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)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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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)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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€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)

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> See APG press release (html)

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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)

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

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Variable shunt reactor for SINCRO.GRID

03.12.2019

The two transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders ELES from Slovenia and HOPS from Croatia are cooperating in SINCRO.GRID. This cross-border smart grid initiative is coordinated by ELES and comprises in addition to the TSOs also two distribution system operators (DSOs) from both countries. The objective of the European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is to optimise the efficiency of the respective national transmission systems by means of advanced technologies and innovative data processing methods.

Since the substantial allocation of EU funding to SINCRO.GRID under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme in 2017, the project has made significant progress. A vital component of SINCRO.GRID is optimising and installing compensation devices for reactive power control, e.g. variable shunt reactors, which are used in high-voltage transmission systems for voltage stabilisation during load variations. Now the ELES substation in Divača in south-eastern Slovenia has been equipped with such a technically advanced device manufactured by Siemens in Austria. The assembly work is in full swing and is expected to be completed by 12 December. Preparatory work for commissioning will then commence immediately.

Another major component of SINCRO.GRID is a dynamic thermal rating system for power grid operating limits. The aim is to evaluate marginal capacities of transmission system components considering weather influences and thus to improve operational safety and utilisation of overhead lines and transformers. In addition to hard- and software in control centres, atmospheric measuring devices, which are installed directly at the pylons, are also part of the system. Corresponding tests of innovative weather stations are underway. Last week, the substructure for the weather station on the Kleče-Divača overhead line was field tested.

SINCRO.GRID advances technical innovations (picture: ELES)

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> See ELES press release (html)
> Visit SINCRO.GRID website (html)

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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)

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

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Kick-off for new Weinviertel Line

19.11.2019

The Weinviertel Line (“Weinviertelleitung”) in Lower Austria is in operation for more than 70 years. An elementary component of the grid of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO), the 220kV line is now in considerable need of rehabilitation. Apart from that, the routing of the existing line does not meet the requirements of the future energy system characterised by decentralised generation of the renewables. The Weinviertel Line reconstruction is therefore essential for 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.

The new 380kV Weinviertel Line will run from Seyring near Vienna to the substation in Neusiedl an der Zaya in the north-eastern Weinviertel. Here in Neusiedl, the ground-breaking ceremony for the new construction has now taken place. To the benefit of the environment and local residents, the new Weinviertel line requires 53 pylons less than the old one. “This is because we can dismantle the first eleven kilometres of the old line without replacement, as we will connect the new line with an existing line and feed it in there,” explained Gerhard Christiner and Thomas Karall, CTO and CFO of APG respectively. The investment costs for the new line amount to 200m euros.

Christiane Teschl-Hofmeister, a member of the Lower Austrian state government who attended the ceremony, commented: “With the new APG Weinviertel Line, Lower Austria will have an efficient and future-oriented grid connection for renewable energies from the region. The APG Weinviertel Line thus makes an important contribution to the Lower Austrian Climate and Energy Roadmap 2030.”

APG has started construction of the new Weinviertel Line (picture: APG; from left to right: Franz Mittermayer from Austrian energy company EVN, Thomas Karall, Christiane Teschl-Hofmeister and Gerhard Christiner)

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> See APG press release, in German (html)

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First pylon of new East Bavarian Ring erected

16.11.2019

The Ostbayernring (East Bavarian Ring) is an existing power line operated by the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT, that stretches about 185km from the Upper Franconian town of Redwitz via Mechlenreuth and Etzenricht to Schwandorf in the Upper Palatinate. After the shutdown of Northeast Bavarian nuclear and conventional power plants, the Ostbayernring primarily transports renewable energies. On several days of the year, more energy is generated by wind turbines and photovoltaic plants in the regions along the East Bavarian Ring than is needed locally. Due to the resulting increase in the amount of renewable energy fed into the grid, the East Bavarian Ring regularly reaches its capacity limits.

To ensure the security of supply and the reliability of the grid and to prevent grid failures for the entire region of Upper Franconia and Upper Palatinate, the transmission capacities of the East Bavarian Ring need to be significantly improved. A replacement construction for the East Bavarian Ring was therefore included in the German Federal Requirements Plan and the urgency of the project for the energy market was legally determined. The new line is being constructed along the existing route, extending the current 380/220kV systems to two 380kV systems.

In the course of the construction of the new East Bavarian Ring and the related grid reinforcement, the Redwitz, Mechlenreuth, Etzenricht and Schwandorf substations of the TSCNET shareholder are also being upgraded. Now the first pylon of the new Ostbayerring has been erected on the site of the Etzenricht substation. TenneT has captured the construction on film in order to give a well-founded impression of the erection process.

The first pylon of the new East Bavarian Ring of TenneT has been erected (picture: TenneT / screenshot taken from TenneT-video “TenneT Ostbayernring: Der Projektleiter stellt sich vor”, YouTube)

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> See TenneT tweet, in German (html)
> Watch video of the pylon construction (YouTube)

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GIS with Clean Air technology for Daxlanden

14.11.2019

In present-day gas-insulated high-voltage systems, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is commonly used as insulating gas. It has excellent electrical and chemical properties, but also a strong greenhouse effect. For reasons of climate protection, TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), focuses on eco-efficient technical concepts. In November last year, the TSCNET shareholder launched a pilot project at its substation in Obermooweiler, northeast of Lake Constance, with the world’s first gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) at extra-high voltage level using a climate-friendly alternative gas technology.

TransnetBW has now commissioned the new construction of the switchgear for the 380kV substation in Daxlanden near Karlsruhe, where the existing open-air facility will be replaced by two new GIS. Here, the TSO has opted for the so-called Clean Air technology, which exclusively uses processed air as an insulating medium instead of SF6. This significantly reduces the greenhouse effect of the entire switchgear system. The new GIS facilities will be built and commissioned gradually over the next few years and the existing open-air installation will be dismantled during ongoing operation.

The Daxlanden substation is an important network node in TransnetBW’s transmission grid and the central link between two grid construction projects from the German national Grid Development Plan for electricity (NEP), which contains essential grid extension projects to realise the energy transition. “A successful energy transition requires an efficient and future-proof transmission grid,” explains Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “The more we are pleased to be able to make an additional contribution to the environment and climate protection by using the innovative Clean Air technology in Daxlanden.”

TransnetBW will build two GIS with Clean Air technology in the substation Daxlanden (computer simulation of the reconstructed Daxlanden substation: TransnetBW)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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TYNDP 2020 Scenario Report

13.11.2019

The Ten-Year Network Development Plans (TYNDPs) are published every two years by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) and for gas (ENTSOG) with the participation of the respective member transmission system operators (TSOs). The TYNDPs support the European Commission in selecting Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) to be subsidised by European funds.

An EU regulation requires the ENTSOs to develop scenarios for their TYNDPs, and with the TYNDP 2020 the ENTSOs have designed these scenarios jointly for the second time. This cooperation makes sense because the scenarios not only serve to test the future needs and projects of the electricity and gas infrastructure, but also to investigate the interactions between gas and electricity grids in order to assess the infrastructure of a hybrid energy system.

The supply and demand data obtained from TSOs have resulted in the “National Trends” scenario, the central policy-based scenario that takes into account Member States’ national energy and climate plans as well as EU climate targets. The “Global Ambition” and “Decentralised Energy” scenarios are developed as full energy scenarios (not only for gas and electricity) and are in line with the objective of the Paris Convention. “These scenarios represent a comprehensive, reliable and contrasted set of possible energy futures that will allow the ENTSOs to perform a sound assessment of European infrastructure projects in the TYNDPs,” comments Laurent Schmitt, Secretary General of ENTSO-E.

The “TYNDP 2020 Scenario Report” featuring the draft versions of the scenarios has now been released by the ENTSOs and a formal public consultation on the scenarios will be launched shortly and will run until January. On 5 December, the ENTSOs will organise a public workshop in Brussels to present the TYNDP 2020 Scenario Report.

The ENTSOs have published their joint “TYNDP 2020 Scenario Report” (illustration using a picture by ENTSO-E/ENTSOG)

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> Visit TYNDP 2020 Scenario Report website (html)
> Open TYNDP 2020 Scenario Report (pdf, 4.48MB)
> Visit Scenarios data visualisation platform (html)
> Register for Scenario workshop (html)

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