Ernen-Ulrichen 380kV line in operation

21.10.2019

With the erection of the last of a total of 57 pylons, the new extra-high voltage line between the Ernen and Ulrichen substations in the Swiss canton of Valais has now been completed. The 30-kilometre section is part of the 380kV Mörel-Ulrichen line project of TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO). The line upgrade in the Rhône Valley is vital for the future of Switzerland’s energy supply: In order to fully transfer the hydropower generated in the Valais to the urban areas of Switzerland, the lines of the south-western canton must be connected to the supra-regional 380kV transmission grid, particularly in view of the commissioning of the new Nant de Drance pumped storage power station, scheduled for 2020.

The existing 220kV overhead line between Ernen and Ulrichen is already disconnected. Its 177 pylons will be dismantled from spring 2020 and the former pylon locations will be recultivated. Swissgrid is additionally carrying out nature conservation projects of national importance in the vicinity of the new line. Also starting next year, the Swiss TSO will continue its Valais upgrade project with the new construction of the next section between Ernen and Mörel-Filet, which is expected to be commissioned as 380kV line by the end of 2022.

Swissgrid has commissioned the new 380kV line between Ernen-Ulrichen (picture: Swissgrid)

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Randstad 380kV North Ring in operation

14.10.2019

The four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) and their surroundings constitute the Randstad region in the Netherlands. With a population of more than 8 million people, it is Europe’s most densely populated area. Randstad has a high energy demand, which needs to be reliably met and secured also in the future. However, infrastructure construction measures are particularly challenging in such a conurbation. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has now made an elementary contribution to security of supply of the Randstad.

After a construction period of five years, the 60-kilometer-long Randstad 380kV North Ring power line was put into operation on 10 October. More than 1000 people from the region, 300 landowners, over 25 responsible authorities, 13 contractors and 200 TenneT employees were involved in its construction. The new high-voltage line will reliably supply millions of households and companies with electricity. It will also provide the transmission capacity required for green electricity from North Sea wind farms. As a complementary measure, the existing 150kV connections in the region were adapted and two new high-voltage substations have been built in Beverwijk and Vijfhuizen.

At 151 locations along the route, Tennet installed innovative Wintrack pylons that consume less space, reduce magnetic field zones and, due to their slim and streamlined shape, fit much better into their surroundings than conventional steel lattice pylons. Ten kilometres of the North Ring have been laid underground. The aluminium cables used by TenneT are a novelty. They are cheaper than conventional materials and conduct electricity more efficiently, which means that their carbon footprint is smaller.

TenneT has commissioned the Randstad 380kV North Ring (picture of the opening ceremony with TenneT CEO Manon van Beek and COO Ben Voorhorst: TenneT)

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€215m for green connection capacity

11.10.2019

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT plans to invest a further €215m to connect two GW of green electricity from solar and wind farms in the north of the Netherlands to the grid. The infrastructural measures include the construction of two new 380/110kV high-voltage substations in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe. In addition, the TSCNET shareholder intends to provide extra capacity at nine existing 110kV substations in the northern Netherlands.

One GW corresponds roughly to the output of 3.5 million solar modules or 200 wind turbines. The additional capacity planned by the TSO is therefore considerable, but according to Ben Voorhorst, COO of the TSO, as many solar and wind farm transmission requests as possible should be complied with. Already now TenneT operates projects in the northern Netherlands with a volume of more than €1bn. This level of investment is now being further increased, with the TSO focusing strongly on the sustainability and efficiency of the investments. “The better the capacity expansions of electricity grids are actually utilised, the better the consumer’s money is spent,” explains Voorhorst.

TenneT invests €215m in the connection of renewable energies in the northern Netherlands (picture: TenneT)

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Delay for the Bassecourt-Mühleberg line upgrade

07.10.2019

With the decommissioning of the Mühleberg nuclear power plant in the canton of Bern at the end of 2019, part of Switzerland’s energy production in the central Swiss Plateau will cease. In the medium term, this shortage will have to be offset by higher production from Swiss power plants or by energy imports from abroad. This is particularly important in winter, when Switzerland is dependent on additional energy imports.

TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO), is therefore upgrading the Bassecourt-Mühleberg power line from 220kV to 380kV and equipping the Mühleberg substation with a new 380/220kV transformer to ensure security of supply in the greater Bern area and the entire central region of the Swiss Plateau. The modernisation of the line will require adjustments to 54 of a total of 142 existing pylons and will not affect the landscape. Both upgrade measures are part of the “Strategic Grid 2025”, Swissgrid’s ambitious grid modernisation and expansion plan.

While the installation work for the new transformer in Mühleberg continues, a delay of two years in the voltage increase of the Bassecourt-Mühleberg line is expected due to legal complaints against the line upgrade. In August, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy approved the line upgrade and rejected the objections, which mainly concerned the exposure to magnetic fields and noise or the need to relocate the line or to use underground cables. Various complainants have now appealed against this decision of the Federal Office to the Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland, thus preventing further progress.

The upgrading of the Bassecourt-Mühleberg power line by Swissgrid will be delayed (picture: Swissgrid)

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First cables of ALEGrO installed

27.09.2019

The “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay” (ALEGrO) will be the first direct interconnector of the German and Belgian electricity grids. Its transmission capacity of 1,000MW is going to significantly increase cross-border electricity flows and security of supply in the regions surrounding the new converter stations at the respective ALEGrO end points, Niederzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is jointly being implemented by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and the Belgian TSO Elia.

In the summer of 2019, several teams were working simultaneously at different points along the 41km-long ALEGrO section in Germany on the installation of the conduit system for the underground cables. Underground cabling is used exclusively for the entire German-Belgian power bridge. Due to the dry summer, construction work on the DC link has progressed rapidly: 60 percent of the cable conduits have already been completed. Amprion is now beginning to pull the 320kV cables successively into the conduits, initially in Niederzier, where the construction of the new ALEGrO converter plant is also progressing well.

Amprion starts the installation of ALEGrO underground cables (picture: Rheinhard Nießing / Amprion)

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TYNDP2020 applications from infrastructure projects

26.09.2019

The biennial Ten-Year Network Development Plans (TYNDPs) are compiled by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) with the participation of the member transmission system operators (TSOs). The TYNDPs derive from the in-depth identification of Europe-wide power-related key investments and infrastructure projects with high potential.

From mid-October to mid-November, ENTSO-E accepts applications for electricity and storage projects for the forthcoming TYNDP2020. To assist project promoters in preparing their submission sufficiently, ENTSO-E yesterday published a guidance for applicants. The guideline contains information on the procedure and timetable for applying to TYNDP2020, the administrative and technical criteria to be met by the projects and the documents and information to be submitted to verify compliance with these criteria. The guide is supplemented by the demonstrative slide presentation “Applying to the TYNDP2020 – A visual guide to the main steps”.

The application period for the TYNDP2020 starts in mid-October

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Central project management and office for SuedLink

24.09.2019

The SuedLink extra-high voltage line is not only the most important individual project of the energy transition in Germany, but also the largest underground cable project in the world: Around 700 kilometers of cable will be laid and around ten billion euros invested. By connecting the windy regions of northern Germany with the consumption centres in the industrially highly developed south, “power highways” such as SuedLink are indispensable for achieving Germany’s and Europe’s climate goals. SuedLink is implemented jointly by the two TSCNET shareholders TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and TransnetBW, the TSO from southwest Germany.

In order to efficiently advance the further approval procedure and the subsequent construction of SuedLink, the two TSOs have commissioned the international technical service company Jacobs as central service provider. The aim is to coordinate and control the various tasks such as planning, approval, obtaining easements and construction under one roof. This makes SuedLink the first major project in Germany in which an external central service provider is involved. TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens explains why the two partners decided on a model that has proven itself many times in such large-scale projects on the international market: “The schedule for implementation is challenging. At the same time, the expectations of politics and the public continue to rise. For this very reason, controlling and coordination play such an important role.”

The commissioning of Jacobs is accompanied by the opening of the central SüdLink office in Würzburg, Lower Franconia. Together with the central service provider, TransnetBW and TenneT will initially create 130 jobs there, the number of which will rise to 250 in the course of the project. To better incorporate regional knowledge into the planning process, further decentralised project offices are to follow along the route. Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, comments on the development: “By commissioning a central service provider and setting up a joint project facility in Würzburg, we have laid the foundations for the successful implementation of this major project.” The staff in Würzburg will include engineers, archaeologists, landscape planners, biologists, geologists, and project managers, all joining forces for Europe’s energy future.

TenneT and TransnetBW commission a central service provider for the implementation of SuedLink (picture: TenneT / Katja Schubert)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> See TransnetBW press release on the office opening, in German (html)

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50 new pylons for the Pradella-La Punt line

19.09.2019

The extra-high voltage line in the Swiss Engadine between Pradella/Scuol and La Punt represents a bottleneck in the Swiss and the European transmission grid. To remedy this shortcoming, TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO), began upgrading the 380kV line to 2 x 380kV in October 2017. This will increase import capacity from the north, strengthen interconnections with Austria and Italy and facilitate the transport of hydropower in the canton of Grisons. The project also improves security of supply in Switzerland and is part of the “Strategic Grid 2025”, Swissgrid’s ambitious modernisation and expansion plan.

Basically, the upgrade means that Swissgrid will attach a second 380kV line to the pylons, which are originally fitted with only one line on one side. Over the past two years, the TSO has reinforced the mast foundations between Pradella and La Punt and will complete this work in autumn. But Swissgrid has also examined the static of the pylons and discovered that some of them have insufficient load capacity for the second circuit. For safety reasons, it was thus decided to replace 50 of altogether 127 masts instead of reinforcing them. This change has no impact on the routing, but on the schedule: The commissioning of the upgraded line will be delayed by at least one year and is now planned for 2022.

Swissgrid has to erect 50 new pylons for the Pradella-La Punt line (picture: Swissgrid)

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Reconstruction start at TransnetBW substation

18.09.2019

On September 18, TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), started the conversion of its substation in Schwörstadt with a symbolic cut of the spade. The construction site is located in the furthest southwest of the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg near the Swiss border. The upgrade provides the technical basis for connecting the substation to the 380kV extra-high voltage grid.

Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, referred at the groundbreaking ceremony to the steadily increasing share of renewables in the electricity mix, which confronts TSOs with maintaining voltage at a stable level despite the changing wind and weather conditions. “We are preparing the substation for the requirements of the energy transition and thus are also strengthening supply security in the Upper Rhine region.”

The reconstruction of the substation’s switchgear will be carried out in two stages, starting with the dismantling of the operations building and the switch panels of the existing 220kV switchgear. By 2021, the new 380kV switchgear will have been installed. The new device will initially be operated at 220kV before being connected to the 380kV grid in 2023. This implies that at the same time and section by section, the corresponding power lines will also be upgraded to 380kV.

TransnetBW starts conversion of the Schwörstadt substation (picture: TransnetBW; from left to right: Olaf Jungnitsch of GE Grid; Uli Glich, Project Manager Substations at TransnetBW; Christine Trautwein-Domschat, Mayor of Schwörstadt; Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board; Thorsten Schwarz, Managing Director GE Grid; Bernd Jauch, Head of Technology, Projects and Portfolio Management at TransnetBW)

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ČEPS half-year report: Profits support infrastructure

16.09.2019

In 2019, the Czech transmission system operator (TSO) ČEPS continues its extensive infrastructure investment programme to ensure that the development of the Czech transmission system meets the increasing demands of the rapidly changing energy sector. The profits now presented in the company’s half-year report facilitate these efforts considerably.

The TSCNET shareholder concluded the first half of 2019 with a pre-tax profit of CZK 2.3bn (about €88.84m) and a total revenue of CZK 11,903bn (about €460m), an increase of CZK 1,54bn in comparison to the same period in 2018. “Cross-border auctions account for 38% of revenues,” explains Martin Durčák, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ČEPS. As far as the TSO core business is concerned, a total of 32,760GWh was transferred in the first half of 2019.

An important infrastructure project completed in July 2019 is the connection of the Řeporyje-Prosenice line to the Mírovka substation. The branching of this almost 300km long line, which connects the periphery of Prague with the Olomouc region in the east of the country, will increase the safety and reliability of the Czech transmission grid. Other significant investment measures already implemented this year include the construction of the new Přeštice-Vítkov line linking the Plzeň to the Moravian-Silesian Region. In Vítkov, a new 420kV substation with a gas-insulated switchgear was installed to complement the new line construction.

ČEPS reports positive figures for the first half of the 2019 business year (picture showing Prague, Czechia: JÉSHOOTS)

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