NEDO Project meetings in Tokyo

24.04.2019

A three-year Slovenian-Japanese smart grid project was launched in November 2016. The main partners are the Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO), its authorised contractor Hitachi, the multinational conglomerate, and TSCNET shareholder ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO). In addition to ELES, numerous Slovenian stakeholders also contribute to the NEDO Project, the aim of which is to implement a smart grid at national level. For the power system, the benefits lie in innovative solutions that reduce the need for grid extension, as the use of advanced secondary equipment, information, communication and cloud technologies allows better utilisation of the existing grid.

Last week, two NEDO Project meetings took place in the Japanese capital Tokyo. On 17 April, Gorazd Ažman, Assistant Director of the Strategic Innovation Department at ELES, and a representative of Hitachi informed the members of the NEDO Project Steering Committee and the Advisory Board about the current project activities in the Hitachi premises. The next day, a second meeting followed, this time at the NEDO headquarters with high representatives of the Japanese Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, ELES, NEDO and Hitachi.

ELES and Hitachi held two NEDO Project Meetings in Tokyo (collage using a picture of Eles and a picture of Hitachi Headquarters in Chiyoda, Tokyo, by Kakidai, Creative Commons, Wikimedia)

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> See ELES press release (html)

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New 380kV line in Valais

17.04.2019

The complete transmission of hydroelectric power generated in the Swiss Canton of Valais to the country’s urban areas is essential for the future of Switzerland’s energy supply: Without the connection of the Valais transmission lines to the 380kV grid, only around two-thirds of Valais hydropower can be transmitted as soon as the new Nant de Drance pumped storage plant goes into operation. That is why increasing the voltage of the line between the Chippis and Mörel substations in the Rhone valley from 220 to 380kV is an important part of the “Strategic Grid 2025”, the grid modernisation and expansion plan of TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission grid operator (TSO).

Swissgrid is planning the new construction of a 380kV overhead line with a length of around 44 kilometres, which will bypass and relieve settlement areas as far as possible. The existing 220kV line will be dismantled after the new line is commissioned. As with every grid project, Swissgrid has evaluated both cable and overhead line variants for Chippis-Mörel, with the result that underground installation would not only be very costly and time-consuming but would also not generate any significant added value for the natural landscape.

At the end of March 2019, Swissgrid submitted the planning approval procedure to the Swiss Federal Inspectorate for Heavy Current Installations (Eidgenössisches Starkstrominspektorat – ESTI) and also engages in dialogue with the population, the municipalities, the authorities and associations. The TSO’s current planning foresees commissioning of the line in 2025, but in the event of objections and legal proceedings, initial operation may be delayed by several years.

Swissgrid will build a new 380kv overhead line between Chippis and Mörel in Valais (picture: Swissgrid)

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> See Swissgrid media release, in German (html)

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First Borssele cable ashore

17.04.2019

Last weekend, the first submarine cable from the Borssele Alpha transformer platform landed on the Dutch coast, marking a significant progress in connecting the Borssele offshore wind farm area in the southwest part of the Dutch North Sea to the onshore high-voltage grid of TSCNET shareholder TenneT. The Borssele grid connection is the first large-scale project of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) carried out under the Dutch National Energy Agreement for offshore wind farms.

The last section of the cable laying was quite critical due to the crossing of a ferry route, but during the closure of the shipping traffic everything went according to plan. After the landing of the submarine cable, its installation was continued ashore up to the newly constructed onshore transformer substation. In the coming weeks preparations will be made to connect the second submarine cable for the Borssele Alpha project to the transformer station.

The first submarine cable of the Borssele grid connection of TenneT has reached the coast (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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Ostwind 1 in full operation

16.04.2019

Among the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), 50Hertz is mainly responsible for the onshore connection of wind farms in the German Baltic Sea. The Ostwind 1 project of the TSCNET shareholder for connecting the Arkona and Viking wind farms in the “Westlich Adlergrund” cluster in the Baltic Sea near the island of Rügen to the onshore grid has now been finalised – after a construction period of three years and on time for the commissioning of the two wind farms. With a total investment volume of around €1.3bn, the budget was lower than anticipated.

Initial operation of Wikinger took place in autumn 2018, and on 16 April 2019, Arkona was also officially commissioned. Not only is Arkona the largest wind farm in the Baltic Sea, supplying the equivalent of around 400,000 households with electricity, but also its onshore connection sets new standards: Ostwind 1 is the first grid connection in the Baltic Sea with 220kV three-phase current technology to allow a higher transmission capacity. The submarine cables of Ostwind 1 end at the Lubmin onshore substation in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the current is converted to 380kV and fed into the 50Hertz transmission system.

As Arkona is operated by the German company E.ON in cooperation with the Norwegian company Equinor, the official inauguration ceremony in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Kjell-Børge Freiberg. On the occasion of the celebration, Dr. Frank Golletz, CEO of 50Hertz, commented on the Ostwind 1 converter platform and the exemplary collaboration during its construction: “This offshore platform has set a new standard. The good European cooperation will also be continued in the operation of the wind farm.”

With the official commissioning of the Arkona wind farm, the Ostwind 1 grid connection by 50Hertz has been completed (picture: Eskil Eriksen / Equinor ASA)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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Second draft of revised German GDP

16.04.2019

In early February of this year, the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW had submitted the first draft of the new 2019 version of their “Grid Development Plan (GDP) 2030” together with the Offshore GDP to the German Federal Network Agency. Both GDPs were also published for a four-week public consultation. The total of 906 comments and proposals on both GDPs have been incorporated into the second draft of the two GDPs, whenever purposeful and reasonable. This second draft has now been forwarded to the Agency and published on the joint GDP website.

While all the different scenarios of the GDP 2030 meet the official German target of 65 percent for renewable energies in gross electricity consumption, they differ in terms of technologies as well as storage and flexibility options. The TSOs respond in the GDP to the increase in the required transport capacity due to the gap in the German electricity market with the renewable generation mainly in the north and the consumption centres in the south and west. For the second draft of the GDP 2030, the TSOs have taken greater account of the possible German coal exit to ensure that the grid development measures identified in the scenarios are appropriate even in the case of an early and complete phase-out.

In all scenarios for 2030, the transmission capacity of the DC connections amounts to a total of 12GW, while the concrete figures for the need for grid reinforcements (2750 to 2800km) and new construction measures (1600 to 1700km) differ slightly. In the second draft of GDP, the TSOs carried out a cost-benefit analysis for a total of eight interconnectors and a reassessment of system stability. This analysis reveals a considerable need for reactive power compensation systems. As a result, the costs for onshore measures in scenario B 2030 increase from €52bn to €61bn compared to the first draft. The Network Agency will now evaluate the revised draft and adapt its own planning, which then must be confirmed by the Federal Government in the official Federal Requirements Plan.

The four German TSOs have published the second draft of the GDP 2030, version 2019 (picture: Amprion)

Linkup
> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See TenneT press release (html)
> See TransnetBW press release (html)
> Visit the GDP website (html)

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ČEPS: Solid finances and major investments

15.04.2019

The high revenues from cross-border capacity auctions and the higher than expected earnings from system services and transit flows were the main contributors to the successful business year 2018 of TSCNET shareholder ČEPS, the Czech transmission system operator (TSO). The company’s profit of CZK3.307bn (about €129m) before tax represents an increase of 14% in comparison to 2017. The total amount of energy transmitted through the Czech high-voltage grid has risen to 65,825 GWh, with a peak load of 11.964MW in February 2018.

ČEPS has also maintained its high level of investment: The TSO expended more than CZK3.8bn (about €148m) in the further development and modernisation of its transmission system. The most important ongoing investment projects include European Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) like the new 400kV double circuit line from Kočín in southern Bohemia to the Mírovka substation near Havlíčkův Brod in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, or the interconnections between the 420kV substations at Vernéřov (Karlovy Vary Region), Vítkov (Moravian-Silesian Region), and Přeštice (Plzeň Region).

Also worth mentioning are the modernisation and expansion of the Kočín substation, which is an important node of the transmission network and due to be completed in 2023, the start of construction for the modernisation of the Horní Životice substation in the Moravian-Silesian region and finish of upgrading the gas-insulated, metal-enclosed Chodow substation in Prague. These and other projects are part of the TSO’s long-term investment programme, the implementation of which is made possible by ČEPS’s stable financial position, strict cost control and good financial performance.

ČEPS reports on the successful business year (edited picture of construction work at Vítkov substation by Lubor Ferenc, Creative Commons, Wikimedia)

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> See ČEPS press release (html)

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Billions for the Austrian electricity infrastructure

12.04.2019

The electricity transmission system of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) is increasingly reaching its limits due to the restructuring of the energy system, notably through the integration of renewable energies. As a result, TSO interventions for grid stability and security of supply are currently causing monthly costs of €10m for Austrian electricity customers. APG is determined to respond with an even faster expansion of its high-voltage grid.

The recently granted official approval for the construction of the 380kV Salzburg Line (“Salzburgleitung”) is only the beginning of fulfilling the “#mission 2030”, the Austrian energy and climate strategy that sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030. APG has announced the “Austrian Electricity Infrastructure Billion” for further major projects to sustainably secure Austria’s power supply – the largest investment offensive to date into the Austrian transmission grid with a total of €2.5 bn over the next 10 years.

In addition to the Salzburg Line, there are two other large-scale projects: The expansion of the existing grid in the greater Linz Area and beyond (Project “Upper Austria Central Region”) and the replacement of the overhead line through the Weinviertel (“wine quarter”) in the northeast of Lower Austria. For the volatility management that will become more and more necessary in the future, APG is also pursuing innovation projects focusing on central topics like battery storage, digital substations or sector coupling.

“Full focus on renewables is the only sensible way,” explain Gerhard Christiner and Thomas Karall, CTO and CFO of APG respectively. However, they also emphasise that a strong transmission system is the precondition for the full integration of renewables, the decarbonisation targets of the industry, the full utilisation of the pumped storage potential in the Alps and the reduction of costs for grid-stabilising emergency measures.

APG launches billion-euro investment strategy for infrastructure (picture: screenshot taken from video “Wind braucht starke Netze”, APG/YouTube)

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> See APG press release, in German (html)

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EU funding for East Romanian 400kV line

10.04.2019

The planned overhead line from Gutinaș to Smârdan has been awarded a Project of Common Interest (PCI) by the European Commission. As an integral part of the PCI cluster “Black Sea Corridor” for increasing the transmission capacity between Bulgaria and Romania, the new 400kV double-circuit line with a length of approx. 140km and a capacity of 1380MVA will connect the existing 400kV substations Gutinaș and Smârdan in eastern Romania.

The project is being carried out by the Romanian transmission system operator (TSO) and TSCNET shareholder Transelectrica and will not only significantly contribute to strengthening the national power system and securing the electricity supply, but also to the integration of renewable energies from sustainable generation facilities in the Dobruja (Dobrogea) region. Moreover, the new high-voltage line will support regional and European market integration by providing North-South and East-West connections to complete the internal market and further develop the European electricity transmission infrastructure.

The Gutinaș-Smârdan line has now made further progress as it has been selected by the Romanian Ministry of European Funds for a European financing of €31m. This financial support is granted under the infrastructure programme “Programul Operațional INFRASTRUCTURA MARE” with the specific objective of increasing the capacity of the national power system for energy from renewable sources. Transelectrica’s total investment in the project amounts to €56.8m. Work on the new 400kV line will begin already this year and commissioning is scheduled until December 2022.

Transelectrica has received further European funding for the Gutinaș-Smârdan 400kV line (picture showing Gutinaș substation: Transelectrica)

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> See Transelectrica press release, in Romanian (html)

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Record-setting offshore connection

09.04.2019

The IJmuiden Ver offshore wind farm project in the Dutch sector of the North Sea will be equipped with two onshore connections from 2024 to 2030. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has announced to link the 6.1GW of the new offshore wind farms to the Dutch high-voltage grid via two 525kV DC cables with a capacity of 2GW – this will be the highest in the world. As a result of the increased capacity, only two instead of six cables will be required, resulting in lower costs, as well as less space requirements and environmental impact.

A total of four converter stations are required for the DC transmission, which prevents transport losses: two offshore converter platforms for converting the wind-generated AC into DC and two onshore converters for the reconversion. The 2GW connections are possible due to TenneT’s unique experience with HVDC grid connections in Germany, where TenneT will connect offshore wind farms with DC technology on a large scale. The TSO also uses the 525kV high voltage level for NordLink, the new international connection between Germany and Norway, as well as for the German onshore projects SuedLink and SuedOstlink.

TenneT has ambitious offshore plans, since the TSO has been commissioned by the Dutch government to connect a total of 9.6GW offshore capacity, of which 5.6GW will be realised with AC connections and 4GW with innovative DC connections. Together with the offshore wind farms already in operation, the offshore wind energy capacity is expected to reach 10.6GW in the Netherlands in 2030. Because of the considerable total capacity of IJmuiden Ver, the associated onshore connection is a core component of TenneT’s offshore grid development in the Netherlands.

Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the IJmuiden Ver project: “We are making an important contribution to accelerating the energy transition. Based on our experience with innovative technology in Germany, we can now help to realise the Dutch ambitions for the development of offshore wind energy with fewer cables, fewer platforms and less spatial impact and nuisance to the environment, both at sea and on land.”

TenneT connects Dutch offshore wind farm with a record capacity of 2GW (picture: TenneT , artist’s impression)

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> See TenneT press release, in Dutch (html)
> Open artist’s impression video (TenneT, YouTube)

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Research on impacts of underground cabling

04.04.2019

In Germany, it is a political objective to advance the grid expansion by installing underground cables. The Federal Government – and also the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) – hope by this means to increase public acceptance of the high-performance power lines needed to transmit electricity from the windy north of the country to the consumption-intensive south and west. But what the resident population may welcome, unsettles those through whose land the underground routes run, especially owners and cultivators of agricultural land.

The Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT itself would like to learn more about possible impacts of underground cabling on agriculture, for example in terms of soil physics or groundwater quality. The TSO has thus entered into a research cooperation with the Georg-August-University Göttingen. Together with members of the Departments of Agricultural Soil Science as well as Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, subsection Agribusiness Management, the long-term effects of three-phase underground cables on agricultural land will be investigated over a period of six years. For this purpose, a 2500m² test field for the construction and operation of 380kV underground cables is being set up at the Reinshof test farm near Göttingen in the German state of Lower Saxony.

The research partners hope to draw concrete conclusions from the test results for the construction of extra-high voltage underground cable routes as well as recommendations for recultivation measures. For these purposes, the operation of underground cables is simulated on the test field. Empty conduits are heated through heating tapes so that their thermal characteristics correspond to the power loss of real 380kV three-phase underground cables. In addition, the effects of the construction works are investigated. In this context, it is also of interest how long it takes until the original soil condition is restored.

TenneT is researching the long-term impacts of underground power transmission cables on agricultural land (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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