Significant progress for ALEGrO


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)

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Preparations for market inclusion of COBRAcable


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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Royal interest in the Wind Power Hub


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)

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

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TenneT presents Annual Report


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)

> 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


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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> See Energinet project news (html)

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Construction start for ALEGrO


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)

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Laying of NordLink cables in the German Bight


About one year after the first kilometres of submarine cables have been laid in the south Norwegian Vollesfjord, the cable work has now also started on the German NordLink side. Over the next few weeks, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), will lay 99km of cable into the Wadden Sea floor. This first section lies between the Büsum dike in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein and the southwest of the island of Sylt.

In 2019, another 55km will be laid in the German offshore area up to the border of Danish territorial waters. There, the cable end will then be connected to the 228km long cable section to be laid in the Danish North Sea area. TenneT’s submarine cable work is carried out in close coordination with nature conservation authorities. The TSO implements the respective requirements of the competent federal and regional agencies, ministries and administrations strictly to ensure that the Wadden Sea National Park is treated as considerately as possible.

The Nordlink high voltage DC interconnector between Germany and Norway will have a capacity of 1,400MW and a total length of 623km. By coupling different renewable energies and storage forms ‒ Norwegian hydropower plants and wind and solar farms from Germany ‒ NordLink is a “green link” in the truest sense of the word. TenneT cooperates in this European Project of Common Interest (PCI) with the Norwegian TSO Statnet.

The laying of sea cables is accompanied by work on the mainland to connect the respective converter stations. The construction of an overhead line on the Norwegian side is expected to be completed in 2019, and on the German mainland, NordLink will be laid as an underground cable between the Büsum dike and the Wilster converter station starting in 2019. Completion of the entire NordLink interconnector is scheduled for 2020.

The Dutch-German TSO TenneT starts laying of submarine cables for the German-Norwegian interconnector NordLink in the German Bight (picture: TenneT)

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Continuing EIB support for NordLink


The Nordlink interconnector between Germany and Norway is a lighthouse project for the European market integration and energy transition. By coupling Norwegian hydropower capacities with renewable energy from Germany, the high voltage DC line with a capacity of 1,400MW and a total length of 624km (516km of which are submarine cables) is in the truest sense of the word a “green link”. The two transmission system operators (TSOs) involved in the European Project of Common Interest (PCI) are TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, and its Norwegian equivalent, Statnett.

The European Commission (EC) as well as the relevant European institutions are highly aware of NordLink’s significance for the future energy infrastructure of the continent. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is funding NordLink since last year and has now reaffirmed its commitment to the project by closing a single investor tap of TenneT’s 2017 hybrid bond. The EIB has purchased €100m hybrid securities. This transaction ‒ incidentally the bank’s first ever stake in a market hybrid bond issuance ‒ is backed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

Maroš Šefčovič, the EC Vice-President for the Energy Union, welcomes EIB’s support for NordLink as a “forward-looking investment into modern energy infrastructure” and identifies the interconnector as a “smart combination of renewable power generation”. EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle assures that “the security of supply and effective use of renewable energy remain high on the agenda for EIB financing”. Mr Fayolle calls NordLink “exactly the type of project the EIB was set up to do sixty years ago”. And also Otto Jager, CFO at TenneT, is very happy with the development of the project: “We are proud that we are the first issuer of a market hybrid bond with the EIB as participant.”

In support of the construction of NordLink, the EIB closes a €100m single investor tap of hybrid bonds issued by TenneT (picture: TenneT)

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Combined Grid Solution: submarine cable installed


In early May, all of the three offshore platforms for the planned Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak in the Baltic Sea were successfully installed. One of them will not only collect wind power, but also function as linking point for the Combined Grid Solution, the first Danish-German offshore interconnector. The Combined Grid Solution is a joint venture of two TSCNET shareholders, 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and the Danish TSO Energinet.

Just two months later, 50Hertz announces that the next significant step for the project has been taken. The Combined Grid Solution will integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany by linking the German wind farm Baltic 2 with 25 kilometres of submarine cables to Kriegers Flak. Now both cables of the interconnector have been laid out completely. The Baltic 2 platform was the starting point for the cable laying, and on 5 July, the Kriegers Flak platform was reached.

Elke Kwapis, project manager at 50Hertz, acknowledges the good cooperation with Energinet in this process and states: “These are great news. In the business everybody knows how complex the installation of submarine cables can become.” Especially in this case, it was even more challenging than usual, because the Baltic 2 platform was constantly in operation during the cable laying.

The submarine cables for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution of the TSOs 50Hertz and Energinet have been laid out. Picture: Screenshot taken from video “Combined Grid Solution (CGS) by 50Hertz and Energinet“ (50Hertz, YouTube)

> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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Dutch-British WindConnector


The idea of integrating electricity markets by means of connecting the electrical infrastructure of offshore wind farms is anything but new to TSCNET shareholder TenneT. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has been researching the potential of interconnected offshore wind facilities for quite some time, most prominently in shape of the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept. Together with the Swedish energy group Vattenfall, which is also operating in the UK, TenneT has launched another offshore interconnection project, the WindConnector. In concrete terms, the WindConnector is destined to link a substation in the designated Dutch offshore wind area IJmuiden Ver to one of Vattenfall’s substations in British waters.

The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly conduct a study on the technical feasibility, the regulatory challenges, and the benefits of such an offshore interconnector. The anticipated benefits to be confirmed by the study are: Enabling increased electricity trading between the Dutch and British markets, multiple and thus more efficient use of the offshore transmission infrastructure, which ultimately leads to a cost-saving effect since the additional investment is less than with a conventional interconnector. Mel Kroon, CEO of TenneT, comments on the WindConnector: “The fact that this study is done by a European market player and a European grid operator with both extensive offshore experience will prove to be of great value for the further development of offshore wind energy.”

Illustration based on a graphic on WindConnector by TenneT

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