Lex Hartman resigns and TenneT adjusts management structures

02.01.2019

On 1 January 2019, personnel and structural changes at management level took effect at TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). To begin with, Managing Director Lex Hartman resigns from the Executive Boards of TenneT TSO GmbH and TenneT TSO B.V. In addition, the company’s governance structure, related to the ongoing process of refining TenneT’s development strategy, will be adapted to better achieve the TSO’s future objectives.

TenneT CEO Manon van Beek wholeheartedly thanks Lex Hartman for his “major contributions in the Executive Board to the development of TenneT” and especially emphasised his significant role for “the improvement of TenneT’s visibility and reputation in Germany”. Lex Hartman, who began his career with TenneT in 1999 and held various positions during his long term of office, has been a member of the Executive Board of TenneT Holding BV since 2008 and of TenneT TSO GmbH since 2010. Mr. Hartmann indicates the need for a personal change after more than 10 years “as a board member for this fantastic company” and further comments: “I am grateful that TenneT gave me the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to society.” However, Hartman will continue to serve the Executive Board as a strategic advisor.

As far as the new board structure is concerned, the Executive Board of TenneT Holding BV now consists of four directors: Manon van Beek (CEO), Otto Jager (CFO) and two COOs, Ben Voorhorst and Wilfried Breuer. The nomination of Wilfried Breuer is only temporary, as he has decided to accept a position as Technical Director at a manufacturer of power engineering technology. TenneT thanks Mr Breuer for his substantial contributions and commitment. In the first quarter of 2019, he will continue to work with the TSO, while the search for his successor has already begun.

Lex Hartman resigns from the Executive Boards of TenneT (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release on Mr Hartman’s resignation (html)
> See TenneT press release on management changes (html)

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Dutch recovery facility ready for operation

04.10.2018

Although it is most unlikely that there will ever be a complete power outage in the Netherlands, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the German-Dutch transmission system operator (TSO), wants to be prepared even for such an unimaginable scenario and thus also fulfil European agreements. For these reasons, a new recovery facility for the high-voltage grid was put into operation at the gas-fired Enecogen power plant in the Rotterdam-Europoort area.

In the event of a total blackout, the Dutch power plants will have to be reactivated, which is exactly the task of the new equipment. Like an enormous starter motor, the system ‒ consisting of an emergency generator and a gas turbine ‒ switches the Rotterdam power station back on. Then the rest of the power supply, be it other large-scale plants, solar or wind farms, is connected back to the grid step by step in order to quickly reactivate the national transmission system.

The Enecogen recovery facility is the third emergency system contracted by TenneT in the Netherlands. With comparable units in the north and centre of the country, the new “starter of the south” now completes the TSO’s emergency and recovery concept for total power failures.

In the port of Rotterdam, a new recovery facility for outages in the Dutch transmission grid was commissioned on behalf of TenneT (Picture: TenneT)

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Dutch research on decentral balance maintenance

05.09.2018

The continuous maintenance of the balance in the electrical transmission grid between customer demand and supply is one of the core tasks of any transmission system operator (TSO). In order to further improve performance in this respect and to make balance maintenance more decentralised, TSCNET shareholder TenneT wants to explore possibilities to offer local electricity generation and regulating capacities. Decentral maintenance methods appear to be an appropriate response to an increasingly volatile and decentral energy generation. For this reason, the Dutch-German TSO has launched a pilot research project on the enhanced and decentral use of automatic Frequency Restoration Reserves (aFRR) within the Dutch transmission system.

TenneT is cooperating with seven partners from the energy sector on this project, which is a follow-up to a previous collaboration with the Dutch green energy supplier Vandebron on the employment of e-car batteries for grid control measures. With six additional partners, the field of investigation is now being expanded to also include wind and solar energy, combined heat and power generation, heating grids, electric boilers as well as electric pumps. This provides the research with the broadest possible spectrum of technologies and the widest scope of possible applications.

The pilot project derives its significance from the fact that currently the use of alternative energies in the aFRR market is not always possible due to inadequate specifications and technologies. TenneT aims to explore and, as far as possible, remove the technical hurdles in order to facilitate the use of regulating capacities from decentralised and sustainable sources.

TenneT launches pilot research project on the decentralised use of automatic Frequency Restoration Reserves for balance maintenance (illustration based on pictures from TenneT)

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First Borssele jacket ready for shipping

31.07.2018

A height of 55m, a length of 50m, a width of 28m, and a total weight of about 2730t ‒ these are the stately specifications of the jacket for the first transformer platform in the Borssele offshore wind farm zone. The connection of this area in the Dutch part of the North Sea to the onshore grid is the first large-scale connection project of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, which is being implemented under the Dutch National Energy Agreement for offshore wind farms. With the completion of the first platform substructure in a shipyard in Schiedam in greater Rotterdam, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has reached the first milestone in the realisation of the Borssele connection project.

During the so-called load out, a time-consuming precision procedure, the jacket was lifted onto a seagoing barge. On Sunday 5 August, the heavily laden barge will start its journey through the Nieuwe Waterweg canal to the Borssele I wind farm area. Here, a special crane vessel will install the jacket on the seabed, which is planned for the period from 6 to 16 August. Wilfried Breuer, member of the TSO’s Executive Board and Managing Director TenneT Offshore, comments on the progress of the Borssele project: “I am proud that we can make such a major contribution to the energy transition, in which offshore wind energy plays a crucial role.”

The jacket for the first platform of the Borssele grid connection, a project of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, is ready for transport (picture: Robert Nagelkerke / TenneT)

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Investing in energy transition – TenneT report

25.07.2018

The Half Year Report of the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT does not only provide satisfactory figures, but also shows that the business of a transmission system operator (TSO) with a control area from the seashores to the Alps is essentially divided into two parts: connecting offshore wind energy capacity to the onshore grid and ensuring the transport of sustainable generated electricity to wherever it is needed. To further support the energy transition, TenneT is accelerating the realisation of large-scale projects in the Dutch sector of the North Sea and on the German mainland. The TSO’s commitment to the European energy future is reflected with a total of €904m of investments in the transmission systems in the first half of 2018 ‒ not only impressive compared to the first half of 2017 (€750m).

By 2030, TenneT plans to have connected a total of 11.5GW of offshore wind energy to the grid in the Netherlands. Three years earlier, in 2027, the TSO aims to achieve a total transmission capacity of 11GW for the German North Sea. The most outstanding onshore infrastructural projects are the German supraregional extra-high voltage lines SuedLink and SuedOstLink with a length of 700km and 580km, respectively, and a combined capacity of 6GW. Both DC lines will partially be realised by means of underground cabling and are joint ventures of TSCNET shareholders. On SuedLink, TenneT cooperates with TransnetBW, and on SuedOstLink with 50Hertz. To help financing its investments in the transmission of the renewables, TenneT in March 2018 again has issued long term green bonds in two tranches with a nominal total value of €1.25bn. Altogether, TenneT has issued €6.25bn in green bonds to date.

Mel Kroon, CEO at TenneT, emphasises the company’s “central position in the energy transition” and considers that the construction of new infrastructure alone is not enough to meet the challenges of the future, “but also the development of innovative hard- and software systems for real-time coordination of the variable supply of green electricity.” Mr Kroon expresses the need for a new energy system, and points out the unexploited potential of green hydrogen for flexibility and storage solutions: “Following the successful development of offshore wind energy, we now need to focus on promoting the production of green hydrogen in order to facilitate long-term energy storage and make the industrial and transport sectors far more sustainable.”

TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, presents the Half Year Report 2018

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TenneT identified as digital pioneer

26.06.2018

“Digitalisation is becoming increasingly important for the secure and efficient operation of the grid, which is why we are the first transmission system operator (TSO) to broadly explore the possibilities offered by digitalisation.“ Lex Hartman, executive board member of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, has every reason to make that claim, since the Dutch-German TSO has been designated one of the top 10 Dutch “Transformers” in the digital transformation.

For the annual “FD Transformers” survey conducted by the Dutch newspaper “Het Financieele Dagblad” and the Vlerick Business School, 200 of the largest Dutch companies have been taken into account. René Kerkmeester, Senior Manager Digital Transformation at TenneT, emphasises the essential contribution of TenneT‘s digitalisation team to the company‘s high ranking and concludes: “We are preparing our organisation and the electricity market for a sustainable future, with a greater share of renewable energy sources.“

Currently, the TSO carries out four digitalisation projects, including three blockchain solution pilots in Germany and the Netherlands to facilitate access to local and decentral electricity capacities. These projects involve home energy storage systems and vehicle-to-grid-technologies respectively. Another blockchain pilot focuses on e-car batteries to compensate for frequency deviations. The fourth project explores the potential of sensors in vehicles for the improvement of solar energy generation forecasts. TenneT has announced to launch more pilot projects in the coming months.

The Dutch-German TSO TenneT proves to be a digital frontrunner. Illustration on a digital enterprise (source: www.siemens.com/presse).

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Dutch-British WindConnector

14.06.2018

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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North Sea Wind Power Hub presentation

25.05.2018

The road to a sustainable low-carbon energy future cannot be successfully pursued without ambitious and courageous lighthouse projects. With a fundamentally original concept of combining wind energy production, storage and transmission with a multinational interconnector, the North Sea Wind Power Hub vision definitely falls into that category. The hub concept comprises one or more so-called Power Link Islands which are built in shallow North Sea waters with ideal wind conditions and connected to multiple offshore wind facilities. The vision also includes power to gas technologies in the form of gas-based transmission and storage solutions. Such islands facilitate the distribution and transmission of wind power and may additionally serve to interconnect the transmission systems of the North Sea neighbouring states.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub was originally conceived by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The Hub consortium by now also consists of Danish TSO Energinet, another TSCNET shareholder, the Dutch natural gas infrastructure and transmission company Gasunie and the Port of Rotterdam. The Clean Energy Ministerial ‒ part of this year’s Nordic Clean Energy Week in Copenhagen and Malmö ‒ provided a welcome opportunity to showcase the North Sea Wind Power Hub in front of a considerable number of Energy Ministers from most of the largest economies in the world, as well as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and The Netherlands.

Lars Barfoed, Chairman of the Board of Energinet, took over the presentation on behalf of the consortium. Mr Barfoed identified the shared vision of new energy highways and trade corridors between the North Sea riparians as “bold, but simple”. Instead of individual national offshore connections for the integration of ever increasing offshore wind energy, an internationally coordinated hub concept would be much more efficient, also in economic terms. Of course, the vison requires sustainable political support and cooperation at the international level. “We need to focus more on the whole picture,” explains Mr Barfoed. “If a wind power hub in the North Sea is to move from vision to reality, whatever its technical and economic potential, it requires massive political support from a large number of participating countries.”

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

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “North Sea Wind Power Hub vision” (North Sea Wind Power Hub Consortium, 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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High costs prevent superconductor in Enschede

11.05.2018

A transmission system operator (TSO) is responsible for a secure and sufficient supply of electricity within its control area. But besides issues of system security and reliability, TSOs have to operate cost-efficiently to provide customers with an appropriate electricity rate. Such economic requirements apply to the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT as well as to any other TSO, and also in consideration of the given official regulations, TenneT is expected to be economical in its publicly-funded investments in the high-voltage grid.

In the city of Enschede in the eastern Dutch province of Overijssel, TenneT investigated wether the installation of a 3.4km-long section of superconducting cable is feasible and reasonable. As it turned out, a superconductor would cost about four times more than a conventional cable under the specific conditions in Enschede. This excessive difference in investment costs led TenneT to refrain from the ambitious cable project.

A High-Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) cable can transmit up to five times more electricity than a conventional cable. Apart from that, it emits neither an electromagnetic field nor heat, resulting in significantly lower spatial requirements. Although this actually makes a superconductor highly suitable for inner-city applications, it would currently be too expensive to install a superconducting cable of only a few kilometres in length. But as HTS-technology is developing rapidly, a superconductor could become more affordable in the future. Given these conditions, TenneT will reconsider the deployment of HTS even for short intra-urban cable sections.

> See TenneT press release (html)

Picture: “Kleurrijk Enschede” by Fred Veenkamp (Creative Commons BY-SA 2.

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