Onshore converter for the Combined Grid Solution

31.01.2020

The Danish-German Combined Grid Solution (CGS) in the Baltic Sea is the world’s first offshore interconnector to use national grid connections of offshore wind farms to link the transmission systems of two countries. For this purpose, submarine cables were laid between the offshore transformer stations of the German wind farm Baltic 2 and the Kriegers Flak wind farm in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea. The CGS is a joint project of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and TSCNET customer Energinet, the TSO from Denmark.

The Bentwisch substation near the Baltic port city of Rostock houses the German onshore converters for the CGS. Here 50Hertz has installed a double converter system including a back-to-back converter. This is essential for balancing the asynchronous transmission systems of Germany and Eastern Denmark: The AC from the Nordic synchronous area is converted into DC and directly back into AC, now adapted to the European synchronous area.

50Hertz has now successively energised and commissioned all converter components in Bentwisch. The new equipment and further extensions of the substation had to be individually synchronised with the control technology in a series of individual testing and commissioning steps. The operational readiness of the double converter system in Bentwisch marks another important milestone on the way to the commissioning of the entire CGS.

The German onshore converter for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution has been commissioned by 50Hertz (picture: Jan Pauls / 50Hertz)

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ENTSO-E’s MAF 2019 is out now

23.11.2019

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has released the new 2019 edition of the Midterm Adequacy Forecast (MAF). In this context, “adequacy” refers to the balance between electricity generation and demand and the forecast is based on a comprehensive mathematical analysis of future pan-European supply security over the period up to 2021 and 2025. The MAF examines not only the interdependencies of supply and demand, but also of storage, climatic conditions, and interconnection capacity. This year, the data granularity and quality were further improved, in particular, with information on thermal generation, an improved hydrological database and a new calculation methodology for demand time series.

The results of MAF 2019 show a low risk for adequacy. However, the MAF also underlines the increasingly important role of cross-border cooperation between transmission system operators (TSOs) in promoting adequacy throughout the interconnected pan-European electricity system. As in the previous issue, MAF 2019 includes a low carbon scenario that considers the impact of the decommissioning of coal-fired plants by 2025. Here the results for some market areas directly or indirectly affected show increased risks. Sources of flexibility such as demand side patterns, storage, interconnections and enhanced and smarter integration of renewable and distributed energy sources are thus required.

The MAF is part of the broader 10-year Network Development Plan (TYNDP), which assesses system needs up to 2040. The results of MAF 2019 will be open to public consultation until 13 January 2020. In addition, ENTSO-E will organise a public webinar on 4 December to discuss the MAF results.

ENTSO-E has released the MAF 2019 (picture: ENTSO-E)

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First cables of ALEGrO installed

27.09.2019

The “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay” (ALEGrO) will be the first direct interconnector of the German and Belgian electricity grids. Its transmission capacity of 1,000MW is going to significantly increase cross-border electricity flows and security of supply in the regions surrounding the new converter stations at the respective ALEGrO end points, Niederzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is jointly being implemented by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and the Belgian TSO Elia.

In the summer of 2019, several teams were working simultaneously at different points along the 41km-long ALEGrO section in Germany on the installation of the conduit system for the underground cables. Underground cabling is used exclusively for the entire German-Belgian power bridge. Due to the dry summer, construction work on the DC link has progressed rapidly: 60 percent of the cable conduits have already been completed. Amprion is now beginning to pull the 320kV cables successively into the conduits, initially in Niederzier, where the construction of the new ALEGrO converter plant is also progressing well.

Amprion starts the installation of ALEGrO underground cables (picture: Rheinhard Nießing / Amprion)

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COBRAcable market launch on 7 September

02.09.2019

After three years of construction, including the laying of the submarine cables as well as the construction of two onshore converter stations, and a successful test phase earlier this year, COBRAcable will be available for the electricity market as of the delivery day of 7 September, which is exactly on schedule. The first direct connection between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands was jointly realised and is operated by the two TSCNET shareholders Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO.

The high-voltage DC cable with a length of about 325km has a capacity of 700MW. The Netherlands can import more sustainable electricity from Denmark through COBRAcable, mainly wind energy. In addition, the cable provides Dutch capacity on a structural basis for the Danish electricity grid, thus ensuring security of supply in Denmark, which of course also works the other way round. Moreover, the cable connection is designed in such a way that an offshore wind farm can be connected at a later date, so that COBRAcable contributes to a sustainable European energy landscape.

The COBRAcable interconnector of Energinet and Tennet is available to the market from 7 September (picture: screenshot taken from TenneT-video “First pile COBRAcable”, YouTube)

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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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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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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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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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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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