€30m for substation upgrade in Lower Austria

19.05.2020

The grid infrastructure of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO), must comply with the changes in the power system. The APG projects in this regard are essential for the success of the energy transition and indispensable for Austria’s secure future electricity supply. One example of this is the modernisation of the Ternitz substation in Neunkirchen in Lower Austria, which was built in 1965. With its reconstruction, the TSO significantly improves the power supply of the industrial district south of Vienna, Upper Styria and the Mürztal valley in north-eastern Styria. In addition, a new phase-shifting transformer (PST) will increase failure safety for all of Austria and facilitate the smart integration of green electricity such as wind power from the Weinviertel region into the APG grid. All in all, the TSO is investing €30m in the substation upgrade.

The Ternitz substation is an important hub in APG’s supraregional power grid. Its infrastructural significance is emphasised by the new 220/110kV transformer, which will be one of three such PSTs in Austria. In the 220kV grid, it regulates the flow of electricity on the power lines in north-south direction and distributes it evenly to assure full electricity supply for the region and for all of Austria. To maintain reliability also during the time of the reconstruction, APG will be keeping the substation in operation with numerous temporary measures. Construction was originally scheduled to be concluded in December 2020, but due to the corona pandemic, completion is expected to be delayed by about three months and is now scheduled for March 2021.

Since mid-April, about 50 APG construction projects that were suspended after the Covid outbreak have been gradually resumed in compliance with the necessary distance and hygiene requirements. APG is thus living up to its responsibility not only towards the energy industry, but also as a driving force for the Austrian economy as a whole. In 2020, the investment volume of all APG construction projects in the areas of grid extension, renovation and maintenance projects will total €350m.

APG is investing €30m in the upgrade of the Ternitz substation in Lower Austria (picture: Christoph Breneis / APG)

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Demolition makes room for DC substation

14.05.2020

After TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, was granted building permit for the ULTRANET substation on the site of the former Philippsburg nuclear power plant in March 2020, the way is now finally clear for its construction. At 6.05 in the morning of 14 May 2020, the two cooling towers on the site of the former power plant were detonated. Now the necessary construction space of around 100,000m² is created. The Philippsburg plant was shut down completely on 31 December 2019 and the building construction of the ULTRANET substation is scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2020.

Since the future Philippsburg substation is the southern end point of the supra-regional high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line ULTRANET, it will be one of the most important energy hubs in Germany’s soon-to-be energy landscape. ULTRANET, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), is jointly implemented by the two TSCNET shareholders TransnetBW and Amprion. It will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of Germany to the more industrially developed southwest with low losses. In Philippsburg, the transmitted DC will be converted into AC and distributed regionally. In the reverse case, the substation enables the conversion of AC to DC, e.g. to transport excess photovoltaic power from the south to the north.

The fact that the “green” substation will feed renewable electricity into the transmission system instead of nuclear power is a representative of the entire German energy future. “The construction of our DC substation on the site of the cooling towers of the nuclear power plant is a visible sign and symbol of the progress of the energy transition,” comments Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “In future, renewable electricity will flow from the Philippsburg site through the TransnetBW transmission grid to the entire region. Thus, as the TSO in Baden-Württemberg, we ensure that our country will have the electricity it needs even in a future without nuclear power and coal.”

With the cooling towers of the Philippsburg nuclear plant detonated, TransnetBW will begin construction of the ULTRANET substation (picture: screenshot taken from video “Sprengung der Kühltürme des Atomkraftwerks Philippsburg”, in German, YouTube channel of German newspaper “Die Rheinpfalz“)

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First section of new 50Hertz 380kV line in operation

13.05.2020

The 37-kilometre line section between the Stendal West and Wolmirstedt substations in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt is the southernmost stretch of an overhead line construction project, which runs for a total of over 200 kilometres from Güstrow in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to Wolmirstedt. With this 380kV line construction, TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from north-east of Germany, is successively replacing a 220kV line dating from the 50s of the last century. On 12 May, 50Hertz commissioned the Stendal West-Wolmirstedt section, whose construction costs amounted to around €40m.

In May 2019, the TSO had started erecting the 87 Pylons of this first stretch of the new transmission line, which could be installed along the entire length of the section parallel to an existing 380kv line. This continuous line bundling follows the 50Hertz planning principle of using existing infrastructure wherever possible. After the conclusion of the approval procedures, construction, and commissioning of all six sections towards Güstrow, 50Hertz will completely dismantle the old 220kV line Güstrow-Wolmirstedt.

The main objective of the 50 Hertz construction project is to improve the transmission capacity for wind power. Dr. Frank Golletz, CTO of 50Hertz, comments on the progress of the extra-high voltage line: “The increase in transmission capacity is necessary to enable us to better manage the high volume of wind energy in the northern regions of our control area and to integrate it securely into our grid. With the commissioning of this first construction phase, we have come a step closer to this target.”

50Hertz has commissioned the new 380kV overhead line between Stendal West and Wolmirstedt (picture: City of Stendal, Germany)

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Amprion invests €1bn in 525kV cables for A-Nord

12.05.2020

The DC transmission line A-Nord represents the northern part of Corridor A, which is one of the main axes of the German energy transition. The 300-kilometre line from the port city of Emden at the Dollart Bay to Osterath in the Lower Rhine region is being implemented by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). With a capacity of 2GW, A-Nord will transport wind power from the North Sea to the centres of consumption in the Rhineland and Ruhr district. The southern part of Corridor A is the Ultranet line, which is being implemented jointly by Amprion and further TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW.

Like other large-scale German DC interconnection projects that are essential to the country’s low-carbon energy future, A-Nord will be realised via underground cabling. The transmission capacity of 2GW will be achieved by 525kV cables whose efficiency significantly reduces the environmental impact but requires a special insulation material and highly competent suppliers. After extensive technical tests, Amprion has now contracted the underground cables for A-Nord. The specialist companies Prysmian Powerlink and Sumitomo Electric Industries are each supplying one cable system for A-Nord. The manufacturers will produce the systems concurrently with the construction of the line, scheduled to start in 2023.

Dr Hans-Jürgen Brick, CEO of Amprion, comments in view of the challenges to achieve a sustainable energy future: “It is essential that the grid expansion continues to progress swiftly.” Dr Klaus Kleinekorte, the TSO’s CTO, adds: “With this assignment, Amprion once again demonstrates that we are a driving force for innovative developments.”

Amprion has awarded contracts for the 525kV underground cables for the A-Nord power highway (picture: Amprion / Lutz Kampert)

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50Hertz turns to green financing

08.05.2020

The grid connections Ostwind 1 and 2 to the offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea northeast of the German island of Rügen belong to the infrastructure projects of 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), which contribute to a sustainable European energy future. Ostwind 1 is already in operation and connects the wind farms “Wikinger” and “Arkona” via two offshore platforms with the Lubmin substation in the Bay of Greifswald. The Ostwind 2 project will connect the nearby wind farms “Arcadis Ost 1” and “Baltic Eagle” to the German extra-high voltage grid. The future transmission capacity of both connections is approximately 1.5GW.

To financially secure these forward-looking projects, the TSCNET shareholder is now active on the green investment market as corporate issuer of Green Debt: On 6 May 2020, Eurogrid GmbH, the parent company of 50Hertz, has issued its first Green Bond in the amount of €750m on the regulated market, thus securing the liquidity for the two offshore projects and further grid expansion necessary for the energy transition.

Marco Nix, CFO of 50Hertz, comments on the bond issue: “With the first Green Bond in our company’s history, we are securing part of the necessary investments in the grid infrastructure over the next few years.” Especially in view of the current difficult economic circumstances, the great interest of the financial markets in the bonds was proof of the confidence in the TSO’s sustainability strategy and investment plans. “The transaction is an important cornerstone in driving forward the expansion of our grid and thus the energy transition,” adds Marco Nix.

50Hertz has successfully issued its first Green Bond in the amount of €750m (picture: 50Hertz)

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525kV cables for SuedOstLink

05.05.2020

The SuedOstLink is one of the major German DC interconnection projects that are essential to Germany’s low-carbon energy future by transporting green electricity generated in the north and east of the country – mainly wind power – to the centres of consumption in the south and west. Like the other so-called “Stromautobahnen” (power highways), SuedOstLink is primarily implemented via underground cabling. Its realisation is a joint effort of the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from northeast Germany, and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO.

The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) now has reached an important landmark with the award of the contract for around 1000 kilometres of underground cables, the definitive centrepiece of SuedOstLink. The technology to be used for this is a global novelty: plastic-insulated underground cables for a voltage of 525kV. With these cables, the SuedOstLink connection will have a transmission capacity of 2GW. The higher capacity requires fewer cables to transmit the same power. The routing can therefore be designed narrower and the necessary civil engineering work is decreased. This significantly reduces the impact on the public and the environment.

The contracts were assigned to NKT for the northern part of the project in the 50Hertz control area and to Prysmian PowerLink for the section under TenneT’s responsibility. Both companies are internationally represented in numerous connection projects on- and offshore and both have proven the quality of their cables in extensive prequalification tests. The contracts include design, manufacture, delivery, laying of the underground cables, further installation work and the final high-voltage testing of the cable system. SuedOstLink is currently in the planning approval process. It should be completed by the end of 2025.

Dr Frank Golletz, Technical Director at 50Hertz, expects the cables to be laid from 2022 and describes the contract award as “a good signal for the SuedOstLink joint venture project as well as for the energy transition across Germany and Europe”. Tim Meyerjürgens, Managing Director of TenneT, adds: “We will use the innovative, plastic-insulated 525kV underground cables for the first time worldwide and will thus set new standards in technology and the reduction of environmental impact.”

50Hertz and TenneT have assigned the orders for the 525kV underground cables for SuedOstLink (picture: NKT)

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Minor power failure, major solution

29.04.2020

Only 16 minutes long was the power outage, and it affected only part of the state of Salzburg, but for the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG, the small event was nevertheless related to a much bigger project. The Salzburg Line (“Salzburgleitung”) is a 380kv overhead line project of the TSCNET shareholder. The aim is not only to integrate increasing amounts of renewable energy into the grid, but also to ensure the long-term security of electricity supply for the Salzburg region and the whole of Austria. The line is a key factor in meeting #mission2030, the Austrian energy and climate strategy, which sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030.

The current incident has unexpectedly confirmed the necessity of building a new transmission line: Due to a technical defect, the grid coupling of the APG high-voltage grid at the Kaprun substation to the 110kV grid of Salzburg was interrupted, which led to a power outage. Thanks to the swift action of the APG experts, the connection was restored after only a good quarter of an hour. The incident had no critical consequences, but it clearly shows how important additional grid support for the Salzburg distribution grid through the new 380kV line and the new Pongau substation is.

A short-term power outage in the Austrian state of Salzburg underscored the importance of the planned Salzburg Line for grid stability (edited picture of Bruck near Kaprun: Kassandro, Creative Commons)

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Nordic Power Solutions Report

29.04.2020

The Nordic transmission system operator (TSOs) of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Danish TSCNET customer Energinet have updated their 2018 report “Solutions for a changing Nordic power system”. The Solutions Report 2020 provides an overview of the joint Nordic TSO projects that have been identified as crucial to address the challenges in the Nordic energy system.

As in the rest of Europe, the Nordic power system is undergoing the most significant changes since the liberalisation of the electricity markets, and here, too, these changes are mainly based on a new power generation mix with volatile generation and distributed resources. The Power Solutions Report 2020 draws a common picture of the progress of the new solutions in the Nordic power system that respond to these changes. In addition to reporting on the projects, the report also features comments from stakeholders on the tasks and the challenges they still see in the Nordic power grid.

Energinet and the other Nordic TSOs have published their joint Nordic Power Solutions Report 2020 (picture: Bo Kamstrup, Pixabay)

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TransnetBW presents foresight on the power grid 2050

24.04.2020

TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), presented its study “Electricity Grid 2050” (“Stromnetz 2050”) in a Twitter online event on 22 April. The study, in which the TSCNET shareholder drafts a scenario for a largely climate-neutral energy system in Germany and Europe, is now available to anyone interested. The TSO outlines a target vision of the German energy system after the climate protection and energy transition goals have been achieved and indicates, which requirements must be met at system and grid level in a sustainable energy future.

The live-stream presentation of the study, followed by an online question and answer session, was hosted by Michael Jesberger, member of the TransnetBW executive board, together with Christian Schorn, Head of Asset Management & Operations at TransnetBW, Dr. Felix Matthes, research coordinator for energy and climate policy at the Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology, a non-profit, private-sector environmental research institute) and Helmfried Meinel, Ministerial Director of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector.

“The energy transition is progressing, and climate policy goals have been set: By 2050, the energy system in Germany should be largely climate-neutral. The transmission grid plays a decisive role in this,” explained Michael Jesberger. “With the study ‘Electricity Grid 2050’, we are revealing how a greenhouse gas-neutral energy system can look like.” By considering the time after the climate targets are reached, the study extends the time frame beyond the requirements of national planning guidelines. “With this approach of thinking the energy transition from the end, the study provides a new basis for discussion of the methodological refinement of the German Network Development Plan (NEP), which so far only plans the transmission grids ten to 15 years in advance,” stated Christian Schorn.

According to the study, it is necessary to increase the installed capacity of wind energy and photovoltaic systems by three to four times compared to 2018 to achieve the energy and climate policy goals by 2050. In addition, the heating and transport sector will have to be largely electrified, which will lead to an increase in net electricity demand of over 50%. This will only be partially compensated by the integration of the European internal electricity market and the increasing cross-border electricity trade. Hence, the transmission grid planned in the NEP is not sufficient to achieve the energy goals. The integration of renewable energies requires a set of grid extension measures that goes far beyond the previous plans. The study “Electricity Grid 2050” offers a new level of detail of the future grid and is intended to stimulate a fruitful debate.

TransnetBW has presented an in-depth study on the future electricity infrastructure (picture of Michael Jesberger, Managing Director at TransnetBW: screenshot of the study’s online presentation)

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“Record share of fluctuating power from sun and wind”

22.04.2020

All the significant figures, data, and facts are to be found in the Annual Report 2019 of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, which just has been presented by the transmission system operator (TSO) from North-East Germany. The report is entitled “We Create Stability” and was published together with the Sustainability Report for 2019. The 140-page document contains a wealth of information about the company’s vision for a successful energy transition in a sustainable world.

In numerous articles and graphics, complex correlations are presented concisely and transparently. Particularly noteworthy is the 60% share of renewable energies in electricity consumption in the 50Hertz control area. The TSO’s ecological responsibility was reflected last year in 768 ecological compensation measures as well as 116 hectares of ecological corridor management. But also economically, the year was successful for 50Hertz, and the company’s growth is confirmed by the 135 new colleagues that the TSO welcomed in 2019. To pursue its sustainable path, 50Hertz plans to invest €4.2bn in the grid infrastructure by 2025.

The report also features profound interviews with senior executives, including 50Hertz CEO-Stefan Kapferer and Chris Peeters, CEO of the Elia Group and Chairman of the Board of Directors of 50Hertz, providing in-depth insights into the business areas of the TSO. Topics such as sustainable financing, system stability, digitisation of markets and system management, connection of offshore wind farms or investments in grids and substations are all being addressed. An outlook on the energy system in 2030 concludes the 50Hertz Annual Report.

50Hertz has presented its Annual and Sustainability Report 2019 (picture: 50Hertz)

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