Amprion develops rotating asynchronous phase shifter

27.03.2020

When conventional power generation declines, additional technical measures are needed to ensure the stability of the electricity grids. The energy transition in Germany is prompting the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) to take compensatory measures to keep the grid voltage at the required level. An essential factor in maintaining voltage is reactive power, and TSOs respond to changes in the energy landscape by installing reactive power systems to compensate for the loss of reactive power previously provided by conventional power plants. Reactive power is particularly required for the AC transmission of large amounts of energy over long distances. This is likely to be a common practice in the energy future of Germany.

The German TSO Amprion and Siemens Energy plan to develop and install the world’s first rotating asynchronous phase shifter with a high output of approx. 300MVA. The innovative device is called ARESS: Asynchronous Rotating Energy System Stabilizer. It represents a new and fully integrated technology. In contrast to synchronous phase shifters, ARESS supplies far more rotation energy, especially when providing momentary reserve, and also over a longer period of time. The extremely responsive and powerful electrical equipment thus significantly contributes to frequency stability. ARESS is intended to complement and further develop the Statcom (static synchronous compensator) systems and synchronous phase shifters that are currently in use.

The ARESS project was launched on 26 March with the signing of an agreement by Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO of Amprion, and Dr. Jochen Eickholt, managing director and designated executive board member of Siemens Energy. Due to the Corona pandemic, the documents were signed via video conference. The technology partners are convinced that the ARESS technology can be designed much more cost-effectively and compactly than combinations of available technologies in the same scope of application. Amprion and Siemens Energy expect the project to run for four years until the pilot system can be put into operation.

Amprion and Siemens Energy are developing the rotating asynchronous phase shifter ARESS to provide reactive power (exemplary image of a rotating phase shifter: Siemens)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Construction of ULTRANET substation approved

27.03.2020

The Philippsburg nuclear power plant in the German state of Baden-Württemberg was shut down completely on 31 December 2019. On the power plant site, TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the Transmission System Operator (TSO) from the southwest of Germany, is planning a new DC substation with a required area of around 100,000m². The substation is to become one of the most important energy hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape, as the supra-regional high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line ULTRANET will be connected here to the regional 380kV AC grid.

After intensive planning, TransnetBW submitted the application for construction permit to the competent district administration for examination in June 2018. The Landratsamt Karlsruhe has now approved the plans of the TSO. “The DC substation plays a central role in integrating renewable energies into the transmission grid,” explains Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “In the future, renewable electricity will flow from the Philippsburg site to the entire region. We are thus laying a cornerstone for supply security in a future without nuclear power and coal.”

ULTRANET, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), is jointly implemented by TransnetBW and the further TSCNET shareholder Amprion. It will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of Germany to the industrially highly developed southwest. The Philippsburg substation represents the southern end point of ULTRANET. Here, the DC transmitted via ULTRANET to Philippsburg is converted into AC and distributed throughout the region. Vice-versa, the substation allows the conversion of AC into DC, e.g. to transport surplus photovoltaic power from the south to the north.

TransnetBW has received official approval for the construction of the ULTRANET substation in Philippsburg (architectural sketch of the substation: Codema International GmbH / TransnetBW)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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New Rhône Valley power line operational in 2022

24.03.2020

In early 2018, TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO), began preparations for the construction of the new 380kV line in the Rhône Valley between the two substations Chamoson and Chippis, which is to replace the old 220kV line. This new line is of crucial importance for Switzerland’s security of supply, particularly for the transmission of electricity generated in the Valais hydroelectric power plants to the consumption centres in the central Swiss Plateau.

After about 18 months of actual construction, the extra-high voltage line is now taking shape and work is underway along its entire length. But not only do numerous safety measures have to be considered during construction, also the access to some plots of land has not yet been clarified at some pylon sites. These locations are distributed along the entire route of the line. As a decision by the responsible federal authorities is still pending in some cases, Swissgrid has now reviewed the construction plans and postponed commissioning of the new line until summer 2022. As the Federal Evaluation Commission (“Eidgenössische Schätzungskommission”) has given priority to the TSO’s applications, Swissgrid is confident about the further construction of the line.

Swissgrid expects the new 380kV line from Chamoson to Chippis to be commissioned in summer 2022 (picture: Swissgrid)

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> See Swissgrid news release, in German (html)

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Borssele Beta platform topside ready for sail out

20.03.2020

In the Borssele offshore wind farm area in the south-western part of the Dutch North Sea, Borssele Alpha, the first and largest connection system for wind farms from the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT in Dutch territorial waters, is already in operation. Now the TSCNET shareholder is in the process of installing Borssele Beta to connect further wind farms, in this case Borssele III and IV that are still under construction. The topside of the offshore transformer platform for Borssele Beta is now ready for shipping. It was built at the construction yard of the offshore platform specialist HSM Offshore in Schiedam in the Rotterdam-The Hague metropolitan area and will be put to sea on 22 March 2020.

When the pontoon carrying the 3,650-tonne superstructure arrives at its destination, a crane vessel will place the top side on the platform substructure (jacket). The top side comprises three interior levels and an outer deck. It is 25 metres high, 58 metres long and 32 metres wide. The Borssele Beta grid connection will have a capacity of 700MW and is scheduled to be commissioned on 1 September 2020. The Borssele III, IV, and V wind farms, which are located about 22km from the coast, will be connected to this transmission system. Borssele V by the Two Towers consortium has been designated as an innovation site within the wind farm zone and will be connected to Borssele Beta. The electricity generated by these offshore wind farms will then be transported ashore via two 67-kilometre-long cables to the high-voltage transformer station near the town of Borssele in the Dutch province of Zeeland.

Marco Kuijpers, Director Offshore Projects a TenneT, comments on the TSO’s progress in offshore expansion: “With this platform, the offshore grid that TenneT is building in the Dutch North Sea is definitively taking shape. Borssele Beta is the second offshore grid connection built by TenneT. Over the coming eight years we will build a new offshore connection every year. I am proud that we are able to make such a significant contribution to the energy transition in which offshore wind energy plays a crucial role.”

TenneT also assumes a marine ecological responsibility and makes its offshore platforms available for other uses. The TSO cooperates in this respect with the Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat). The Borssele Beta offshore platform therefore also features a Maritime Information Provision Service Point (MIVSP). This is a monitoring station with various monitoring systems, such as nautical radars, meteorological systems and ecological monitoring systems. Similar stations are being installed on every TenneT offshore transformer platform.

The topside of the offshore transformer platform Borssele Beta of TenneT is constructed and ready for shipping (picture: HSM Offshore)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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TenneT creates, invests and researches for the energy future

12.03.2020

Promoting the energy transition is a priority objective of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). This is clearly reflected in the TSO’s just-published Integrated Annual Report. As in recent years, the Annual Report is accompanied by the Green Finance Report 2019.

In line with the energy policy and climate goals of the Netherlands and Germany, TenneT increased its investments yet again in 2019 and spent €3.1bn on the energy transition and supply security (grid availability of 99.9998% in 2019). This financial commitment is even to be stepped up: TenneT is planning annual investments of €4bn to €5bn for the future. The financial performance of the company, with revenues of €4.1bn in 2019 and an EBIT (excluding special effects) of €753m, supports these ambitious plans. Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, has every reason to be content with the sound development of the TSO: “We have made great strides again in pursuing our ambition to achieve a sustainable energy future for everyone. Not only in realising and developing new onshore and offshore connections, but also by the required far-reaching international cooperation and working on innovations in close coordination with relevant stakeholders.”

As regards offshore connections, TenneT has already exceeded in 2019 the German government’s expansion target for offshore wind power capacity in the North and Baltic Sea, which is 6.5GW for 2020. With last year’s commissioning of BorWin 3, TenneT’s ninth offshore grid connection system in DC technology, the TSO now has a total of twelve offshore grid connections in operation (nine in DC and three in AC technology) with a total capacity of 7.1GW. But TenneT is not resting on its successes to date: The connection systems DolWin5, DolWin6, and BorWin5 are being developed and will increase the offshore transmission capacity provided by TenneT for wind farms in the German North Sea to almost 10GW by 2025. In addition, Borssele Alpha, TenneT’s first offshore connection system in AC technology in the Dutch North Sea, was installed on schedule and is now ready for operation. Borssele Beta will be completed in 2020.

Onshore, TenneT has eight transmission lines under construction in Germany, more than ever before. In the Netherlands, the 60km-long Randstad 380kV North Ring power line was put into operation, reliably supplying Europe’s most densely populated area with electricity and providing transmission capacity for green energy. At European level, the “green” COBRAcable deserves special mention, which since 2019 directly connects the Dutch and Danish markets for the first time. The German and Norwegian markets will also be directly connected by the NordLink cable, which is currently under construction. On top of this, a proof-of-concept for the North Sea Wind Power Hub has shown the technical feasibility of the concept of multiple wind power distribution hubs in the North Sea.

All these grid expansion projects are complemented by innovative solutions and intensive research to better utilise TenneT’s existing transmission system. These include vehicle-to-grid pilots, the deployment of home storage systems in grid stabilisation and digital solutions for higher grid utilisation. Another long-term innovation project is Element One, a 100MW electrolysis plant to be built in Germany to promote an integrated energy system.

TenneT presents Integrated Annual Report 2019 and Green Finance Report 2019 (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> Visit Integrated Annual Report 2019 site (html)
> Direct access to the report download (html)
> Open Green Finance Report 2019 (pdf, 802.38kB)

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50Hertz: More renewables, less redispatch

10.03.2020

For 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the north-east of Germany, the 2019 business year was successful in two respects: More renewable power than ever before was transmitted by 50Hertz. At the same time, fewer and fewer redispatch measures were required for congestion management. This of course also means that the TSCNET shareholder was able to continuously reduce its redispatch costs.

At the 50 Hertz annual media conference in the German capital of Berlin, the TSO presented the following figures: A total of around 60TWh of renewable energy was fed into the grid, mainly generated by wind and sun. This once again set a record in the 50Hertz control area, where renewable energies already cover up to 60% of the average annual electricity demand. In congestion management, 50Hertz was able to reduce the throttled energy volumes from 4TWh in 2018 to only 2.5TWh in 2019 and cut redispatch costs from €134m to €84m.

Stefan Kapferer, CEO of 50Hertz, commented on the TSO’s success: “The north-east of Germany continues to evolve into a ‘green power plant’ of the energy transition in Germany. Even with a constantly growing share of wind and solar power in the grid, we keep the costs under control. With regard to the time after the exit from coal- and lignite-fired generation, we stand for the security of the power system and create the necessary preconditions.”

50Hertz keeps on creating the technical conditions for future success and is making good progress in grid optimisation, reinforcement and expansion. Last year, the offshore grid connection Ostwind 1 was officially commissioned. In addition, 50Hertz lines and substations have been reinforced. To improve the prognosis of grid losses, artificial intelligence (AI) is used in the 50Hertz grid. All this is not possible without sustained financial commitment. Thanks to consistently good business performance – annual result 2019: €178m (2018: €238m) – the TSO will significantly increase its infrastructure investments: In the period 2020 to 2024, investments will grow by €1.1bn to €4.2bn compared to the time span 2015 to 2019.

50Hertz presents impressive figures for 2019 and announces increased investments (picture of Kerstin Maria Rippel, Head of Communications & Public Affairs at 50Hertz, 50Hertz CEO Stefan Kapferer, 50Hertz CFO Marco Nix, and Chris Peeters, CEO of Elia Group: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls)

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Deep Dig-It trencher at work for TenneT

09.03.2020

The Hollandse Kust (South) offshore wind area in the Dutch North Sea is located 22 kilometres off the coast of the Dutch province of Zuid-Holland. TSCNET shareholder TenneT is responsible for connecting the wind farms under construction there via two corresponding offshore platforms to the onshore high-voltage substation in the industry and port area of Maasvlakte, from where the green electricity is transmitted further to the Randstad 380kV South Ring power line in the Dutch Randstad region, the most densely populated area in Europe, and further.

But there is a major challenge to be met by the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO): On the first ten kilometres of the offshore route, the four submarine cables to be laid are crossing the entrance to Europe’s busiest cargo port, the port of Rotterdam. To pass through the busy Rotterdam-Maasmond shipping lane, the cables here must be buried more than 5 metres deep into the seabed. For this specific job, the Dutch maritime contracting company Van Oord designed and built the Deep Dig-It trencher, a gigantic remote-controlled trencher.

Last Friday, final tests were carried out in the Aleksiahaven of Maasvlakte in preparation for the actual laying of the submarine cables in July. The innovative device is a so-called Tracked Remotely Operated Vehicle, which drives unmanned over the seabed, creates a deep trench for the cables, inserts the cables and closes the trench again. The Deep Dig-It is the largest and most powerful machine in its class. The trencher weighs 125 tonnes, is more than 17 metres long, well over 8 metres high and 11 metres wide. This makes it possible to bury cables in very hard ground, while the burial depth that can be achieved with the Deep Dig-It is well over 5 metres.

TenneT employs the powerful Deep Dig-It trencher to connect the Hollandse Kust (South) wind farms to the onshore grid (picture: Van Oord nv)

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Winter storms break feed-in records

03.03.2020

In February 2020, electricity generation from wind energy set new records throughout Europe, as shown by calculations of the International Economic Forum for Renewable Energies (Internationales Wirtschaftsforum Regenerative Energien – IWR) based on data from European transmission system operators (TSOs). In Europe (still including the UK), almost 54,000GWh of wind power was fed into the grid (February 2019: 34,300GWh). In Germany, almost twice as much electricity was generated by wind turbines as in the same month of the previous year, with wind power exceeding the 20.000GWh mark for the first time in one month (February 2019: 10,800GWh).

Driven by the hurricane gusts of winter storm Sabine (Ciara in English speaking countries and Elsa in Scandinavia), the German wind turbines in the second week of February temporarily supplied almost 44GW of climate-friendly electricity to the grid and thus covered two thirds of Germany’s demand for electricity – whereas the German government has only set a target of 65% for 2030. However, the trend-setting wind power peak in Germany also has unpleasant side effects. Grid extension not always keeps pace with these quantities – mostly due to appeal procedures and approval processes – and hence sometimes more wind power is produced than some lines can handle. In such cases emergency measures are routinely taken by the TSOs as part of their congestion management and turbines have to be taken off the grid.

But TSOs also constantly improve their control and capacity management, e. g. 50Hertz, the TSO from the windy north-east of Germany. Between 6.30pm and 6.45pm, a wind feed of 16,270MW was registered in the TSO’s control area. At the same time, only 460MW (and thus a very small percentage) had to be throttled. Thanks to optimised grid control and capacity utilisation, most of the wind power generated was transmitted from the north to the south of Germany and almost completely used. By way of comparison, the previous record was set on 4 March 2019, when 16,217MW of wind energy was fed in, but at the same time around 1,300MW still had to be curtailed. Dr Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets and System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, comments on this success: “This exceptionally good ratio between feed-in and curtailment shows that the measures we have taken to increase the capacity and optimise our grid are having a positive effect.”

During the winter storms in February 2020, which led to record feeds of wind energy throughout Europe, 50Hertz had to throttle almost no energy

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> See IWR press release, in German (html)
> Visit Fraunhofer ISE Energy Charts website (html)

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BorWin3 operation handed over to TenneT

14.02.2020

The offshore grid connection BorWin3 in the German Bight near the island of Borkum has been operational since August 2019. The twelfth offshore grid connection project of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), extends TenneT’s transmission capacity for offshore wind farms in the German North Sea by a further 900MW, so that the total capacity already amounts to 7.132GW – and since the German government’s expansion targets for wind energy in the North Sea by 2020 are only 6.5GW, the TSO has clearly exceeded them.

After several weeks of trial operation, BorWin3 has now been handed over to TenneT by the general contractors. The consortium of Siemens and Petrofac was responsible for the construction, transport, installation and commissioning of the two BorWin3 converters (offshore and onshore). The transfer of operations represents a further major contribution to the energy transition in Germany and Europe.

At the same time, TenneT is pursuing ambitious goals for its Dutch offshore projects. The TSO is planning on a large scale, as the Dutch government has set a target in its “Offshore Wind Roadmap 2030” to reach a cumulative offshore wind capacity of 11.5GW by 2030, so that 40% of the Dutch electricity demand will then come from offshore wind farms. In the IJmuiden Ver wind energy area, off the coast of the region of North Holland, the company intends to implement two 2GW offshore grid connections to complement the eight 0.7GW AC grid connections already planned in the Dutch North Sea. As there is currently no 2GW grid connection, a new platform design and a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system that enables increased power transmission are required.

Furthermore, given the long distance to the coast and the size of the IJmuiden Ver wind energy area, a 2GW HVDC solution based on 525kV seems to be the most economically solution. It requires only one cable system per 2GW, which limits the impact on the environment and surroundings. The technology is by no means fundamentally new to TenneT. The TSO can draw on its extensive HVDC experience with offshore grid connections in Germany and with interconnectors. TenneT also uses the 525kV level for NordLink, the new offshore connection between Germany and Norway.

To implement such an innovative DC system, TenneT has initiated the design phase with five HVDC suppliers based on an innovation partnership. These suppliers will develop the advanced 2GW-525kV HVDC solution based on the criteria defined by the company and the technical capabilities of the partners.

The operation of BorWin3 was handed over to TenneT (picture of the offshore converter platform BorWin gamma: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release on BorWin3, in German (html)
> See TenneT press release on Dutch 2GW plans (html)
> Watch BorWin3 project movie, in German (YouTube)

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Ostwind 1 in regular operation

14.02.2020

In April 2019, the Arkona wind farm in the “Westlich Adlergrund” cluster in the Baltic Sea near the German island of Rügen was commisioned, giving the go-ahead for full operation of the Ostwind 1 grid connection of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from northeast Germany. Ostwind 1 is the first grid connection in the Baltic Sea with 220kV three-phase current technology, which enables a higher transmission capacity.

Now Ostwind 1 has gone into regular operation and the two connected wind farms, besides Arkona also the Viking wind farm, have been successfully connected to the onshore grid on schedule. But 50Hertz considers this success no cause to rest on its laurels, for the expansion of offshore wind energy must continue if the energy transition is to succeed. This is why the TSO has already made good progress with the follow-up project Ostwind 2.

For instance, 50Hertz has long since begun preparations for the construction of three submarine cable systems for the Ostwind 2 project. For the land section, the 12 nautical mile zone of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and an approximately 5km-long section in the exclusive economic zone, the building permits have already been issued. 50Hertz has set up a new website for the Ostwind 2 project, where further information can be found.

Ostwind 1 grid connection of 50Hertz in the Baltic Sea has gone into regular operation (picture of Arkona wind farm: Ein Dahmer / CC BY-SA 4.0)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> Visit Ostwind 2 project website (html)

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