€30m for secure electricity supply in East Tyrol

28.09.2020

Since autumn 2016, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG has been gradually renewing the 220kV switchgear at the Lienz substation in the eastern part of the Austrian state of Tyrol. The substation in Nußdorf-Debant near the medieval town of Lienz is of particular importance for the region’s electricity supply, as it is the only feed-in point from APG’s 380/220kV high-voltage grid for the whole of East Tyrol. For this reason, the TSCNET shareholder is pursuing an extensive investment programme of €30m for the substation to improve the electricity supply in East Tyrol and to enhance the integration of green electricity into the Austrian transmission grid.

The upgrade project also includes a new 380/220kV transformer. Due to its dimensions, it was transported by rail in three individual parts of 167 tonnes each from the Styrian Siemens plant in Weiz via an individual siding directly to the substation. Now the last part has arrived in Lienz and has been placed on its foundation. The total weight of the finished system is 816 tonnes. The state-of-the-art device will be operational from June 2021 and APG expects the upgrade of the entire substation to be completed in autumn 2022.

The Lienz transformer is of supra-regional relevance as it increases system security in all of Austria and also facilitates the country-wide use of climate-friendly wind energy. This is because the transformer strengthens the connection between the pumped storage power plants in the west of the country and the wind turbines in the east. With its investments, APG thus supports the national goal of covering 100% of the electricity consumption in Austria with green electricity by 2030. Company spokesperson Christoph Schuh comments: “All APG grid expansion, modernisation and maintenance projects are crucial for reaching Austria’s climate targets and indispensable cornerstones for guaranteeing the republic’s security of supply.”

APG is investing €30m in the upgrade of the Lienz substation in East Tyrol (picture: Michael Stabentheiner / APG)

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TenneT to invest up to €5bn p.a. for the energy transition

31.07.2020

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT has just published its first-half 2020 report. Needless to say, the second quarter of 2020 was characterised by the corona pandemic and the extensive measures taken to ensure a safe and healthy working environment, but despite this, the TSO has made significant progress in developing the transmission grid onshore and offshore and in integrating growing amounts of renewable electricity. At the same time, TenneT has maintained a high level of supply security of 99.99% for 42m end consumers in Germany and the Netherlands.

As Europe’s first cross-border TSO, TenneT promotes the European market integration. The TSCNET shareholder increasingly benefits from its binational integrated approach to grid planning, management, and operation. Manon van Beek, TenneT’s CEO, comments: “Sharing best practices and lessons learned between our German and Dutch operations is paying off more and more in terms of an integrated approach to offshore and onshore grid expansion, better grid utilisation due to European innovations and cross-border energy system planning.”

TenneT currently operates 14 offshore grid connections, twelve in the German and two in the Dutch North Sea. The twelfth offshore grid connection in Germany, BorWin 3, was handed over to TenneT in the first half of 2020. In Dutch waters, the Borssele Alpha grid connection recently transmitted offshore wind power for the first time and the Borssele Beta grid connection has now been commissioned well ahead of schedule. While in the offshore sector experience from the German market is used for the Dutch, the situation is the other way round when it comes to underground cabling. Here, expertise from the Dutch Randstadt project is applied for the DC connections SuedLink and SuedOstLink. These two largest projects of TenneT, which are being entirely installed underground, will be essential for the transmission of wind energy from northern to southern Germany.

Such efforts require huge investments – facilitated by solid financial results: The underlying operating result (EBIT) increased to €414m in the first half of 2020. During the same period, investments in the German and Dutch high and extra-high voltage grids also increased by approximately 30% compared to the first half of 2019, but will do so much more in the future. TenneT expects a further rise in the annual investment volume to €4 to 5bn in the next years. Otto Jager, CFO of TenneT, explains: “We are going to connect growing amounts of renewable electricity to the grid while facilitating the development of a borderless European electricity market. In light of future equity funding needs, the ongoing talks with the German government about a possible equity participation, next to the Dutch State, are welcomed by TenneT.”

TenneT presents Half-year Report 2020 (picture: TenneT)

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APG: Resilient and good for economy

10.07.2020

At a press conference, Gerhard Christiner and Thomas Karall – CTO and CFO of the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG, respectively – together with Anna Kleissner, member of the board of the Vienna-based Economica Institute of Economic Research, looked back on the last months of grid operation during the Corona period. COVID-19 confronted the TSCNET shareholder with a number of challenges, each of which had to be met in a short period of time: e.g. the decline in electricity consumption, historically low electricity prices, power plant capacities dropping out of the market, or changes in working methods at the TSO.

“This crisis has shown us that we as a system operator must always be prepared for the unforeseen. This includes supply shortages in cases where too little electricity is generated or the grid capacities are insufficient for electricity transmission,” comments Gerhard Christiner, who also assures: “After four months of the Corona pandemic in Austria, we can conclude that the electricity supply has passed this test and was secure at all times.”

However, for the two APG managing directors, the future is what matters most, and in this respect, the TSO’s investments play an important role for the national economy. The integration of renewable energy requires grid extension, and APG will invest €350m in the Austrian economy this year to increase grid capacities. This supports both, the energy transition and the Austrian economy. “With the decline in economic output at the beginning of the year, investments in the domestic economy are all the more valuable now because they represent a real ‘turbo boost’,” states Thomas Karall. This is supported by a recent independent study carried out by ECONOMICA, which indicates that the investments have a domestic value added of €205.7m. “With every euro generated in the construction industry, a further €2.4 in value added is created in the rest of the economy,” explains Anna Kleissner.

APG reflects on grid operation in pandemic times and announces investments of €350m for 2020 (picture of Gerhard Christiner, Thomas Karall, and Anna Kleissner: APG)

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Amprion: Transformation everywhere

25.06.2020

On 24 June, the German transmission system operator (TSO) Amprion presented its Annual Report 2019, due to the corona pandemic, this time as live stream instead of a press conference. The TSCNET shareholder not only reported on its financial figures and innovative concepts – such as Eurobar for offshore integration – but also announced investments of €15bn for achieving the company’s ambitious goals. To this end, Amprion intends to become active on the capital market.

The financial background for the demanding investment plans is excellent: In 2019, TSO was able to increase its revenue by a good four percent to €14.4bn and its net profit by over eight percent to €220m. “We plan to invest €15bn over the next ten years. That means the volume will triple,” stated Amprion’s CFO Peter Rüth during the presentation livestream. As far as capital market activities are concerned, Rüth expects to issue the first bonds in the middle to end of 2021. However, as Dr Hans-Jürgen Brick, CEO of Amprion, explains, the success of the plans also depends on the regulatory environment and the level of remuneration for grid operation.

Amprion recognises its specific responsibility to ensure a climate friendly, secure, and efficient energy system. The TSO’s innovation and infrastructure projects are a contribution to the sustainable transformation of the European energy landscape while maintaining security of supply. In connection with the presentation of the report, Amprion also introduced its new brand identity and new brand claim: “Amprion connects” (“Amprion verbindet” in German). The claim represents the changed self-perception: “We are paving the way for a climate-compatible energy system – and combine this with our responsibility for a stable and secure grid,” comments Dr Brick.

Amprion has presented its Annual Report 2019 and announced investments of €15bn over the next ten years (picture: Amprion)

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€30m for substation upgrade in Lower Austria

19.05.2020

The grid infrastructure of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO), must comply with the changes in the power system. The APG projects in this regard are essential for the success of the energy transition and indispensable for Austria’s secure future electricity supply. One example of this is the modernisation of the Ternitz substation in Neunkirchen in Lower Austria, which was built in 1965. With its reconstruction, the TSO significantly improves the power supply of the industrial district south of Vienna, Upper Styria and the Mürztal valley in north-eastern Styria. In addition, a new phase-shifting transformer (PST) will increase failure safety for all of Austria and facilitate the smart integration of green electricity such as wind power from the Weinviertel region into the APG grid. All in all, the TSO is investing €30m in the substation upgrade.

The Ternitz substation is an important hub in APG’s supraregional power grid. Its infrastructural significance is emphasised by the new 220/110kV transformer, which will be one of three such PSTs in Austria. In the 220kV grid, it regulates the flow of electricity on the power lines in north-south direction and distributes it evenly to assure full electricity supply for the region and for all of Austria. To maintain reliability also during the time of the reconstruction, APG will be keeping the substation in operation with numerous temporary measures. Construction was originally scheduled to be concluded in December 2020, but due to the corona pandemic, completion is expected to be delayed by about three months and is now scheduled for March 2021.

Since mid-April, about 50 APG construction projects that were suspended after the Covid outbreak have been gradually resumed in compliance with the necessary distance and hygiene requirements. APG is thus living up to its responsibility not only towards the energy industry, but also as a driving force for the Austrian economy as a whole. In 2020, the investment volume of all APG construction projects in the areas of grid extension, renovation and maintenance projects will total €350m.

APG is investing €30m in the upgrade of the Ternitz substation in Lower Austria (picture: Christoph Breneis / APG)

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50Hertz turns to green financing

08.05.2020

The grid connections Ostwind 1 and 2 to the offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea northeast of the German island of Rügen belong to the infrastructure projects of 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), which contribute to a sustainable European energy future. Ostwind 1 is already in operation and connects the wind farms “Wikinger” and “Arkona” via two offshore platforms with the Lubmin substation in the Bay of Greifswald. The Ostwind 2 project will connect the nearby wind farms “Arcadis Ost 1” and “Baltic Eagle” to the German extra-high voltage grid. The future transmission capacity of both connections is approximately 1.5GW.

To financially secure these forward-looking projects, the TSCNET shareholder is now active on the green investment market as corporate issuer of Green Debt: On 6 May 2020, Eurogrid GmbH, the parent company of 50Hertz, has issued its first Green Bond in the amount of €750m on the regulated market, thus securing the liquidity for the two offshore projects and further grid expansion necessary for the energy transition.

Marco Nix, CFO of 50Hertz, comments on the bond issue: “With the first Green Bond in our company’s history, we are securing part of the necessary investments in the grid infrastructure over the next few years.” Especially in view of the current difficult economic circumstances, the great interest of the financial markets in the bonds was proof of the confidence in the TSO’s sustainability strategy and investment plans. “The transaction is an important cornerstone in driving forward the expansion of our grid and thus the energy transition,” adds Marco Nix.

50Hertz has successfully issued its first Green Bond in the amount of €750m (picture: 50Hertz)

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€2.9bn for Austria’s grid infrastructure

19.12.2019

Grid expansion planning needs to be transparent and internationally coordinated. Each TSCNET shareholder complies with this and the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG has just implemented these principles with its Network Development Plan 2019 (NDP2019). The thoroughly designed NDP has now been approved by E-Control, the government regulator for electricity and natural gas markets in Austria.

APG will invest €2.9bn over the next ten years to ensure the security of supply and the grid in Austria. Many investments are related to the decarbonisation of Austria and the implementation of the Austrian energy and climate strategy “#mission2030”, which sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030. Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG, explains that “many energy-intensive industrial and commercial enterprises will switch to electricity from renewable sources”. This requires extension measures and the NDP defines the infrastructure projects necessary to facilitate the transmission of the required electricity over the next ten years.

In addition to the very important Salzburg line (“Salzburgleitung”) and the Weinviertel Line (“Weinviertelleitung”) in Lower Austria, transmission capacities and power supply in the central Upper Austria region must be extended. To this end, a feed-in concept was developed for industrial customers. Also important is the speedy expansion of transmission capacities between Austria and Germany and between Austria and Italy.

The Austrian NDP2019 has been approved by the competent government regulator (picture: APG)

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TenneT expands German headquarters

18.10.2019

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT conducts its German business from Bayreuth. Here, in the capital of the Bavarian administrative district of Upper Franconia, TenneT moved into its new corporate headquarters in 2018 and is now investing a further €20m in a new office building with space for around 220 new employees. Construction began on 17 October 2019 with the symbolic ground-breaking ceremony attended by representatives from regional and national politics, associations, partner institutions and employees.

With the increasing challenges arising for TenneT from the energy transition, the number of its employees is also growing proportionally. Their number has risen significantly in recent years, and this growth will continue. In 2016, around 800 people were employed in Bayreuth, today it is almost 1,200. After the completion of the new building planned for 2021, the TSCNET shareholder will employ more than 1,400 people on the so-called TenneT campus.

“This is a strong signal for the enormous growth of TenneT and a clear commitment to the location in Bayreuth,” explains TenneT CFO Otto Jager. “From here, we will advance the energy transition with grid extension and innovation projects for a secure electricity supply.”

TenneT celebrates the construction start of a new office building on the Tennet Campus in Bayreuth (picture: TenneT; from left to right: Thomas Löw, CTO of the construction company Markgraf, Bayreuth’s Lord Mayor Brigitte Merk-Erbe, TenneT CFO Otto Jager and architect Johannes Jung)

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Billions for the Austrian electricity infrastructure

12.04.2019

The electricity transmission system of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) is increasingly reaching its limits due to the restructuring of the energy system, notably through the integration of renewable energies. As a result, TSO interventions for grid stability and security of supply are currently causing monthly costs of €10m for Austrian electricity customers. APG is determined to respond with an even faster expansion of its high-voltage grid.

The recently granted official approval for the construction of the 380kV Salzburg Line (“Salzburgleitung”) is only the beginning of fulfilling the “#mission 2030”, the Austrian energy and climate strategy that sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030. APG has announced the “Austrian Electricity Infrastructure Billion” for further major projects to sustainably secure Austria’s power supply – the largest investment offensive to date into the Austrian transmission grid with a total of €2.5 bn over the next 10 years.

In addition to the Salzburg Line, there are two other large-scale projects: The expansion of the existing grid in the greater Linz Area and beyond (Project “Upper Austria Central Region”) and the replacement of the overhead line through the Weinviertel (“wine quarter”) in the northeast of Lower Austria. For the volatility management that will become more and more necessary in the future, APG is also pursuing innovation projects focusing on central topics like battery storage, digital substations or sector coupling.

“Full focus on renewables is the only sensible way,” explain Gerhard Christiner and Thomas Karall, CTO and CFO of APG respectively. However, they also emphasise that a strong transmission system is the precondition for the full integration of renewables, the decarbonisation targets of the industry, the full utilisation of the pumped storage potential in the Alps and the reduction of costs for grid-stabilising emergency measures.

APG launches billion-euro investment strategy for infrastructure (picture: screenshot taken from video “Wind braucht starke Netze”, APG/YouTube)

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Investing in green energy

23.05.2018

The expansion of the transmission infrastructure for the integration of renewable energies is a cardinal obligation for transmission system operators (TSO) in the 21st century. As far as TSCNET shareholder TenneT is concerned, the ongoing efforts of the Dutch-German TSO to promote sustainable energy sources are not limited to the physical implementation of infrastructure projects. TenneT is also active on the financial market as the largest corporate issuer of Green Debt in the Netherlands.

Now, the TSO has again successfully issued €1.25bn of long term Green Bonds on the Dutch market in two tranches of €500m and €750m respectively. This adds up to €6.25bn of green issuances since TenneT established its green financing framework in 2015. Over the next 10 years, TenneT’s investments in Dutch and German offshore and onshore grid connections are expected to total €28bn. With the inclusion of the Dutch offshore projects Borssele Alpha and Borssele Beta, eleven projects are currently part of the Green Project Portfolio and financed through TenneT’s Green Bonds.

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