Romanian legislation promotes energy infrastructure

21.06.2019

In Romania, a new law adopted by President Klaus Iohannis on 20 June facilitates nationally important extensions to the transmission system infrastructure. The act promotes the implementation of important investment projects for Romania’s energy security, the construction of overhead lines and compliance with time limits for projects with European financing.

The Romanian transmission system operator (TSO) and TSCNET shareholder Transelectrica expressly welcomes the new legislation. Marius Dănuţ Carașol, chairman of the Transelectrica Directorate, highlights the positive effects on the TSO’s expansion efforts, for example by reducing bureaucratic obstacles.

New Romanian legislation facilitates grid extension (picture showing the Parliament building in Romania’s capital Bucharest: Mari Ana / Pixabay)

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> See Transelectrica press release, in Romanian (html)

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Laying of NordLink submarine cable near completion

20.06.2019

NordLink, the “green cable”, which for the first time will directly connect the electricity markets of Germany and Norway, has reached another important milestone. With the pull-in of the submarine cable beneath the dyke at Büsum in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein on 19 June, the 154-kilometre section from the cable landing point at the dyke through the Wadden Sea and the open sea to the Danish territorial waters is almost complete. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), which is cooperating with the Norwegian TSO Statnet on this European project of common interest (PCI), had started to install the submarine cables for NordLink in the German Bight last year.

“With today’s successful pulling of the subsea cable beneath the land protection dyke, we have practically completed the laying of the NordLink subsea cable,” comments TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens. Now the 54-kilometre onshore cable section will be successively laid from the dyke to the converter site in Wilster. Since the laying of the submarine cable in Danish and Norwegian waters is also almost concluded with only a few remaining works, and the construction of the 53km overhead line on the Norwegian mainland is progressing well, NordLink is expected to be commissioned as planned in 2020.

For the submarine cable work, TenneT was in close consultation with nature conservation authorities to ensure that operations in the Wadden Sea National Park were conducted as carefully as possible. Upon completion, the NordLink high-voltage DC interconnector will have a capacity of 1,400MW and a total length of 623km. By coupling different renewable energies and forms of storage – Norwegian hydropower plants with wind farms and solar parks from Germany – NordLink is a “green link” in the truest sense of the word.

TenneT has nearly completed the installation of the NordLink submarine cables (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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50Hertz yearbook shows top score in renewables

07.06.2019

In its Yearbook 2018, the TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz has compiled on 105 informative and concise pages everything worth knowing about last year’s key figures, activities, infrastructure developments, market assessments, sustainability objectives and much more. For the current report, the transmission system operator (TSO) from North-East Germany has chosen a heading that fits the company’s philosophy: “Setting the pace for a successful energy transition”.

An outstanding yearbook figure is the regenerative share of 56.5% with which 50Hertz has confirmed its pioneering role in the integration of renewable energies in Central Europe. A share of 65% by 2030, the official government target in Germany, is thus already within reach. For its low-carbon future goals, the TSO relies on innovative concepts such as the flexibility platform of the WindNODE project, a digital procurement system designed to reduce the throttling of wind turbines in the event of grid bottlenecks.

Sustainable action and social commitment are entrepreneurial principles for 50Hertz. To provide information on this, the Yearbook also contains a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report. The CSR Report complies with the strict sustainability reporting standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and is supplemented by the launch of the company’s own sustainability website.

50Hertz presents its Yearbook 2018 and launches CSR website (picture showing 50Hertz employees working at the Arkona offshore transformer station: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> Download 50Hertz Yearbook 2018, in German (pdf, 9.08MB)
> Visit the 50Hertz CSR website, in German (html)

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RGI Award for the Combined Grid Solution

24.05.2019

On 23 May, during the Energy Infrastructure Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) presented the “Good Practice of the Year” awards to the 2019 winners. RGI, an association of non-governmental organisations and transmission system operators (TSOs) from all over Europe, annually awards the “Good Practice of the Year” upon recommendation of a jury of experts since 2012. This year’s award in the category “Technological Innovation & System Integration” goes to the “Combined Grid Solution” (CGS), the world’s first hybrid interconnector by the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German TSOs, and Energinet, the TSO from Denmark.

The CGS is the first Danish-German offshore interconnector for which submarine cables have been laid between the offshore substations of the German wind farm Baltic 2 and the wind farm Kriegers Flak in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea. The renewable energy generated by the wind turbines has priority and can flow into both interconnected countries if needed. Free capacity can be used to exchange electricity between the Danish and German markets. The jury acclaimed the potential of the CGS “to be enormously consequential for the development of the North Sea and Baltic Sea resources, and its ambition of approaching 100% utilisation of the offshore grid assets”.

Elke Kwapis, Senior Project Manager Offshore at 50Hertz, acknowledged “the collaborative manner amongst all project team members from 50Hertz and Energinet” and commented: “The CGS is the first offshore hybrid interconnector that allows integrating high shares of renewables and at the same time maximising the use of existing infrastructure for offshore wind grid connection.” Per Obbekær, project manager at Energinet, stressed the climate-specific impact of the CGS and the acute need for action: “We need to push all the known technologies and constantly focus on being innovative in our approach to new technologies in order for us to reach our climate goals cross borders.”

By the way, this is not the first time that 50Hertz has received the prize. In 2017, the TSO was awarded in the category “Communication & Participation” for the “DialogMobil”, an information van that functions as a kind of mobile citizen’s office.

The Combined Grid Solution project of 50Hertz and Energinet receives the “Good Practice of the Year Award” from the RGI (picture: RGI)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> See RGI press release (html)

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50Hertz committed to landscape protection

21.05.2019

In the Sülzetal, in the middle of the fertile Magdeburger Börde in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, there are salt marshes and meadows worthy of protection. Since two of the corridor alternatives for the supra-regional DC project “SuedOstLink” of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz run through the area of the Sülzetal, the German transmission system operator (TSO) is committed to ecological compensation. Therefore, 50Hertz cooperates with the “Stiftung Kulturlandschaft Sachsen-Anhalt”, a foundation supported by agricultural associations, to establish a comprehensive biotope network by enhancing and preserving ecologically valuable areas.

The foundation has set up an “eco-account”, and 50Hertz is the largest depositor to date. 50Hertz had already transferred €1m in 2017, and in 2020, the TSO will pay in a further €1.7m. The deposits can later be used for compensatory and replacement measures for the underground cables of the SuedOstLink, for example to create biodiverse habitats for animals and plants on uncultivated areas. SuedOstLink itself is a central component of the German energy transition, as it will ensure that large quantities of wind power are transmitted from the north-east of Germany to the south, where nuclear power plants will gradually be decommissioned.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Dalbert, Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister for the Environment, Agriculture and Energy, informed herself on 20 May about the ecological benefits of the cooperation and acknowledged the Sülzetal project as an example of how “valuable nature conservation measures can be implemented in connection with infrastructure projects”. Dr. Frank Golletz, Managing Director and CEO of 50Hertz, commented that the cooperation “shows that it is possible, on the one hand, to effectively compensate for interventions in nature and, at the same time, to create an attractive local recreation area for the people of the region in the immediate vicinity of the possible SuedOstLink routings”.

50Hertz cooperates with a foundation for landscape protection to establish a biotope network as compensation for SuedOstLink (picture: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls; from left to right: Dr. Frank Golletz, Prof. Dr. Claudia Dalbert, shepherd Jürgen Maurer, Dr. Jens Birger, Managing Director of the Stiftung Kulturlandschaft Sachsen-Anhalt)

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

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Ultranet progresses

17.05.2019

The Ultranet substation on the grounds of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant (which will be completely shut down by 31 December 2019) in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg is to become one of the most significant power hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape. Here, the supra-regional DC line Ultranet will be connected to the regional 380kV grid of TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Ultranet will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of the country to the industrially highly developed southwest. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is jointly carried out by TransnetBW and further TSCNET shareholder Amprion.

Last July, construction work began in Philippsburg with the groundbreaking ceremony for a new gas-insulated switchgear. Now the work on the new DC substation is being initiated, as TransnetBW officially started the filling of the construction site with a symbolic first excavator operation on 16 May. “This is a special day for the ULTRANET DC project and for the energy transition,” declared Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, to around 50 invited representatives from politics, business and society. Dr. Götz continued that now a “visible sign for the progress of the project and our aim to bring renewable electricity to Philippsburg and the region” had been set.

In the meantime, the project partner Amprion has also made progress for Ultranet, albeit in a different domain: In keeping with the motto that it is better to talk to each other than about each other, the TSO on 15 and 16 May has invited municipalities, specialist authorities and citizens’ initiatives to exchange information on the Ultranet planning status in the Rheingau-Taunus and Main-Taunus districts. A first public participation procedure had earlier led to 15 alternative routes in the respective districts, which Amprion examined in more detail. Based on the additional expert exchange, Amprion wants to better integrate the local knowledge and expertise of the participants for the comparison of variants and their environmental impacts.

TransnetBW has started preparing the construction site for the Ultranet substation in Philippsburg (picture: TransnetBW)

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

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Line upgrade in the German Upper Rhine Plain

11.05.2019

The transmission capacity of the extra-high voltage grid in the southwest of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, is reaching its limits considering the requirements for an efficient and future-proof energy system. To increase capacity and ensure regional security of supply as well as reliable transmission in the future, Baden-Württemberg’s transmission system operator (TSO), TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, is replacing the 220kV overhead line between Karlsruhe-Daxlanden and Eichstetten am Kaiserstuhl (near Freiburg) with a 380kV line. This line upgrade in the Upper Rhine Plain is part of the National Network Development Plan for Electricity and comprises the construction of around 120km of new lines and five substations.

The entire project is divided into four sections and the planning approval procedure for the section B1 between Sasbach and Offenburg-Weier in the Ortenau district was opened on 9 May. TransnetBW had submitted the relevant documents at the end of last year to the Freiburg Regional Council. After official review and a revision by the TSO, the authority initiated the approval procedure. Next steps include the consultation process with a month-long disclosure of the documents to the municipalities concerned and the involvement of public interest parties.

Start of planning approval for the Sasbach-Offenburg section of TransnetBW’s Daxlanden-Eichstetten line upgrade (picture: TransnetBW)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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66kV technology reduces offshore connection costs

08.05.2019

In future offshore projects, TSCNET shareholder TenneT will continue to reduce grid connection costs through standardisation and innovative technology. For the DolWin5 offshore grid connection in the so-called DolWin cluster in the south-western part of the German Bight, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has contracted a consortium consisting of Aibel and Keppel FELS with ABB as subcontractor with the design, engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning of a 900MW offshore HVDC converter platform and an onshore converter station.

The outstanding feature of the DolWin5 project is the innovative connection concept. The innovative 66kV technology from TenneT, which will be deployed, represents a new generation of low-cost offshore grid connections. The wind turbines will be directly connected to the offshore platform without the need for separate substations for the wind turbines. This direct connection not only omits any further substations but also the 155kV three-phase power cables for linking the wind farm to the offshore platform. Instead, 66kV three-phase cables will be used.

“With DolWin5 we open a new chapter in offshore grid connection technology: For the first time, the wind turbines are directly connected to our offshore platform,” comments TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens and adds: “This innovative technology results in an enormous cost reduction. The new direct connection will save around €200m in macroeconomic terms.”

TenneT opts for the innovative 66kV three-phase technology for future offshore connections (Picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Construction start for new 50Hertz overhead line

07.05.2019

Following the successful completion of the planning and approval procedures, TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), has begun construction of the first section of the 380kV Perleberg-Wolmirstedt overhead line. The 106-kilometer-long overhead line will connect the Perleberg substation in Brandenburg with the Wolmirstedt substation in Saxony-Anhalt and replace the existing 220kV overhead line from the 1950s. The grid upgrade is necessary to ensure that the increasing quantities of renewable electricity generated in the region will be made available to all consumers in Germany.

The first construction phase extends between the substations Stendal West and Wolmirstedt. Assembly of the 86 pylons for this 37-kilometer section began on May 6. Between Stendal and Wolmirstedt the new line can be installed in close parallel to the existing 380kV Lubmin-Wolmirstedt line. Corresponding preliminary work was carried out last winter and the current work is being monitored ecologically and archaeologically.

50Hertz has started construction of the first section of the Perleberg-Wolmirstedt overhead line (exemplary picture: 50Hertz)

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

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Significant progress for ALEGrO

03.05.2019

October 2018 saw the start of construction of ALEGrO, the “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay”, which is the first direct interconnector of the German and Belgian electricity grids. With a transmission capacity of 1,000MW, ALEGrO will increase cross-border electricity flows and, at the same time, supply security in the western German region of Aachen-Cologne. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is realised jointly by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and the Belgian TSO Elia. Only a few months after the start, Amprion can already report some great strides in the construction work.

Underground cabling is used for the entire ALEGrO route (approx. 49km in Belgium and 41km in Germany) and two new converters are being installed at each end of ALEGrO at the substations Oberzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium. The coordination effort for the German-Belgian power bridge, which crosses numerous roads, waters or forests, is considerable: Explosive ordnance clearance and the demolition of remnants of world war bunkers are daily business, but of course archaeological investigations and nature conservation are also part of today’s construction standard.

Several teams are working simultaneously at different points along the route in Germany, laying cable conduits into which the conductor cables will later be drawn. 5km of the conduit system have already been completed and 25km are currently under construction. At the Oberzier substation, a hall is currently being erected to house the converter technology. Work is also proceeding well in Belgium, and according to current planning ALEGrO should be operational by the end of 2020.

Amprion is making good progress with the construction of ALEGrO (picture: screenshot taken from video “Elia ALEGrO Project – Reportage”, Elia, YouTube)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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