Start of construction for replacement 380kV line in Lower Saxony

22.08.2019

The competent planning approval authority has granted TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the German-Dutch electricity transmission system operator (TSO), permission to build the 380 kV Emden – Conneforde line. Construction work will now be started immediately. The combined replacement new construction project is regarded as an important element for a successful energy transition – with the decision of the Lower Saxony State Authority for Road Construction and Transport after several years of preparation and intensive citizen dialogue, network expansion in northern Germany continues to pick up speed.

“The new transmission line supports the transport of renewable energy to the high-consumption regions and thus contributes to greater security of supply,” explains TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens. The approximately 60-kilometer-long line runs from Emden through four administrative districts and is to run underground on two sections with a total of around five kilometres. Commissioning is planned for 2021. The existing 220kV line between Emden and Conneforde will then be dismantled.

TenneT has received approval for the construction of the 380 kV Emden – Conneforde line and will begin construction immediately (collage using pictures of TenneT)

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BorWin3 in operation

12.08.2019

The offshore grid connection BorWin3 operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT in the German Bight is ready for feed-in since early August. This means that the total transmission capacity for offshore wind farms in the German North Sea is already 7.132GW. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has thus not only met the German government’s expansion targets for sustainable North Sea wind power – 6.5GW by 2020 – but has significantly exceeded them.

BorWin3, TenneT’s twelfth offshore grid connection project, brings a further 900MW capacity. After BorWin1 and BorWin2, it is the third connection that the TSO has implemented near the East Frisian island of Borkum using DC technology. The corresponding converter and transformer station were built at TenneT’s Emden/Ost site to feed the green energy into the onshore extra-high voltage grid. BorWin3 bridges a total distance of 160km. The submarine cable is 130km long and the last section ashore to Emden/Ost is completed by underground cabling.

The TSO can be satisfied with its own offshore progress, but TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens calls for further efforts, as the current rate of offshore wind expansion in Europe is not sufficient to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. “An accelerated, large-scale and internationally coordinated expansion is necessary,” explains Meyerjürgens. In this context, TenneT has just presented a feasibility study of the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept for the implementation of wind power distribution hubs in the North Sea. Meyerjürgens points out that with an internationally coordinated approach the connection and integration of large offshore wind energy capacities could be much more effective and cost-efficient than with continued individual national planning.

In early August, the offshore grid connection BorWin3 of TenneT was put into operation (picture of the offshore converter platform BorWin gamma: TenneT)

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TenneT on track for the energy transition

31.07.2019

Highly satisfactory business results and maintenance of the high level of 99.99% security of supply, are hallmarks of the half year report of the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder Tennet. The latter is a growing challenge for the transmission system operator (TSO) because of the increased feed-in of volatile renewable energy. But above all, the report illustrates the commitment of the TSO to the European energy transition.

To take further steps in shaping the energy system of the future, TenneT has launched a series of strategic initiatives and partnerships to join forces across sectors. TenneT is participating in a German power-to-gas pilot project and is working together with regional grid operators and market partners on smart solutions to optimise the use of existing electricity infrastructure. The TSO is also involved in blockchain pilots to create flexibility for balancing the power system from decentralised sources.

TenneT has further strengthened its position as a leading offshore TSO. In Germany, TenneT has awarded DolWin 5, the 14th offshore grid connection. TenneT will increase its current offshore transmission capacity from 6,232MW in the German North Sea to almost 9GW by 2024. In the Netherlands, too, the development of the offshore grid with the Borssele Alpha and Beta projects is on schedule. TenneT intends to provide a total of 10.6GW of connection capacity for Dutch offshore wind farms by 2030. The TSO is also carrying out several onshore projects to ensure the transport of the growing amount of green electricity and thus security of supply in its control areas. Important interconnecting projects are the NordLink cable connection, which is currently being built to directly link the German and Norwegian markets for the first time. The COBRAcable between the Netherlands and Denmark has “landed” at the Dutch shore and will go into operation this year.

These developments are complemented by solid and impressive figures: Underlying operating result (EBIT) rose from €362m (first half of 2018) to €407m in the first half of 2019. €1,094m (first half of 2018: €904m) were invested in the Dutch and German high-voltage grids (of which €612m in Germany) and a total of €1.75bn green bonds were successfully issued. Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the report: “We have embarked on an irreversible transition to a sustainable society and a new energy system. This requires investments, not only in new electricity connections, but also in innovations and digitalisation. We have to move to holistic energy system thinking and also work on solutions to make better use of the existing high-voltage grids. We are convinced that this is the way forward to limit social costs and at the same time maintain a very high security of supply.”

TenneT presents its half year report 2019 (picture: TenneT)

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Fauna-friendly extension of Amprion substations

25.07.2019

TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is expanding its Siegburg substation in North Rhine-Westphalia, near the former seat of the West German government in Bonn. The planning is progressing well: By 2023, the existing 220/110kV substation is to be integrated into the 380kV grid. To this end, the current installations will be extended by a 380/220kV transformer and a gas-insulated switchgear at the 380kV voltage level. A new overhead line will connect the station to Amprion’s supra-regional transmission system.

But there is more to be told from Siegburg, as the substation provides a home for seven bee colonies. In May, further TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, reported on a pilot project on eco-friendly substation maintenance, and now Amprion also informs about new steps in this field: Around 350,000 bees of the Buckfast and the Carniolan breeds live in a specially fenced area and bring the nectar gathered on their flights back to the hives at the station. “We are very happy about our new neighbours,” says Klaus Breitbach, operations manager of the substation. “We hope that our new neighbours will thank us for the good location with one or the other glass of honey”.

News is also coming from the Bischoffsheim substation in the Rhine-Main Area. Here, too, Amprion is working on the grid of the future: To ensure security of supply for the region and the state capitals of Mainz (Rhineland-Palatinate) and Wiesbaden (Hesse), the TSO is expanding and modernising the existing 380kv system with a transformer and switch panels. On 27 July, Amprion expects the delivery of the 350MVA transformer. First, the transformer with a weight of around 350 tonnes is being transported by rail. The last 560 meters on the road will be taken over by a heavy haulage tractor unit with a length of 78 meters and two times twelve axles. The total weight of the transport unit is 574 tonnes.

Bees at Amprion substation

Amprion welcomes bee colonies to the Siegburg substation and is expecting a new transformer at the Bischoffsheim substation (picture: Amprion)

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New ploughing technology for cable laying under test

10.07.2019

The 380kV line from Wahle in the German federal state of Lower Saxony to Mecklar in the state of Hesse is one of the underground cable pilot projects laid down in the German Power Grid Expansion Act (Gesetz zum Ausbau von Energieleitungen – EnLAG). For the construction of the line, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is testing a new ploughing technology for laying empty conduits, into which the three-phase underground cables will later be inserted.

The so-called multiple ploughing method was presented today in the Lower Saxony village of Wartjenstedt (near Hildesheim) to representatives from politics, authorities, associations and the media, as well as farmers and land users. At a test track of around 200 metres, the cable plough specialist company Frank Föckersperger and TenneT demonstrated how the specially developed cable plough can be used for the Wahle-Mecklar project.

Olaf Lies, Minister for the Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection of Lower Saxony, was impressed by the demonstration: “The test in Wartjenstedt shows that when installing underground cables, it is possible to minimise interference with the existing soil structure and reduce construction costs and time by using new laying techniques.” TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens complements: “TenneT aims to introduce the multiple ploughing method to the state-of-the-art technology to accelerate the grid extension. After about three years of research, it is a great success to test this important innovation on site for Germany’s longest 380kV underground cable section.”

If the test phase for the plough, which is to last until mid-October 2019, is successful, TenneT intends to use the new method on suitable sections of the Wahle-Mecklar project on a trial basis in spring 2020. Depending on the test results and the respective local conditions, TenneT expects a significantly reduced construction time for underground cable lines when using the multiple plough. Since experience with cable ploughing technology has so far only been available for lower voltage levels, TenneT is once again doing pioneering work to design the energy transition grid and establish new technologies.

TenneT is conducting field tests on new ploughing technology for laying underground cables (picture: TenneT)

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Investing for the energy future

27.06.2019

TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), presents its Annual Report 2018 on a specially designed website. What, from a TSO’s perspective, is most necessary for the successful energy transition in Germany – the sustainable expansion of the transmission system so that green electricity can be provided nationwide – is clearly reflected in Amprion’s figures for 2018: Amprion further increased its investments in grid extension, which amounted to €763m in 2018 and were 8.5% higher than in the previous year.

However, it is not sufficient for TSOs alone to fulfil their role, especially as grid extension needs to be accelerated significantly to keep pace with the expansion of the renewables. Politics must also help by setting the right course to promote the cross-sector transformation of the energy system. Amprion therefore calls for a national master plan for electricity and gas. Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, explains: “It is not enough just to connect renewable energies to the grid. From our system responsibility, we have the task of integrating them into the energy system.” This requires innovative concepts and technologies such as power-to-gas.

Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, Chief Commercial Officer and CFO of Amprion, adds at the company’s annual press conference in the German capital of Berlin, that the expansion of the electricity system as outlined in the German Network Development Plan remains the indispensable basis for achieving the climate targets and the secure and cost-effective power supply of the German conurbations. “Amprion is thus investing more than €9.3bn in its grid over the next ten years.”

Amprion presents Annual Report 2018 (picture: Amprion)

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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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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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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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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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