TSOs introduce possible SuedLink routings

21.02.2019

The SuedLink extra-high voltage line is an integral part of Germany’s future low-carbon energy infrastructure. Major supra-regional projects such as Suedlink are included in the German Federal Requirements Plan Act and are often referred to as “power highways”. In order to reach Germany’s and Europe’s climate goals, they are indispensable to link the windy regions of northern Germany with the consumption centres in the industrially highly developed south. SuedLink is jointly carried out by the two TSCNET shareholders TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and TransnetBW, the TSO from southwest Germany.

The European “Project of Common Interest” (PCI) with an investment volume of around €10bn is planned as a DC underground cable. It comprises two measures with a capacity of 2GW each, from the northernmost federal state of Schleswig-Holstein through western Lower Saxony, northern Hesse and southern Thuringia to Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg respectively. In 2017, TenneT and TransnetBW defined a whole network of possible corridor sections suitable for detailed consideration. On that basis, the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) decided on the cable routes to be thoroughly analysed. In recent months, TenneT and TransnetBW then carried out an in-depth examination and evaluation of these corridor alternatives by applying around 150 criteria.

On 21 February, the two TSOs presented the proposed corridor and the other corridor options derived from their study to the Network Agency. “With the detailed studies of the possible corridor variants, we have now identified a specific underground cable corridor that has the smallest possible impact on humans and nature,” explains Manon van Beek, CEO at TenneT. To give all interested parties the opportunity to inform themselves in advance, TenneT and TransnetBW publish the overview maps of the proposed corridor and the grid of all possible corridors on their respective project websites. Numerous dialogue events are to follow. “Transparency is one of our highest priorities,” comments Dr. Werner Götz, CEO at TransnetBW, on this procedure.

TenneT and TransnetBW present possible corridor variants for SuedLink (picture: TenneT)

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TenneT presents Annual Report

21.02.2019

The transition to significantly more solar and wind energy in the power grid continues to have a substantial impact on the business operations of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The apparent progress made by TenneT in this respect is reflected in the TSO’s just published Integrated Annual Report 2018, which is accompanied by the Green Finance Report 2018. To further advance the energy transition, TenneT focuses on the innovation and optimisation of the existing transmission system as well as on major national and international grid expansions. Manon van Beek, CEO at TenneT, refers to the necessity “to expand and reinforce our grids both onshore and offshore” and further explains: “We must also use the capacity of this infrastructure better, more flexibly and efficiently with the help of technology.”

TenneT again achieved a very good financial result in 2018. On an underlying revenue basis of €4.2bn, the TSO invested €2.3bn (2017: €1.8bn) in the energy transition and security of supply, with remarkable success, as grid availability in 2018 was 99.9988% within TenneT’s control area. And apart from the ensured reliability of the current transmission system, TenneT also wants to guarantee security of supply in the future. Since the energy future cannot be realised without inventive concepts, TenneT was and will be very active in innovation research for a flexible and affordable energy system based on solar and wind energy as well as green hydrogen. Several research projects are currently underway with renowned partners from industry and science.

Especially in terms of wind energy, TenneT is setting standards by reaching a new milestone in Germany and bringing almost 17TWh of offshore wind energy ashore in 2018. TenneT’s total connection capacity for offshore wind farms grew to 6,232MW. The BorWin3 and DolWin6 projects, which will be completed in 2019 and 2023 respectively, will further increase capacity to more than 8,000MW in Germany, while the development of an offshore grid in the Dutch North Sea is also progressing as planned.

Another important operational objective of TenneT is the further integration of the Northwest European electricity market, which is essential for the success of the European energy targets. One of TenneT’s current projects is the Doetinchem-Wesel link between the Netherlands and Germany, which went into operation in September 2018. In addition, the COBRAcable subsea connection between the Netherlands and Denmark has “landed” at the Eemshaven connection point and will be commissioned this year. Also worth noting is the NordLink cable connection currently under construction, which will be the first direct link between the German and Norwegian markets. The 624km interconnector is expected to come on stream in 2021. TenneT will then be operating 16 interconnectors in total.

TenneT presents its Integrated Annual Report 2018 and Green Finance Report 2018 (picture: screenshot taken from video “50 Hertz – The challenge of continuous electricity”, TenneT – Youtube)

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TenneT and Gasunie present “Infrastructure Outlook 2050”

15.02.2019

Electricity grids in Europe are increasingly confronted with the fluctuating feed-in of renewable energies. Consequently, they need more flexibility, which can be provided by the comprehensive coupling of sectors such as energy, transport, industry and heat. Many European transmission system operators (TSOs) have identified the integration of electricity and gas transmission infrastructures as a promising approach to fulfilling the requirements of the coming sustainable energy system. Electricity and gases must complement each other, since interlinking both grid types creates new storage possibilities and also provides additional transport options for renewables. Both factors will help to keep energy supplies reliable and affordable also in the low carbon energy future.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO for electricity, and Gasunie, the Dutch TSO for gas, each operate grids in the Netherlands as well as in Germany. Last year they entered into a sector coupling partnership with plans for the Power-to-Gas (PtG) pilot plant “ELEMENT ONE”. Now the TSOs have presented their joint “Infrastructure Outlook 2050”. It clearly illustrates that the existing electricity and gas infrastructures in the Netherlands and Germany continue to play a decisive role in coping with the increase in renewable energies and achieving the Paris climate targets. The main conclusion of the joint TSO study is that electricity and gas networks must be more closely interconnected by 2050 in order to meet the objectives. The Outlook is also the first document of its kind to consider various scenarios for the future development of energy supply.

The importance of hydrogen from PtG technologies for energy storage and transport is also highlighted. But even despite the potential of sector integration, further expansion of the electricity grid remains essential, as all scenarios envisage a significant increase in the necessity of electricity transport. In addition, however, there must also be backing from political decision-makers and the creation of a clear, supportive regulatory framework. Manon van Beek, CEO at TenneT, argues that “energy systems are not converted overnight but require sustained, joint efforts”. She therefore sees the need for close cooperation between all those involved in the energy market. In this respect, the “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” represents a “solid, joint start with fresh insights”.

TenneT and Gasunie present the “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” on developing and coupling of transmission infrastructures (picture: Gasunie)

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Hybridge to couple energy sectors

11.02.2019

Last summer, TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) for electricity, and Open Grid Europe (OGE), German TSO for natural gas, announced a collaboration in the field of sector coupling by means of power to gas (PtG) facilities. PtG technologies offer promising perspectives for a low-carbon energy future. Now the two partners are ready to launch the sector coupling at system level in Germany with the project “hybridge” comprising an electrolyser in the 100MW class and a hydrogen infrastructure.

At a joint press conference on 11 February in the German capital of Berlin, the current status of hybridge and further steps were presented. Since the partners, who estimate the costs for the entire project at €150m, are ready to enter the approval phase, Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, explained that the regulatory framework must now be set up quickly. The more so, as it is crucial for the German climate targets that PtG is available in the GW range from 2030. “The ball is in the court of politics. If the course is set now, the plant can already go into operation in 2023,” commented Dr. Kleinekorte.

The ideal location for the first PtG plant in the projected size, in which electricity from renewable energies is converted into green hydrogen and partly further into green methane via an electrolyser, was found at an intersection between the Amprion and OGE grids in the district of Emsland in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony. The regional natural gas storage facilities, which can be converted to hydrogen in the future, also contribute to optimal conditions for the development of a hydrogen grid to complement the 100MW electrolyser. Amprion and OGE intend to further develop an existing OGE pipeline for the exclusive transport of hydrogen. The concept of Amprion and OGE for sector coupling at system level also includes non-discriminatory third-party access for all market participants to the planned grid coupling infrastructure.

Amprion and the gas-TSO Open Grid Europe are ready to launch their joint sector coupling project “hybridge” (picture: Amprion; from left to right: Dr. Thomas Hüwener, Member of the OGE Management Board, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion)

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Automobile batteries to stabilise the grid

07.02.2019

Automobile battery storage systems can be employed for system stabilisation and thus substitute large power plants. This is the encouraging result of a joint research project successfully conducted by the Daimler subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Energy and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The pilot was carried out in the Daimler battery test laboratory in Kamenz, a small Saxon town near Dresden, with funds from the innovation programme “Smart Energy Showcases. Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition” (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie. Digitale Agenda für die Energiewende” – SINTEG) initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The impetus for this research, as well as for other TenneT innovation projects, derives from the energy transition, which has brought about two decisive changes for the TSOs: the loss of reactive power due to the shutdown of large power plants and the volatility of renewable energy generation. Still, generation and consumption need to be balanced in the grid in order to maintain the 50Hz frequency. In this respect, vehicle-to-grid technologies are a promising approach to providing enough primary balancing power.

The prototype storage system installed in the laboratory is based on lithium-ion automobile batteries with a total connected load of approx. 1MW and a storage capacity of 750kWh. It is connected to a specifically constructed test grid. The test runs in Kamenz have shown that such battery storage systems are suitable for highly dynamic system support, since they respond to a frequency deviation in less than 100 milliseconds. They are also employable for system recovery, even for the start-up of entire power stations, e.g. after a major power failure. In this case, they can function as a kind of starter battery and restart the inert rotating masses of a power station. The project partners verified this by simulating a power failure in the test grid, which was restored afterwards with the automobile battery storage system.

TenneT and Mercedes-Benz Energy have conducted a research project on the use of automobile battery systems for grid stabilisation (illustration using a picture provided by Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH)

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Revised Network Development Plan for Germany

04.02.2019

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT and TransnetBW today have published the first draft of the new 2019 version of their “Network Development Plan (NDP) 2030” on their joint NDP website. All the different scenarios of the NDP meet the German official 65 percent target for renewables in gross electricity consumption, but differ in terms of the use of innovative technologies, storage technologies and flexibility options. Irrespective of this, a further increase in the internal German electricity market gap can be observed in all scenarios – with cumulative generation in the north and consumption centres in the south and west.

In response to the increase in required transport capacity estimated at around 11GW – due to the expansion of renewables, the significant reduction in the use of coal for electricity generation and the development of the European electricity market – the TSOs consider the construction of two additional major DC lines with a total length of 1160km to be necessary. These two extra lines with a total capacity of 4GW were not part of previous NDPs and go beyond the current German Federal Requirements Plan. The new lines are foreseen to run as underground cables in a corridor from the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein via Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia to Baden-Württemberg. They are part of the scenario B 230, in which the German TSOs propose to build altogether more than 4500km of new or upgraded power lines by 2030 (the abovementioned 1160km of the new DC lines plus an additional 450km of new constructions and 2900km of upgrades).

The costs for the expansion of the German extra-high voltage grid in the B 230 scenario will rise significantly as a result of the new projects. The TSOs estimate the costs at around €52bn. As in previous years, the Offshore Network Development Plan was drafted together with the NDP and integrated into the new NDP 2030. The NDP publication marks the start of a four-week public consultation. The comments will be taken into account for the second draft of the NEP 2030, which will then be submitted to the Federal Network Agency for review. The Agency is expected to announce its modified plans probably in May, after which the Federal Government will have to confirm the expansion in the official Federal Requirements Plan.

The four German TSOs present a revised Network Development Plan 2030, which provides for a total of 4500km of new or upgraded power lines (picture: Amprion GmbH / Haslauer)

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APG study on targets for renewables

31.01.2019

A resilient electricity transmission grid is the most effective flexibility option for converting the energy system in the course of the energy transition. This is the result of a study conducted by the renowned consulting company “Energy Brainpool” on behalf of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO). The aim of the study is to identify possible effects of the restructuring of the energy system and concrete measures so that Austria can sufficiently contribute to the international climate agreement. According to “Mission 2030”, the Austrian energy and climate strategy, the national target in this respect is to cover 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030.

“A full focus on renewables is the only reasonable way,” states Gerhard Christiner, CTO at APG. “We fully support the political goals of the Austrian Federal Government.” Since the transformation of the energy system is a comprehensive project, it can only be realised with enormous effort of all parties involved. The new study shows that the expansion of renewables will lead to unprecedented volatility in power generation, which should best be countered with a strong transmission grid. The basic precondition for this is the rapid implementation of the existing grid extension plans.

“The APG grid development plan provides for an investment volume of more than two and a half billion euros over the next ten years to upgrade our infrastructure,” explains Thomas Karall, CFO at APG. That’s money well spent, for the results of the “Energy Brainpool” study show that, in principle, it is possible to achieve the targets set out in “Mission 2030″. But official approval procedures must be accelerated, because: “If we do not manage to extend the transmission grid on time, the energy system will reach its limits. Then it will not be possible to fully exploit the potential of renewable energies,” explains CTO Christiner.

Vienna-based APG presents the results of a study on the preconditions for the Austrian “Mission 2030” targets

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TSO-DSO platform for congestion management

30.01.2019

Grid operators in the Netherlands and throughout Europe are working intensively on expanding grid capacity, which is urgently needed in the wake of energy transition and economic growth. However, this cannot be achieved in the short term, but the use of flexible electricity from the market can help to avoid anticipated grid congestions. GOPACS (“Grid Operators Platform for Congestion Solutions”) is the name of a new technological tool developed in the Netherlands for this purpose. It is the result of a unique, active collaboration between four Dutch distribution system operators (DSOs) and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO).

GOPACS is not a market platform in its own right but uses orders on existing market platforms. And this is how it works: If congestion is foreseeable at some part of the grid, operators would like to see, for example, a reduction in production or an increase in consumption. Via GOPACS, an invitation to tender is sent to market participants concerned, who place an appropriate purchase order on a connected market platform. To avoid negative impacts on the balance of the national grid, the reduction of generation in the congestion area is combined with a contrary order from a market party outside this area. The price difference between the two orders is covered by the operators, the two orders are matched, and congestion is resolved.

The Dutch grid operators are currently looking for market players who want to participate and use their flexibility productively. Participation in GOPACS is interesting for any market party with the possibility to influence electricity consumption or generation and to provide this flexibility for trading.

Together with Dutch DSOs, TenneT has launched GOPACS, a smart platform for market players to solve grid congestions

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TenneT performs blockchain pilots successfully

29.01.2019

The energy transition demands digital transition – the number of renewable sources is increasing, while in the future there will be less and less conventional plants available to ensure the required flexibility and stability in the grid for which the transmission system operators (TSOs) are responsible. As such, the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT is constantly seeking new decentralised sources that can replace lost flexibility. In addition to wind and solar energy, these can include batteries, industrial plants or cogeneration. This is where digitisation comes in, because only through so-called “aggregator” and block chain technology the capacity and potential of all these sources can be combined and fully utilised.

TenneT has launched two pilot projects last year, one in the Netherlands and one in Germany, both employing blockchain technology. In the first case, e-vehicles and in the second case household batteries were used to balance the grid and avoid congestions. The blockchain application is an IBM development and the Dutch green electricity supplier Vandebron is the cooperation partner in the Netherlands. Vandebron provides battery capacity from e-car charging sessions at TenneT’s request. In this way, the TSO can draw on an additional electricity pool. In Germany, TenneT collaborates with Sonnen E-services, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Decentralised household batteries from Sonnen are integrated into the TenneT network via a blockchain and interconnected. Through the smart use of these batteries, Sonnen contributes to facilitating power transmission in Germany.

Since both blockchain tests were successful, TenneT and IBM have signed a contract for the further development of blockchain technology. The companies will intensify the implementation so that many more parties can gain access to the electricity market. Three new partners have already been won as additional “aggregators” to ensure improved matching of electricity supply and demand. TenneT CEO Manon van Beek explains that the TSO offers not only “a new way of integrating decentralised sources”, but also “private individuals a good opportunity to participate actively in the energy transition, making the energy transition more affordable together”.

TenneT has successfully conducted two blockchain research pilot projects (picture: Sonnen GmbH)

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European power facts

22.01.2019

“Power Facts Europe 2019” is a focused and data-driven report on the dimension, status quo, development and perspectives of key areas of the European energy transition published today by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E). The “Power Facts” are part of a wider ENTSO-E transparency initiative by which ENTSO-E and the transmission system operators (TSOs) aim to provide citizens with factual support to promote the energy transition in Europe and its acceptance.

The “Power Facts Europe” consist of six chapters. The first three represent the common triad of sustainability, market and security of supply, which is supplemented by chapters on infrastructure, customers and the cyber physical grid. Each chapter offers relevant data compilations, mainly provided by the TSO community, that allow a better understanding of important aspects related to the energy transition.

ENTSO-E has released “Power Facts Europe 2019”, a consistent data report on the EU-wide energy transition

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