TransnetBW order for “bnBm” gas power plant

20.08.2019

TSCNET Services shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), has awarded Energie Baden-Württemberg AG (EnBW) the contract for the provision of a “special network equipment” (“besonderes netztechnisches Betriebsmittel”, bnBm). EnBW will construct and operate a gas turbine power plant with a capacity of 300MW at Marbach. The city is the birthplace of the poet Friedrich Schiller and is located about 20 kilometres north of Stuttgart on the Neckar River.

The special network equipment will not be available to the market, but will be used from 1 October 2022 as a “safety buffer” exclusively at the request of TransnetBW to ensure safety and reliability in the transmission grid. It thus serves as a further reserve for the safety and reliability of the electricity supply system.

“Behind us lies a demanding tendering procedure, because we had to procure a completely new product,” says Dr. Rainer Pflaum, Managing Director of TransnetBW. It was about access to a capacity that “helps to stabilise the power grid flexibly and reliably”. The new plant would be an important component for supply security in the region.

Together with the TSOs Amprion and TenneT, TransnetBW issued a call for tenders for the special grid technology equipment with a total volume of 1,200MW open to technology and Europe-wide at the end of June 2018. Altogether, the tenders cover four regions in southern Germany, each with a capacity of 300MW.

TransnetBW placed an order for the provision of a gas turbine power plant with a capacity of 300MW (picture: EnBW)

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BorWin3 in operation

12.08.2019

The offshore grid connection BorWin3 operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT in the German Bight is ready for feed-in since early August. This means that the total transmission capacity for offshore wind farms in the German North Sea is already 7.132GW. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has thus not only met the German government’s expansion targets for sustainable North Sea wind power – 6.5GW by 2020 – but has significantly exceeded them.

BorWin3, TenneT’s twelfth offshore grid connection project, brings a further 900MW capacity. After BorWin1 and BorWin2, it is the third connection that the TSO has implemented near the East Frisian island of Borkum using DC technology. The corresponding converter and transformer station were built at TenneT’s Emden/Ost site to feed the green energy into the onshore extra-high voltage grid. BorWin3 bridges a total distance of 160km. The submarine cable is 130km long and the last section ashore to Emden/Ost is completed by underground cabling.

The TSO can be satisfied with its own offshore progress, but TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens calls for further efforts, as the current rate of offshore wind expansion in Europe is not sufficient to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. “An accelerated, large-scale and internationally coordinated expansion is necessary,” explains Meyerjürgens. In this context, TenneT has just presented a feasibility study of the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept for the implementation of wind power distribution hubs in the North Sea. Meyerjürgens points out that with an internationally coordinated approach the connection and integration of large offshore wind energy capacities could be much more effective and cost-efficient than with continued individual national planning.

In early August, the offshore grid connection BorWin3 of TenneT was put into operation (picture of the offshore converter platform BorWin gamma: TenneT)

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TSO conditions for reserve capacity approved

05.08.2019

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs), the TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TransnetBW and Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, ensure the supply of electricity under all circumstances and thus hold reserve capacities as ultima ratio for unforeseeable and exceptional extreme situations on the electricity market. The reserve capacity is calculated at 2GW and the facilities to provide the capacity are determined every two years by the TSOs through a tendering procedure.

Last week, the Bundesnetzagentur (German Federal Network Agency) approved the new standard conditions for the reserve capacity which had been drafted by the TSOs. The standard conditions are the basis of the contractual relationship between the respective TSO and the operator providing the capacity. They are designed to be as transparent as possible and include, among other things, rules on the availability and use of the reserve system, remuneration or contractual penalties.

Due to the standard conditions, the potential participants in the tender procedure know the terms under which the reserve facilities must be operated and the legal consequences in case of failure of a plant. Now that the conditions have been approved, the tender for the first performance period can start as planned on 1 September 2019.

The German Federal Network Agency approved the TSO standard conditions for reserve capacity (picture: Bundesnetzagentur)

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TenneT on track for the energy transition

31.07.2019

Highly satisfactory business results and maintenance of the high level of 99.99% security of supply, are hallmarks of the half year report of the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder Tennet. The latter is a growing challenge for the transmission system operator (TSO) because of the increased feed-in of volatile renewable energy. But above all, the report illustrates the commitment of the TSO to the European energy transition.

To take further steps in shaping the energy system of the future, TenneT has launched a series of strategic initiatives and partnerships to join forces across sectors. TenneT is participating in a German power-to-gas pilot project and is working together with regional grid operators and market partners on smart solutions to optimise the use of existing electricity infrastructure. The TSO is also involved in blockchain pilots to create flexibility for balancing the power system from decentralised sources.

TenneT has further strengthened its position as a leading offshore TSO. In Germany, TenneT has awarded DolWin 5, the 14th offshore grid connection. TenneT will increase its current offshore transmission capacity from 6,232MW in the German North Sea to almost 9GW by 2024. In the Netherlands, too, the development of the offshore grid with the Borssele Alpha and Beta projects is on schedule. TenneT intends to provide a total of 10.6GW of connection capacity for Dutch offshore wind farms by 2030. The TSO is also carrying out several onshore projects to ensure the transport of the growing amount of green electricity and thus security of supply in its control areas. Important interconnecting projects are the NordLink cable connection, which is currently being built to directly link the German and Norwegian markets for the first time. The COBRAcable between the Netherlands and Denmark has “landed” at the Dutch shore and will go into operation this year.

These developments are complemented by solid and impressive figures: Underlying operating result (EBIT) rose from €362m (first half of 2018) to €407m in the first half of 2019. €1,094m (first half of 2018: €904m) were invested in the Dutch and German high-voltage grids (of which €612m in Germany) and a total of €1.75bn green bonds were successfully issued. Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the report: “We have embarked on an irreversible transition to a sustainable society and a new energy system. This requires investments, not only in new electricity connections, but also in innovations and digitalisation. We have to move to holistic energy system thinking and also work on solutions to make better use of the existing high-voltage grids. We are convinced that this is the way forward to limit social costs and at the same time maintain a very high security of supply.”

TenneT presents its half year report 2019 (picture: TenneT)

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50Hertz and TenneT awarded for PtG projects

26.07.2019

Last week, Peter Altmaier, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, announced the winners of the ideas competition “Reallabore der Energiewende” (“Real Laboratories of the Energy Transition), which aims to promote promising energy technologies of the future, especially in the field of hydrogen technology. The winners include the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from north-east Germany, and Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, as they are both involved in award winning projects.

Tennet is cooperating with Gasunie and Thyssengas for ELEMENT ONE, a power-to-gas (PtG) plant to be built in the German federal state of Lower Saxony, which will be capable of converting up to 100MW of electrical power into gas. ELEMENT ONE is in the planning phase, but the project partners are confident that the results of the project will provide crucial information on electricity and gas grid integration, the development of operator models and the regulatory environment. With their approach, they aim to accelerate the urgently needed transfer of technology and innovation from research to practice in the field of sector coupling and hydrogen technology.

Key technologies of energy supply
50Hertz is involved as associated partner in two winning PtG projects: “GreenHydroChem Mitteldeutsches Chemiedreieck“ in Saxony-Anhalt, and “Reflau – Referenzkraftwerk Lausitz“ in Brandenburg. These two projects also focus on sector coupling and hydrogen technology. The partners for GreenHydroChem are Siemens, Linde, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems (IMWS). With a 50MW electrolyser, regeneratively generated electricity is first to be converted into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then converted in refineries into base chemicals and methanol, which can be blended with conventional fuels for the use in the transport sector. With Reflau, the partners want to combine and test in practice key technologies of energy supply with renewable energies and hydrogen as a chemical storage.

Dr. Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, welcomes the support for innovative technologies: “With our involvement in the laboratories, we are specifically promoting the development of Power-to-X technologies for the energy market. Because if things get serious in a few years’ time, we will need proven and grid-compatible experience with this new technology.”

50Hertz and TenneT are among the winners of the German “Reallabore der Energiewende” competition for the promotion of innovative energy technologies (picture: Fraunhofer IMWS / Sven Döring)

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Fauna-friendly extension of Amprion substations

25.07.2019

TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is expanding its Siegburg substation in North Rhine-Westphalia, near the former seat of the West German government in Bonn. The planning is progressing well: By 2023, the existing 220/110kV substation is to be integrated into the 380kV grid. To this end, the current installations will be extended by a 380/220kV transformer and a gas-insulated switchgear at the 380kV voltage level. A new overhead line will connect the station to Amprion’s supra-regional transmission system.

But there is more to be told from Siegburg, as the substation provides a home for seven bee colonies. In May, further TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, reported on a pilot project on eco-friendly substation maintenance, and now Amprion also informs about new steps in this field: Around 350,000 bees of the Buckfast and the Carniolan breeds live in a specially fenced area and bring the nectar gathered on their flights back to the hives at the station. “We are very happy about our new neighbours,” says Klaus Breitbach, operations manager of the substation. “We hope that our new neighbours will thank us for the good location with one or the other glass of honey”.

News is also coming from the Bischoffsheim substation in the Rhine-Main Area. Here, too, Amprion is working on the grid of the future: To ensure security of supply for the region and the state capitals of Mainz (Rhineland-Palatinate) and Wiesbaden (Hesse), the TSO is expanding and modernising the existing 380kv system with a transformer and switch panels. On 27 July, Amprion expects the delivery of the 350MVA transformer. First, the transformer with a weight of around 350 tonnes is being transported by rail. The last 560 meters on the road will be taken over by a heavy haulage tractor unit with a length of 78 meters and two times twelve axles. The total weight of the transport unit is 574 tonnes.

Bees at Amprion substation

Amprion welcomes bee colonies to the Siegburg substation and is expecting a new transformer at the Bischoffsheim substation (picture: Amprion)

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High growth in renewables in the 50Hertz area

17.07.2019

The generation of power from wind and sun is increasing steadily and strongly in the control area of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the north-eastern German transmission system operator (TSO). 21.6TWh of wind power were generated in the first half of 2019, compared with only 16.6TWh in the corresponding period of the previous year. In the same time, photovoltaic generation amounted to 6TWh, which is an increase of almost 170GWh. This corresponds with the rise in the installed capacity of onshore and offshore wind turbines, which totalled 19.6GW in mid-2019 (mid-2018: 18.9GW) and the installed capacity of photovoltaic systems, which reached 11.1GW (mid-2018: 10.6GW).

Despite this capacity increase and the incrementing feed-in of electricity into the grid, 50Hertz was able to maintain stable costs for congestion management, such as interventions in the operation of conventional power plants and the temporary shutdown of renewable energy facilities. In the first half of 2019, redispatch costs amounted to around €13m and the costs for feed-in management to around €48m.

This increase in renewable generation and installed capacity from renewable facilities shows that northern and eastern Germany make an indispensable contribution to achieving the German government’s target of a 65% share of renewable energies in nationwide electricity consumption by 2030. However, from the TSO perspective of 50Hertz, the necessary grid extension must be pushed ahead in parallel to be able to transmit the green electricity to the consumption centres in the south and to keep congestion management costs under control.

The generation of electricity from renewable sources is increasing in the control area of 50Hertz (picture showing the transformer platform of the Baltic Sea wind farm Arkona: 50Hertz)

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TenneT’s “sea harvest” increases

15.07.2019

9.51TWh – this is the considerable total amount of offshore wind power that TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), transmitted from sea to land in the first half of 2019. This means that the first half of 2018 (8.17TWh) will be exceeded by a whopping 16%, while on the German market offshore wind energy accounts for a strong 15% of total wind energy generation. At the same time, the cost efficiency of new offshore grid connection systems has further improved in recent months through the standardisation of TenneT’s offshore grid connection systems and the combined expertise of TenneT as a leading TSO at sea.

With the connections currently planned and under construction, TenneT will increase offshore transmission capacity in the German North Sea to almost 9GW by 2024. However, current efforts in Europe will not be sufficient to achieve the climate targets of the Paris Agreement. TenneT therefore calls for a stronger expansion of offshore wind energy in Europe to create a low carbon energy future. TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens refers to international studies and scenarios that indicate that “an accelerated and large-scale roll-out is necessary”.

In this context, Meyerjürgens also points to the North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH) concept, for which a positive feasibility study has just been carried out. The North Sea has great potential for offshore wind power, and the NSWPH consortium’s approach could result in 180GW of offshore wind power by 2045. Meyerjürgens explains: “A future internationally coordinated approach could implement the connection and integration of a roll-out of large-scale offshore wind energy more effectively and at considerably lower costs of up to 30% than with continued individual national planning.”

Offshore wind energy transmission by TenneT rose to 9.51TWh in the first half of 2019 (picture of SylWin Alpha converter platform: Tennet)

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DA/RE project: first retrievals of redispatch capacities

11.07.2019

The Baden-Württemberg grid security initiative “DA/RE” (“DAta exchange/REdispatch”) addresses the increasing volatility and decentralisation of power generation. The aim is to stabilise the entire electricity system by utilising the flexibility potential of decentralised generation units from lower grid levels. Originally launched in the summer of 2018 by TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the German transmission system operator (TSO) from the state of Baden-Württemberg, and the southwest German distribution system operator (DSO) Netze BW, the project consortium was later expanded so that a total of three DSOs and four other partners from the areas of virtual power plants, home storage and energy trading were involved in the first DA/RE pilot phase from April to June 2019.

During this phase, the participants have defined and developed the method of data exchange and coordination. Following this successful implementation process, the first retrievals from pilot plants in the distribution network for redispatch purposes have now been initiated. Capacities were retrieved from battery home storage facilities, several biogas plants, a waste incineration plant and a cogeneration plant. The tests therefore involved both medium-voltage and low-voltage systems and the project partners have demonstrated that it is possible and important to make use of all flexibilities at all voltage levels for grid stabilisation.

“The retrievals from systems in the distribution network constitute a significant milestone for us, as they show that the concept is feasible and we are now able to gain initial experience in terms of practical suitability,” explains DA/RE project manager Florian Gutekunst from TransnetBW. The second stage of the pilot phase has thus begun. Further retrievals are now being carried out and various application cases are being tested. In concrete terms, the issue is how grid operators can trigger the retrieval of redispatch measures in a coordinated manner and how the information chain should be designed in order to guarantee all parties involved at all voltage levels complete transparency about the retrieval and the capacity provided. In the following third step, the retrievals are to be automated and the corresponding data paths implemented.

First retrievals of redispatch capacities have been carried out in the pilot phase of the DA/RE project (picture showing a scene from electricity trading: Next Kraftwerke)

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New ploughing technology for cable laying under test

10.07.2019

The 380kV line from Wahle in the German federal state of Lower Saxony to Mecklar in the state of Hesse is one of the underground cable pilot projects laid down in the German Power Grid Expansion Act (Gesetz zum Ausbau von Energieleitungen – EnLAG). For the construction of the line, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is testing a new ploughing technology for laying empty conduits, into which the three-phase underground cables will later be inserted.

The so-called multiple ploughing method was presented today in the Lower Saxony village of Wartjenstedt (near Hildesheim) to representatives from politics, authorities, associations and the media, as well as farmers and land users. At a test track of around 200 metres, the cable plough specialist company Frank Föckersperger and TenneT demonstrated how the specially developed cable plough can be used for the Wahle-Mecklar project.

Olaf Lies, Minister for the Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection of Lower Saxony, was impressed by the demonstration: “The test in Wartjenstedt shows that when installing underground cables, it is possible to minimise interference with the existing soil structure and reduce construction costs and time by using new laying techniques.” TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens complements: “TenneT aims to introduce the multiple ploughing method to the state-of-the-art technology to accelerate the grid extension. After about three years of research, it is a great success to test this important innovation on site for Germany’s longest 380kV underground cable section.”

If the test phase for the plough, which is to last until mid-October 2019, is successful, TenneT intends to use the new method on suitable sections of the Wahle-Mecklar project on a trial basis in spring 2020. Depending on the test results and the respective local conditions, TenneT expects a significantly reduced construction time for underground cable lines when using the multiple plough. Since experience with cable ploughing technology has so far only been available for lower voltage levels, TenneT is once again doing pioneering work to design the energy transition grid and establish new technologies.

TenneT is conducting field tests on new ploughing technology for laying underground cables (picture: TenneT)

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