in the 2030s”.

Amprion and TenneT have submitted investment applications for their respective PtG pilot plants hybridge and ELEMENT ONE (picture: Open Grid Europe GmbH)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Visit hybridge website, in German (html)
> Visit ELEMENT ONE website, in German (html)

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EU Parliament approves “Clean Energy Package”

27.03.2019

On 26 March 2019, the Members of the European Parliament adopted four new laws on the EU electricity market, which were agreed informally with EU ministers at the end of 2018. In detail, these are the new Electricity Market Regulation and Electricity Market Directive as well as the Regulations on Risk Preparedness and the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER). This concludes the “Clean Energy for All Europeans Package” (CEP). The agreements now need to be formally approved by the EU ministers and published in the EU Official Journal before they can enter into force.

The overall objective of the CEP is to create a Europe-wide market for electricity that is cleaner, more competitive and more risk-adjusted. One of the more specific targets is to freely distribute at least 70% of trading capacity across borders from 2020 on in order to facilitate trade in renewable energy across EU borders and thus support the efforts to meet the EU’s binding target of 32% renewable energy by 2030 and to fulfil the obligations of the Paris Agreement. The regulation on ACER implies that the Agency will be given more tasks and powers.

The European Parliament adopts the last four CEP regulations (photo of the European Parliament: Leonardo1982/Pixabay)

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First capacity offers on WindNODE platform

17.03.2019

Today’s energy market, with its ever-increasing share of volatile quantities of electricity from renewable sources, demands optimum capacity utilisation and systematic use of flexibility – already now and even more so in the future. To be well prepared for the challenges ahead, more than 70 partners from all over eastern Germany are working on the WindNODE project, including TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the German transmission system operator (TSO) responsible for the region. A core component of WindNODE is the flexibility platform, through which regional producers, consumers, and storage operators offer TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs) flexible use of their facilities. This is intended to reduce the throttling of wind turbines in the event of grid bottlenecks.

The WindNODE flexibility platform has been in trial operation since November 2018. On 14 March 2019, capacities were offered and called up for the first time. “This means that the trial operation is now entering the practical phase and we can demonstrate that the integration of numerous producers, storage facilities and consumers in one market environment leads to less throttling of renewables – especially now in a very windy season,” explains Georg Meyer-Braune, project manager WindNODE at 50Hertz. The test phase of the platform will last until summer 2019 and processes will be gradually established at further partners, who will thus become potential suppliers. The platform will then be in continuous operation until the end of the project term in 2020. The aim is to use the dedicated facilities for congestion management also after the completion of the WindNODE project.

The first capacities have been offered and called up on the WindNODE flexibility platform (illustration using a screenshot taken from video “Die WindNODE-Flexibilitätsplattform erklärt”, 50Hertz – YouTube)

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

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Royal interest in the Wind Power Hub

07.03.2019

TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), had the honour of hosting high-ranking visitors. During the German-Dutch trade delegation meeting on 6 March 2019 in the German North Sea port of Bremerhaven, Manon van Beek, CEO of the TSCNET shareholder, presented the vision and current plans for the North Sea Wind Power Hub in attendance of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub concept combines wind energy production, storage, and transmission with a multinational interconnection of North Sea riparian states. In addition to TenneT, the international hub consortium includes the Danish TSO Energinet, another TSCNET shareholder, the port of Rotterdam and the Dutch natural gas company Gasunie. Hence, power-to-gas technologies are also involved in the hub concept. A transnational transmission grid, controlled through a distribution hub in the North Sea and enabling the feed-in and distribution of vast quantities of offshore wind energy, would strengthen the whole European energy market and increase the security of supply across the continent.

The Dutch royal couple took great interest in the virtual and interactive model of the hub concept showcased at the meeting. Manon van Beek was most appreciative of this aristocratic concern: “We are especially pleased and honoured by the interest of the royal couple in the energy hub.” The TenneT CEO considers the Power Hub to be a valuable instrument in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement. In this regard, the royal visit was beneficial because the realisation of a low-carbon energy future “requires international cooperation and coordination, political momentum and courage and the support of non-governmental organisations”, van Beek concluded.

TenneT has presented the North Sea Wind Power Hub in the presence of the Dutch royal couple (picture: TenneT)

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

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Eco-compatibility of “Salzburgleitung” approved

06.03.2019

It took 77 months to come to a final decision, but with its verdict of 5 March 2019, the Federal Administrative Court in the Austrian capital of Vienna now has validly confirmed the environmental compatibility of the Salzburg Line (“Salzburgleitung”), a project of TSCNET shareholder APG. The national transmission system operator (TSO) can thus secure not only Salzburg’s electricity supply, but significantly increase the security of supply for the whole of Austria.

Since the 380kV line is one of Austria’s most important infrastructure projects, Gerhard Christiner and Thomas Karall, CTO and CFO of APG respectively, consider the court’s decision a milestone for Austria’s energy infrastructure: “With the Salzburg Line, APG is creating the conditions for integrating the planned massive expansion of renewable energies such as wind and photovoltaics into the electricity grid and for ensuring Austria’s secure long-term electricity supply.” The line project is a key factor in fulfilling the “#mission 2030”, the Austrian energy and climate strategy that sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030.

In the actual APG grid planning, the Salzburg Line is crucial for completing the so-called 380kV Safety Ring, which is to form the backbone of the future Austrian transmission system. By connecting the main wind power generation areas in the east of the country with the pumped storage power plants in the west, surplus wind power capacities not consumed locally can be transported to the storage facilities in the Alps. If required, electricity can then be retrieved again. In this way, renewable energy sources will be used more efficiently.

The environmental compatibility of the Salzburg Line project of APG has been confirmed by the court of last resort (picture: APG)

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> See APG press release, in German (html)

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