Czech grid expansion funded by EU

29.01.2017

Three Czech power line projects have been graded as projects of common interest and transnational importance by the European Commission and are subsidised by EU infrastructure funds. With these new 400kV lines, TSC member ČEPS, the Czech transmission system operator (TSO), contributes not only to grid stability and supply security in Czechia, but also to cross-border electricity trading and the developement of the pan-European transmission system.

One of the three lines has already been put into operation in September 2016 (with concluding works still going on). It runs from the substation Krasíkov to its counterpart Horní Životice, thus linking the Olomouc to the Moravian-Silesian region. The line has been funded with CZK 90m (about €3.3m). ČEPS hopes for further €2m for the planning of the nationwide power lines from Vítkov to Přeštice and from Vernéřov to Vítkov connecting the Moravian-Silesian region in the very east of Czechia to the westward regions of Karlovy Vary and Plzeň. The line construction is to be accompanied by the construction of a new electrical substation in Vítkov and the expansion of the already existing substation in Přeštice. The EU funds ČEPS has applied for are intended to prepare the documentation of zoning permits.

Jan Kalina, Chairman of the ČEPS Board of Directors, comments on the EU fundings: “The investment plan of the ČEPS Company includes projects, which ensure reliable operation of the transmission system in the Czech Republic and also contribute to meeting European targets with regard to the security of the whole interconnected system.”

> See ČEPS press release (html)

Picture: ČEPS

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Final TYNPD version released

21.12.2016

After two years of expert development and several months of joint public consultation since the first publication of the 10-year network development plan (TYNDP) in June 2016, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has published the final version of the TYNDP 2016 on 20 December. The TYNDP is currently with the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) for the Agency’s official opinion.

The central topic of the TYNDP 2016 is the specification of the European power grid in view of Europe’s climate objectives for 2030. The included studies clearly reveal the indispensability of extending the current grid to shift large amounts of renewable electricity from the generation places to the consumption centres. Demand response, new storage solutions and an improved energy efficiency alone will not be sufficient to meet the requirements of Europe’s future electricity market.

The ENTSO-E TYNDP 2016 comprises insight reports, regional investment plans and a scenario development report. The publication is accompanied by the full stakeholder consultation report and the complete data underlying the TYNDP studies.

> See ENTSO-E press release (html, with access to TYNPD)

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ČEPS grows with its challenges

24.11.2016

Czech transmission system operator (TSO) and TSC member ČEPS is satisfied with the development of the company in the third quarter of 2016. The TSO’s main outcome in this period is the extension of the national transmission grid by nearly 180km. In September, ČEPS successfully put two new power lines into operation: One line from northwest to central Bohemia, connecting the substations Výškov and Čechy Střed, and another line from Krasíkov to Horní Životice linking the Olomouc to the Moravian-Silesian region.

According to Jan Kalina, Chairman of the ČEPS Board of Directors, the power line in Bohemia ensures “the reliable capacity transfer from both existing and prospective generation sources.” Furthermore, it can be regarded as part of a defense system against overflows from Germany. Further important instruments of the transnational grid stability management are the four phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) for the northern Bohemian substation in Hradec u Kadaně. Although only three of them have been delivered in early June (the fourth did not pass the ČEPS acceptance tests at the Italian manufacturing site), the installation of the three delivered PSTs has been completed by the ČEPS engineers. The PSTs are the primary tool of ČEPS to avoid cross-border redispatching in the future. Redispatch measures are effective in securing grid stability but extremely expensive. For several times in the third quarter of 2016, multilateral redispatching has been necessary involving the Czech, Austrian and German transmission systems.

From January to September 2016, ČEPS transferred a total of 43,077GWh of electric energy. In financial terms – with profits reaching CZK 1.6bn (about €59m) – the third quarter of 2016 met the company’s expectations. What is more, the company succesfully entered into the bond market of the Prague Stock Exchange. On 30 September, ČEPS issued bonds with a total face value of CZK 500m. The carefully planned bond output belongs to a long-term strategy. Jan Kalina explains the modus operandi of the Czech TSO: “Upgrade and development of the transmission system and its safe operation, which is our first priority, is impossible without efficient collection of the foreign resources needed to finance our investment program.”

> See ČEPS press release (html)

Picture: ČEPS

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Ongoing debate on Austrian-German price zone split

09.11.2016

Yesterday, a majority of European electricity regulators supported a draft decision by the Director of the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) entailing a split-up of the common electricity price market between Austria and Germany. Notwithstanding, the Austrian energy regulator E-Control has announced to continue supporting the maintainance of the common price zone and to appeal against the decision. The German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft, BDEW) criticises the plans as well. Stefan Kapferer, chairman of the general executive management board of BDEW, affirmed that the introduction of congestion management at the Austrian-German border counteracts the goal of an integrated European electricity market and reduces the pressure on the indispensable grid expansion in Germany.

About two weeks ago, the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency), the competent German authority in terms of grid management, called in on the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSC members 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW to engage in preparations for a transport capacity management at the Austrian-German border. The agency’s aim is to implement a functioning capacity management until July 2018. This would include the the decoupling of the joint Austro-German price zone.

The Bundesnetzagentur considers the transmission grids in Germany, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic as technically uncapable of transporting all the electricity exchanged. Therefore the respective TSOs up to now would have to carry out very costly redispatching measures to ensure grid stability. Jochen Homann, President of the Bundesnetzagentur, comments: “The need for redispatching drops considerably when congestion management is in place to ensure that exchanges in electricity are based on the transport capacity that is technically available.” With its suggestions, the Bundesnetzagentur followed recommendations of ACER.

The Austrian TSO and TSC member APG is not convinced that an artificially created congestion at the Austrian-German border would be helpful for managing German and European net capacity problems. Ulrike Baumgartner-Gabitzer, chief executive officer of APG, explains that breaking up the only cross-border electricity market currently operating in Europe would hardly be beneficial in view of the deepening of EU’s internal electricity market. Gerhard Christiner, APG’s chief technical officer, complements: “Establishing artificial trade barriers would be a measure of only little impact.” In Christiners opinion, the main reason of grid insufficiency is the unsatisfactory grid expansion.

> See APG press release, in German (html)

> See E-Control press release (html)

> See BNetzA press release from 28 October (html)

> See BMWi press release from 28 October (German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, html)

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Wahle-Mecklar-line goes partially underground

16.10.2016

The new 380kV power line from Wahle in Lower Saxony, Germany, to the northern Hessian town of Mecklar is one of the largest onshore projects of TSC member TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The line with a total length of about 230km will increase the capacity for the transmission of wind energy from the north to the south of Germany and also ensure the supply security and grid stability in Lower Saxony and North Hesse.

On 24 October 2016, TenneT starts preliminary soil investigations in the region of Westerlinde between Hildesheim and Salzgitter in Lower Saxony. Here, the power line is to be realised by means of underground cabling for a length of about 14km. The investigations also include laboratory examinations of soil samples to provide information on the qualities of the subsoil. Subsequent to the creation of a floor profile, the planning of a concrete route for the underground cabling can be carried out. Keeping the environmental impacts of the new line as low as possible throughout the whole planning and building process is of greatest concern to TenneT. Therefore the proceedings will be supervised by independent experts.

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

Picture: TenneT

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Roofing ceremony for BorWin3 converter station

07.10.2016

BorWin3 is one of the twelve offshore grid connection projects that have been commisioned by TSC member TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The submarine cable line is destined for connecting offshore wind farms in the German North Sea to the onshore electricity grid. More precisely, BorWin3 will connect TenneT’s offshore converter platform BorWin gamma to the onshore converter station in Emden/Ost, this with a transmission capacity of 900MW and a length of 160km. Now the competent project managers from TenneT and its construction partner Siemens were glad to celebrate the topping out of the Emden/Ost converter station.

To minimise power loss during the long distance transportation, BorWin3 is designed as a high-voltage DC transmission line. BorWin gamma converts the wind generated three phase AC current into DC, the converter station Emden/Ost does the reconversion. Preparatory works in Emden/Ost started in 2013. The completion of the whole grid connection system – including the submarine cable, onshore underground cabling, converter station, converter platform and a substation in Emden/Ost – is expected for 2019, according to TenneT’s current planning.

At the present time, eight of TenneT’s grid connection projects have already been put into operation. Together they count for 4,300MW connection capacity. This means that two thirds of the German federal government’s renewable expansion targets (6,500 MW by 2020) is being met by TenneT as early as now.

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

Picture: TenneT

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Amprion banks on underground cables and dialogue

06.10.2016

The projected DC power line A-Nord from Emden at the German North Sea coast to the area of Osterath near Düsseldorf in North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the key projects of the German energy transition. The grid expansion in Germany is essential in order to transport sustainable energy from the north of the country to the industrially higher developed regions in the west and south. The decision of the German Federal government on the primacy of underground over overhead cables has prompted TSC member Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), to redesign possible routings of A-Nord fundamentally.

Amprion’s aim concerning A-Nord is to figure out route options for the underground cabling that are as straight as possible. At the same time the TSO has to consider the legitimate concerns of affected citizens and also the environmental impacts of the earth cable routings. Therefore the company starts its project related publicity work right at the very first stage of the plannings for A-Nord. Amprion’s project manager Klaus Wewering explains: “In the early planning phase we focus on the dialogue in the regions before we sketch concrete courses.” Naturally, the dialogue will not only involve citizens and interest groups, but also local authorities and politicians.

The federal authority to supervise the A-Nord development is the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency), the competent German authority in terms of grid expansion. A-Nord will probably have a total length of about 300km. With regard to all necessary steps of the public campaign and the official approval procedure, the commisioning of A-Nord is scheduled for 2025.

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “Planfeststellung: Festlegen der exakten Leitungsverläufe” (Bundesnetzagentur, YouTube)

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Underground cables in Aargau

05.10.2016

The Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) and TSC member Swissgrid plans to upgrade the 220kV power line between Beznau (Swiss Canton of Aargau) and Mettlen (Canton of Lucern) to 380kV. A part of the new overhead line at the sensitive ecosystem of the “Gäbihübel” will be realised by means of underground cables on a length of about one kilometre. On 19 July 2016, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy granted planning approval for the upgrade of the section between Beznau and Birr (Aargau).

Swissgrid still had to wait a legal period of thirty days for possible complaints against the project. Since no objections were received during this time, the approval of the Federal Office now has become legally binding and the bottleneck situation for the Swiss electricity grid in Aargau can be resolved. Swissgrid will immediately take all necessary preparatory actions. The construction itself is set to start in autumn 2017 and will take about three years.

The underground cabling at “Gäbihübel” will be accompanied by a scientific programme in order to draw conclusions on high voltage underground cables in general and on the calculation of the cable dimensions in particular.

> See Swissgrid press release (html)

Picture: Aargau (“-c2k-“, CreativeCommons)

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German North Sea wind energy reaches record level

30.09.2016

In the first half of 2016, TSC member TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has transmitted 5.18TWh of electric power from offshore wind farms in the German part of the North Sea into the German grid. With these impressive figures, TenneT has more than doubled the power feed of the first half of 2015 (2.26TWh).

This also implies that TenneT will meet the renewable expansion targets defined by the German federal government untimely: Already now the TSO has implemented two thirds of the governmental goals set for 2020. Lex Hartmann, managing director of TenneT, explains that “the wind power from the North Sea transmitted by TenneT alone already accounted for 12.6% of the total German wind power generation in the first half 2016”. However, the TSO’s success is destined to be fruitless, if the grid expansion in Germany does not comply with the increasing amount of energy from renewable sources: “In order that the electricity generated at sea also gets to where it is needed, the onshore grid expansion in the future has to keep pace with the expansion of the renewables”, adds Hartmann.

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

Picture: TenneT

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SuedLink and SuedOstLink go underground

28.09.2016

To make the energy transition in Germany – and beyond in all of Central Europe – a success, it is necessary to increase the transport capacities for electrical energy in Germany. First of all, electricity needs to be transferred from the renewable energy producing north of Germany to the industrially highly developed and energy consuming south. For this purpose, sufficient extra-high voltage lines, often referred to as “Stromautobahnen” (“electricity highways”), have been conceived by transmission system operators (TSOs) in cooperation with authorities and associations. Among the most important of these new highly efficient power lines are the SuedLink from Schleswig-Holstein to Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg and the SuedOstLink from Saxony-Anhalt to Bavaria.

Originally, SuedLink and SuedOstLink were both mainly designed as DC overhead lines. These plans caused protests in the affected public and also reservations on the part of the Bavarian government. Eventually, the German Federal government decided on the primacy of underground over overhead cables. The governmental decision forced the respective TSOs to fundamental redesigns concerning the routings of SuedLink and SuedOstLink. The competent TSOs and TSC members 50Hertz, the TSO in the northern and eastern part of Germany, Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, and TransnetBW, the TSO in south-west Germany, now have presented their plans for possible routes. Since both line projects affect the operational areas of two of the aforementioned TSOs, both are consequently joint ventures: Suedlink is a cooperation of 50Hertz and TenneT and SuedostLink combines the skills of TenneT and TransnetBW. The most important news announced by the TSOs is that both power lines are completely going to be realised by means of underground cabling. Lex Hartmann, managing director of TenneT, refers to the earth cables as “wish of the citizens, for which the policy has paved the way”.

The proposals for cable corridors strictly follow the legal requirements and the specifications of the approval authorities. They are envisaged as the central part of the permit application to be submitted to the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency), the competent German authority in terms of grid expansion. Still, the plans are to be regarded as tentative propositions intending to open the discussion with authorities and the affected public. All three TSOs are planning a public campaign in the fall and winter of 2016 with information and discussion events in far more than fifty cities and communities altogether. Dr. Werner Götz, member of the TransnetBW executive board, explains that the TSOs seek the dialogue with the public “even before the application process”. In addition to the public events, 50Hertz, TenneT and TransnetBW are displaying maps of the suggested cable routings on their respective websites.

> See 50Hertz and TenneT on SuedOstLink, in German (pdf, 118kb)
> See TenneT and TransnetBW on SuedLink, in German (pdf, 118kb)
> See TransnetBW video statement, in German (html, YouTube)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “Erdkabel: Von der Theorie zur Praxis” (Bundesnetzagentur, YouTube)

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