Wind power hub promotes climate goals

10.07.2019

It’s only been a good three years since TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), first presented the concept of a North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH) to the public. From then on, the vision has taken concrete shape and the hub consortium has been consistently expanded, now including further TSCNET shareholder Energinet from Denmark, the port of Rotterdam and the Dutch natural gas company Gasunie, as power-to-gas applications are an important component of the concept.

In future years, when large wind regions in the North Sea are defined for development, it will be possible to implement several hubs to support the energy transmission infrastructure. These NSWPHs will then combine generation, storage and transmission of wind energy with a multinational interconnection of North Sea riparian states and thus promote the large-scale implementation and integration of offshore wind energy. The NSWPH partners have now presented the results of the project assessment phase. In recent months, they not only analysed options for the construction of wind farms in the North Sea, but also conducted a large number of studies, examined various scenarios and held intensive discussions with policy makers, leading offshore developers and non-governmental organisations.

The studies and investigations have confirmed the technical and economic feasibility of the hub concept. Furthermore, they have shown that large offshore wind capacities must be developed in the North Sea in order to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Convention in due time. The targeted capacities range from 70 to 150GW by 2040 and up to 180GW by 2045. Depending on the scope of development, the NSWPH could lay the foundation to supply hundreds of millions of Europeans with green electricity. To take the concept forward, the Danish, Dutch and German governments as well as the European Commission are invited by the NSWPH consortium to consider setting up a consultation.

Studies confirm the climate benefits of the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> Visit North Sea Wind Power Hub website (html)

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Imminent test operation for COBRAcable

24.06.2019

COBRAcable, the first direct interconnection between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands, is a joint project of the two TSCNET shareholders Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. Since spring, the partner TSOs have been preparing the commercial operation of COBRAcable. TenneT and Energinet have now launched an Urgent Market Messages (UMM) site for the commissioning of COBRAcable, which is scheduled to take place between 3 July 2019 and 6 September 2019.

A total of around 30 individual tests with different energy charges in the respective transport directions are planned. It is expected that the full capacity of COBRAcable will be available for the day ahead and intraday markets from 7 September. TenneT and Energinet then will offer financial transmission rights on COBRAcable at monthly and annual auctions. The first auction is expected to take place after a full month of stable operation, so probably the auction for November 2019, which will be held in October.

By promoting the exchange of surplus wind energy, COBRAcable will improve the cohesion of the European transmission system and the integration of the electricity market. It will also make a sustainable contribution to the low carbon energy future by allowing future offshore wind farms in the North Sea to be hooked up to the DC interconnector.

Energinet and Tennet will carry out individual tests of COBRAcable as of 3 July (picture: screenshot taken from TenneT video “COBRAcable Cable Pull Fano Denmark Film”, YouTube)

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> See Energinet press release (html)
> Visit REMIT UMM site (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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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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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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Preparations for market inclusion of COBRAcable

15.03.2019

COBRAcable will be the first direct link between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands. It is a joint project of the two transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders Energinet from Denmark and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. By increasing the exchange of surplus wind energy, the DC interconnector is to improve the cohesion of the European transmission system and the integration of the electricity market. COBRAcable also makes a sustainable contribution to the low-carbon energy future by providing the opportunity to hook up future North Sea offshore wind farms to the connection. The entire cable route comprises 329km, of which 307km are offshore and 22km onshore. Since two cables are laid in parallel, the total length of the cables is 658km.

COBRAcable reached the Dutch shore at the Eemshaven connection point in November 2018 and will be commissioned this year. Now the two TSOs are preparing the commercial operation of COBRAcable scheduled for the third quarter of 2019. The concrete measures are the inclusion of COBRAcable in the day ahead and intraday market coupling systems on 16 April 2019 and in the market coupling results on the following day, each with an allocated capacity of zero. The objective of this is to test the relevant IT systems and prepare for a successful launch of commercial operations later in the year.

Energinet and Tennet carry out a test inclusion of COBRAcable in the market coupling (picture: screenshot taken from video “COBRAcable kommer i land ved Eemshaven”, Energinet – Vimeo)

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> See Energinet press release (html)

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Royal interest in the Wind Power Hub

07.03.2019

TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), had the honour of hosting high-ranking visitors. During the German-Dutch trade delegation meeting on 6 March 2019 in the German North Sea port of Bremerhaven, Manon van Beek, CEO of the TSCNET shareholder, presented the vision and current plans for the North Sea Wind Power Hub in attendance of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub concept combines wind energy production, storage, and transmission with a multinational interconnection of North Sea riparian states. In addition to TenneT, the international hub consortium includes the Danish TSO Energinet, another TSCNET shareholder, the port of Rotterdam and the Dutch natural gas company Gasunie. Hence, power-to-gas technologies are also involved in the hub concept. A transnational transmission grid, controlled through a distribution hub in the North Sea and enabling the feed-in and distribution of vast quantities of offshore wind energy, would strengthen the whole European energy market and increase the security of supply across the continent.

The Dutch royal couple took great interest in the virtual and interactive model of the hub concept showcased at the meeting. Manon van Beek was most appreciative of this aristocratic concern: “We are especially pleased and honoured by the interest of the royal couple in the energy hub.” The TenneT CEO considers the Power Hub to be a valuable instrument in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement. In this regard, the royal visit was beneficial because the realisation of a low-carbon energy future “requires international cooperation and coordination, political momentum and courage and the support of non-governmental organisations”, van Beek concluded.

TenneT has presented the North Sea Wind Power Hub in the presence of the Dutch royal couple (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> Visit North Sea Wind Power Hub website (html)

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TenneT presents Annual Report

21.02.2019

The transition to significantly more solar and wind energy in the power grid continues to have a substantial impact on the business operations of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The apparent progress made by TenneT in this respect is reflected in the TSO’s just published Integrated Annual Report 2018, which is accompanied by the Green Finance Report 2018. To further advance the energy transition, TenneT focuses on the innovation and optimisation of the existing transmission system as well as on major national and international grid expansions. Manon van Beek, CEO at TenneT, refers to the necessity “to expand and reinforce our grids both onshore and offshore” and further explains: “We must also use the capacity of this infrastructure better, more flexibly and efficiently with the help of technology.”

TenneT again achieved a very good financial result in 2018. On an underlying revenue basis of €4.2bn, the TSO invested €2.3bn (2017: €1.8bn) in the energy transition and security of supply, with remarkable success, as grid availability in 2018 was 99.9988% within TenneT’s control area. And apart from the ensured reliability of the current transmission system, TenneT also wants to guarantee security of supply in the future. Since the energy future cannot be realised without inventive concepts, TenneT was and will be very active in innovation research for a flexible and affordable energy system based on solar and wind energy as well as green hydrogen. Several research projects are currently underway with renowned partners from industry and science.

Especially in terms of wind energy, TenneT is setting standards by reaching a new milestone in Germany and bringing almost 17TWh of offshore wind energy ashore in 2018. TenneT’s total connection capacity for offshore wind farms grew to 6,232MW. The BorWin3 and DolWin6 projects, which will be completed in 2019 and 2023 respectively, will further increase capacity to more than 8,000MW in Germany, while the development of an offshore grid in the Dutch North Sea is also progressing as planned.

Another important operational objective of TenneT is the further integration of the Northwest European electricity market, which is essential for the success of the European energy targets. One of TenneT’s current projects is the Doetinchem-Wesel link between the Netherlands and Germany, which went into operation in September 2018. In addition, the COBRAcable subsea connection between the Netherlands and Denmark has “landed” at the Eemshaven connection point and will be commissioned this year. Also worth noting is the NordLink cable connection currently under construction, which will be the first direct link between the German and Norwegian markets. The 624km interconnector is expected to come on stream in 2021. TenneT will then be operating 16 interconnectors in total.

TenneT presents its Integrated Annual Report 2018 and Green Finance Report 2018 (picture: screenshot taken from video “50 Hertz – The challenge of continuous electricity”, TenneT – Youtube)

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> See TenneT press release, (html)
> Visit Integrated Annual Report 2018 website (html)
> Open Green Finance Report 2018 (pdf, 2.84MB)

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Successful test for the Combined Grid Solution

09.11.2018

The Combined Grid Solution is a joint offshore connection project by the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and the Danish TSO Energinet. The binational interconnector in the Baltic Sea will integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany by linking the German wind farm Baltic 2 to the Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak. The utilisation of grid connections from offshore wind farms to couple the transmission grids of two countries is nothing less than a world premiere.

The laying of the two submarine cables “150kV-line KFE-BaZ 155“ and “150kV-line KFE-BaZ 156“ was completed at the beginning of July and the two TSOs have now successfully conducted 24-hour testing of both cables. Around noon on 6 November and in the afternoon thereafter, the two cables were energised one after the other up to the disconnector on the offshore substation OSS KFE and now are ready to transport electricity. Sebastian Wagner, Sub-Project Manager Sea cables at 50Hertz, and Energinet’s Project Manager Daniel Johan Brøndum jointly declared: “Everyone in the team worked closely together and delivered to-the-point. We are very happy and celebrate this success together.”

The submarine cables for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution of 50Hertz and Energinet were successfully tested (illustration based on pictures of 50Hertz / Sebastian Wagner)

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Construction start for ALEGrO

30.10.2018

As a responsible and future-conscious transmission system operator (TSO), TSCNET shareholder Amprion is committed to the European Energy Union. An outstanding project in this respect is the Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay (ALEGrO), the first interconnector to directly connect the German and Belgian electricity grids. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is being implemented jointly by Amprion and the Belgian TSO Elia. Following a pleasingly short approval procedure, the starting signal for ALEGrO was given today in the commercial area of the west German city of Aachen. Here, Amprion celebrated the start of construction with a symbolic turning of the first sod.

The ceremony was attended by numerous high-level representatives from politics, business and public life, among them Armin Laschet, Minister President of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, who commented: “ALEGrO is a milestone for cross-border power supply and not only connects North Rhine-Westphalia and Belgium, but also brings Europe closer together.” Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, complemented: “ALEGrO becomes part of the EU’s electricity highway system, which links the centres of renewable energy generation with the major consumption centres in Europe.”

For the entire ALEGrO route (about 49km in Belgium and 41km in Germany) underground cabling will be used. The cable laying work is accompanied by the installation of converters at the ends of the cable in Oberzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium, which convert AC into DC and vice versa. ALEGrO will have a transmission capacity of 1,000MW and thus provide urgently needed grid capacities for cross-border electricity flows. At the same time, ALEGrO will also strengthen supply security in the Aachen-Cologne region.

Amprion celebrated the start of construction of the Belgian-German interconnector ALEGrO (picture: Marcus Pietrek / Amprion; from left to right: Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion; Armin Laschet, Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia; Marcel Philipp, Lord Mayor of Aachen)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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