Germany’s first hybrid Statcom facility in operation

27.01.2020

Since January 24, Germany’s first hybrid static synchronous compensator (Statcom) system is connected to the power grid. For about two years, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has been modernising its long-established substation in Borken, in the German state of Hesse, practically at the centre of the German transmission system. The heart of the conversion work was the installation of the Statcom system. Due to the limited space available at the site, TenneT decided to build the Statcom system in hybrid construction, thus reducing the additional space requirement to less than one hectare.

With the high-performance technology in operation, TenneT uses the historic substation in Borken, which boasts a tradition of almost a hundred years, for a task that will contribute significantly to the success of the energy transition: the provision of dynamic voltage support and reactive power to compensate for the decreasing capacities previously provided by large power plants that are being successively shut down. The TSO invested around €30m in the Borken substation, that now has become one of the most modern hubs for green power in the German grid.

Last Friday, Axel Schomberg, Head of TenneT Grid Operations, together with high representatives of local politics, officially commissioned the Statcom system, underlining the significance of the facility for the energy transition. In combination with the numerous other reactive power compensation systems operated in the 129 German TenneT substations, including compensation coils, MSCDN systems and the first rotating phase shifter in the German power grid at the time of installation, the Statcom system contributes to the static reactive power supply.

TenneT has commissioned Germany’s first hybrid Statcom system (picture: TenneT)

Linkup
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

APG investigates Flex-Hub concept

24.01.2020

In times of increasing shares of volatile renewable energies, flexibility is an important factor for European transmission system operators (TSOs). For this reason, TSCNET shareholder APG plans to introduce a Flex-Hub, which will enable small, decentralised flexibility resources to participate in the power frequency control of the national electricity grid. Together with the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), a global non-profit foundation to promote block chain technology in the energy sector, the Austrian TSO is conducting a feasibility study for the concept being developed by APG.

This proof of concept is intended to provide a solution for the technical implementation of the Flex-Hub using the open-source software application “Energy Web Decentralised Operating System” (EW-DOS), which includes the blockchain platform of Energy Web. The final objective of the hub concept is to efficiently integrate plant qualification, plant registration, bid management and billing functions of decentralised flexibility providers so that the additional flexibility can be made available for future challenges in power grid operation.

APG is conducting a proof of concept for its Flex-Hub model (picture: APG)

Linkup
> See APG press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

TransnetBW promotes weather-dependent line operation

20.01.2020

The energy transition requires the transport of increased amounts of electricity and thus more efficient grid usage. TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the southwest of Germany, intends to take greater account of the fact that overhead lines have different maximum loads depending on the weather conditions. On a cool, windy day, for instance, considerably more electricity can be transported than on a hot, windless day. To make optimum use of this effect, the TSCNET shareholder is currently implementing a system that provides the necessary detailed information about the specific line capacity for improved network management.

The project, which the TSO is carrying out together with Energy & Meteo Systems GmbH, a provider of power predictions and virtual power plants, is called “Witterungsabhängiger Freileitungsbetrieb 3.0” (weather-dependent overhead line operation 3.0 – WAFB 3.0). Together, significant locations for the real-time monitoring of overhead lines in the TransnetBW control area were defined and weather stations and sensors are now being installed at 250 pylons and 48 substations to detect the weather-dependent transmission capacity of the respective lines. This will give TransnetBW much more accurate data on the utilisation of the grid to better avoid bottlenecks.

Alexander Hofmann, WAFB 3.0 project manager at TransnetBW, explains the approach: “Up to now, we have only considered the temperature at regional level for our grid operation. With WAFB 3.0, we record not only the temperature but also the wind on a small scale, which opens up much more options for our daily grid operation. Initially, the system helps us to check the forecast values used and to adjust them if necessary. From 2023 on, it will determine for each line individually and in real time which transmission capacities will be available when required.”

TransnetBW collects and utilises data on the weather-dependent transmission capacity of overhead lines (picture: analogicus)

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

See article on single page

European wind energy record shares in 2019

14.01.2020

Not much time has passed in the new year, but the German-based International Economic Forum for Renewable Energies (Internationales Wirtschaftsforum Regenerative Energien/IWR) has already evaluated the electricity data for 2019 provided by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) on behalf of the member transmission system operators (TSOs). According to the IWR, the total share of all renewable energies in the energy mix has continued to rise. Wind and solar power generation reached new all-time highs (almost 510TWh), while electricity production from hydropower remained comparatively low due to the long dry phase in 2019.

In the EU, wind energy was the most important regenerative energy source in 2019 with around 392TWh (2018: 349TWh). The statistical analysis of the IWR coincides with the figures which the Dutch-German TSO TenneT has just published for the feed-in of electricity from German North Sea wind farms. The TSCNET shareholder in 2019 has increased the offshore wind energy connection capacity of its twelve German offshore grid connection systems currently in operation to 7,132MW. For one thing, this means that the “wind harvest” record figures exceed the previous year by around 21%. Secondly, the TSO has already now achieved and even significantly exceeded the German federal government’s targets for the sustainable expansion of offshore wind energy. The government’s target for the North Sea and Baltic Sea together by 2020 is 6.5GW in total.

Expressed in absolute figures, the wind energy transmitted by TenneT from the North Sea reached a new record of 20.21TWh in 2019 (16.75TWh in 2018). TenneT managing director Tim Meyerjürgens comments on the progress: “We are pleased that we have already achieved the goal set by the federal government ahead of schedule and with the three other offshore grid connections currently being implemented, we will be capable of delivering 10,000MW of transmission capacity from the North Sea in 2025 in Germany alone.”

European figures for wind energy in 2019 are at a record high, as is the German offshore grid connection capacity of TenneT

Linkup
> See TenneT press release (html)
> See IWR press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

TenneT participates in Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition

13.01.2020

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT is continuously increasing the amount of sea-generated wind energy transmitted ashore. The TSCNET shareholder is also the initiator of the pioneering North Sea Wind Power Hub concept that combines generation, storage and transmission of wind energy with a multinational interconnection of North Sea riparian states. Now TenneT is also participating in the just founded international Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition to promote the sustainable use of marine renewable energy and reduce the harmful effects of climate change.

Not only wind power but also floating solar, tidal and wave power count among the maritime renewable energy potentials. According to a report by the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, together they could provide almost 10% of the annual greenhouse gas emission reductions needed by 2050 to keep global temperatures below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. However, offshore wind energy is likely to make up the largest part of this climate protection potential.

The Action Coalition was established in response to the High-Level Panel’s September 2019 call for ocean-related climate protection activities and brings together civil society, intergovernmental institutions and industry. It will represent the offshore wind sector in the global dialogue on climate change and be led by the Scandinavian power companies Ørsted and Equinor. The total of eleven partners will develop a vision for 2050, highlighting the actions to be taken to sustainably expand offshore wind energy, thereby contributing to the UN’s sustainable development goals and global decarbonisation targets. First results will be announced at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in June 2020.

TenneT is part of the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition to promote the sustainable use of renewable marine energy (picture: TenneT)

See article on single page

TransnetBW’s grid booster confirmed

22.12.2019

Power generation in Germany is changing rapidly in the course of the energy transition and increasingly large amounts of renewable electricity must be transmitted from the north and east to the south and west. If the generated electricity exceeds line capacities, the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) have to perform costly redispatch measures. The grid infrastructure clearly needs expansion, for which the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) have conceived the “Network Development Plan (NDP) 2030”, the 2019 version of which was published this spring. To minimise the need for grid extension and cut redispatch costs, the NDP includes innovations that could result from technological progress in the coming years. In addition to Power-to-X and monitoring systems, prototypes of so-called grid boosters are also considered.

TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the TSO from the southwest of Germany, plans a grid booster pilot at the Kupferzell substation near Schwäbisch-Hall in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg. The concept includes a fast power source in the shape of a large battery at the end of a line section that is subject to frequent strain and overload, which applies to the Kupferzell grid node. The grid booster that is envisaged, one of three in the NDP, will have an output of 250MW. The booster battery can supply energy within a few seconds. In periods of high grid load, the booster is intended to relieve the system in case of disturbances until the bottleneck can be eliminated in a targeted manner by the system management.

The Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the competent authority, has now approved the booster plans of TransnetBW. With this confirmation by the agency, the project can enter the procedure for inclusion in the Federal Requirements Plan, the government list of essential projects for the sustainable energy future of Germany. TransnetBW considers the grid booster to be a great opportunity to design and operate the grid infrastructure efficiently in the long term and is investing a high multi-digit million-euro amount in this environmentally friendly storage technology.

The Federal Network Agency confirms the plans of TransnetBW for a grid booster at the Kupferzell grid node (illustration using a picture of TransnetBW)

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

See article on single page

€2.9bn for Austria’s grid infrastructure

19.12.2019

Grid expansion planning needs to be transparent and internationally coordinated. Each TSCNET shareholder complies with this and the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG has just implemented these principles with its Network Development Plan 2019 (NDP2019). The thoroughly designed NDP has now been approved by E-Control, the government regulator for electricity and natural gas markets in Austria.

APG will invest €2.9bn over the next ten years to ensure the security of supply and the grid in Austria. Many investments are related to the decarbonisation of Austria and the implementation of the Austrian energy and climate strategy “#mission2030”, which sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030. Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG, explains that “many energy-intensive industrial and commercial enterprises will switch to electricity from renewable sources”. This requires extension measures and the NDP defines the infrastructure projects necessary to facilitate the transmission of the required electricity over the next ten years.

In addition to the very important Salzburg line (“Salzburgleitung”) and the Weinviertel Line (“Weinviertelleitung”) in Lower Austria, transmission capacities and power supply in the central Upper Austria region must be extended. To this end, a feed-in concept was developed for industrial customers. Also important is the speedy expansion of transmission capacities between Austria and Germany and between Austria and Italy.

The Austrian NDP2019 has been approved by the competent government regulator (picture: APG)

Linkup
> See APG press release (html)

See article on single page

525kV technology for Germany’s “power highways”

04.12.2019

SuedLink, SuedOstLink and A-Nord are large-scale DC connection projects that are essential for Germany’s low-carbon energy future, since these so-called “Stromautobahnen” (power highways) will transport green electricity generated in the north and east of the country to the consumption centres in the south and west. The three power lines will be implemented predominantly via underground cabling and are collaborative efforts of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). TenneT and TransnetBW cooperate on SuedLink, 50Hertz and TenneT join forces on SuedOstLink and A-Nord is carried out by Amprion. Together with Ultranet, a joint project with TransnetBW, A-Nord forms the Korridor A.

The four TSCNET shareholders intend to install innovative plastic-insulated DC cables with a voltage level of 525kV in these projects. So far, 320kV cables have been used for comparable DC connections in Germany. As a matter of fact, it will be the first use of 525kV underground cables worldwide, which underlines the pilot character of the three high-performance connections. The decision by the TSOs was preceded by an extensive test phase on the technical suitability of the 525kV cables. The pre-qualification tests according to international standards of the Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) were successful and proved that the 525kV cables are reliable and safe.

A higher voltage level of the cables translates into more transmission capacity. This has two possible effects for the planned DC lines, assuming technical feasibility for the entire system: On the one hand, more electricity can be transmitted in a certain corridor with the same number of cables. On the other hand, fewer cables are required to transmit the same power compared to 320kV cable systems. This allows the routing to be designed narrower, which reduces excavation work and environmental impact.

The four German TSOs opt for innovative 525kV solution for power highways with underground cabling (picture: TenneT)

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

See article on single page

New 50Hertz CEO takes up duties

03.12.2019

On 1 December, Stefan Kapferer took office as the new chairman of the executive board of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Until the end of October 2019, Kapferer headed the German Energy and Water Association (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft – BDEW). Kapferer succeeds interim CEO Dr. Frank Golletz, CTO of 50Hertz, who took over the additional duties after former CEO Boris Schucht had left the company in March 2019.

At a purpose-arranged press conference on 3 December in the German capital Berlin, Stefan Kapferer acknowledged the appeal and diversity of his new task. “The next phase of the realisation of the energy transition is an even greater challenge in terms of entrepreneurship and the European side of things. TSOs play an essential role here,” explained Kapferer. The main issues to be dealt with by 50Hertz are the German coal phase-out, following the current nuclear phase-out, the national legislative climate specifications and the grid extension which is essential for all these measures. For a Baltic Sea riparian TSO, it is particularly important to set the right course for the development of offshore wind energy.

Chris Peeters, head of the 50Hertz supervisory board, highlighted Kapferer’s wealth of political and international experience as former German State Secretary and Deputy Secretary General of the OECD and concluded: “I am convinced that Kapferer’s skills combined with the technical know-how of our staff will result in a great future for 50Hertz. Together we work for our goal: a successful energy transition.”

Stefan Kapferer is in office as new CEO of 50Hertz (picture: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls)

Linkup
> See 50Hertz press release (html)

See article on single page

Swift progress for new 50Hertz overhead line

29.11.2019

This May, TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), started the construction of the first section of the 380kV Perleberg-Wolmirstedt overhead line. The new line will connect the Perleberg substation in Brandenburg with the Wolmirstedt substation in Saxony-Anhalt over a distance of 106km and replace the existing 220kV line from the 1950s. This grid extension is intended to ensure that the increasing quantities of regionally generated electricity from renewable sources are also available to consumers in southern and western Germany.

The first construction phase with 87 pylons and a length of 37km stretches between the substations Stendal West and Wolmirstedt. Construction work is progressing rapidly. More than half of the pylons have now been erected and some masts have already been fitted with power cables. Construction should be completed by mid-March next year.

50Hertz has already erected 48 pylons of the Perleberg-Wolmirstedt overhead line (picture of the substation Wolmirstedt: Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg)

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

See article on single page