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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Borssele Beta is ready for the grid

31.07.2020

Borssele Beta is the second high-voltage grid connection for offshore wind farms in Dutch territorial waters of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT. Like Borssele Alpha, the first Dutch offshore connection, it transmits green electricity generated in the Borssele wind farm area ashore, in this case from the Borssele III, IV and V wind farms. The operators of these three farms can hook up their wind turbines to the high-voltage grid one month earlier than scheduled, as TenneT has just received the “Grid Readiness” certification from the internationally accredited registrar and classification society DNV GL. This means that Borssele Beta fully complies with the criteria of the “Ontwikkelkader windenergie op zee”, the Offshore Wind Energy Development Framework of the Dutch Government.

The Borssele III, IV and V wind farms will have a total capacity of 700MW. The electricity generated here is collected by the offshore transformer platform, which converts the voltage from 66kV to 220kV for transmission via submarine cables to the onshore substation in Borssele. For feeding into the high-voltage grid, the voltage is then converted to 380kV. Marco Kuijpers, Director Offshore Projects at TenneT, comments on the rapid realisation: “We are proud of the fact that the second part of the Borssele high voltage connection is already complete and was realised within budget. Despite all the Covid-19 challenges, we were successful in continuing with the works; a huge achievement from all the contract parties involved.”

By the end of 2023, TenneT will have installed 3.5GW of offshore grid connections in the Netherlands, of which the first 1.4GW have already been achieved with Borssele Alpha and Beta. The next projects are Hollandse Kust (zuid) Alpha and Beta, followed by Hollandse Kust (noord). For these wind farms, TenneT will deploy five identical 700MW transformer platforms and identical 220kV cable connections. This standardisation allows TenneT to realise these projects faster, more efficiently, and more economically. The governmental Dutch follow-up roadmap for offshore development provides for an additional 6.1GW of offshore wind farms from 2024 to the end of 2030, located in the wind energy areas Hollandse Kust (west), Ten Noorden van de Waddeneilanden and IJmuiden Ver. Only for the first two, TenneT will again use standardised 700MW platforms. The efficient connection of IJmuiden Ver, located further out in the North Sea, partly requires other technologies based on DC instead of AC. IJmuiden Ver will have two offshore transformer platforms with a capacity of 2GW each, which is unique in the offshore wind industry.

The Borssele Beta offshore grid connection of TenneT is ready for transmission (picture: TenneT)

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TenneT records 21% increase in offshore transmission

28.07.2020

In the first half of 2020, the wind energy transmitted from the North Sea ashore by the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT rose to 11.51TWh. This represents an increase of 21.1% compared with the 9.51TWh in the first half of 2019, bringing the North Sea’s share of total wind power generation in Germany to 15.6%. The maximum feed-in volume from offshore wind farms in the German North Sea was 6,035MW on 2 January 2020. By 30 June, the generation capacity of the German North Sea wind farms reached 6,679MW, a volume which is exceeded by TenneT’s offshore transmission capacity of 7,132MW. This amount, which is higher than the German government’s 2020 target (6.5GW for the North and Baltic Seas combined), is currently being achieved with twelve German offshore grid connections.

Tim Meyerjürgens, COO of the TSCNET shareholder, comments on the impressive figures: „The expansion and integration of offshore wind energy is of central importance for the European energy transition.” And offshore development is also keeping pace in the Dutch market: “With Borssele alpha and – from mid-August – Borssele beta, we have now also successfully completed the first two offshore connections in the Dutch North Sea.” TenneT promotes capacity expansion with technical innovations and, according to Meyerjürgens, wants to remain a driving force in the offshore sector: “Ever since TenneT set the standard for plastic-insulated DC cables at 320kV in the offshore sector around ten years ago, we have been defining a new global benchmark for the future with our 525kV DC subsea cable system and its transmission capacity of two GW.”

The 525kV development programme should lead to a standardised cable system that the TSO can employ by 2030 for the three German North Sea projects BalWin1, BalWin2, BalWin3 and the two Dutch projects IJmuiden Ver alpha and beta as well as in potential further projects of equal power and voltage. TenneT is expecting lower costs, greater security of supply and less impact on the environment. These efforts require considerable investment: “We have an investment programme of around €20bn earmarked for connecting offshore wind energy in the Netherlands and Germany by 2030,” explains Meyerjürgens. Important in this context are also hydrogen and hybrid initiatives. The North Sea Wind Power Hubs proposed by TenneT explicitly include power to gas concepts. Furthermore, in June, TenneT proposed to the EU and the Dutch and German governments an integrated energy system approach for the international offshore development.

TenneT increased its transmission of offshore wind energy by 21% in the first half of 2020 (picture: TenneT)

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Launch of the Equigy balancing platform

25.04.2020

To ensure the stability of the grid frequency, transmission system operators (TSOs) all over Europe respond to the increasingly volatile generation of energy from renewable sources and to the loss of reactive power from large power plants. The challenge of keeping production and consumption in balance does not stop at national borders, for which reason the TSCNET shareholders Swissgrid, the TSO from Switzerland, and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, are cooperating with the Italian TSO Terna in the crowd balancing platform Equigy. The platform is based on blockchain technology and the internet of things. It is conceived as digital link between the so-called TSO ancillary service markets and the market players that deliver balancing services. TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish TSO, has formally expressed its intention to join the consortium, which would extend Equigy’s roll-out to Denmark.

With their cross-border cooperation, the consortium of Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna wants to set a new electricity-balancing standard, improve the integration of renewables, and provide more flexibility to reduce the renewables’ random impact on the grid. As with previous, regionally limited balancing projects, Equigy aims to unlock flexibility by actively involving small and distributed consumer-based generation and consumption units in grid stabilisation. This involvement enables owners of small-scale assets to play a key role in the transformation of the energy sector by optimising their interaction with the grid. Since Equigy processes multiple small transactions, it requires a secure and scalable solution that ensures trust and transparency between all parties involved. The common vision of the participating TSOs is clear: Millions of households will stabilise the electricity grid in the future.

Open and free of charge
Equigy is based on block chain technology to execute transactions from millions of individual systems securely, cost-effectively, and transparently. This creates a single, immutable, and secure data source from which all parties can benefit. Precise rules and regulations allow consumers, businesses, and manufacturers to easily market the flexible capacity of electric vehicles, household batteries, and heat pumps in all participating countries, regardless of location, thereby simplifying access to the electricity market. At the same time, all local or regional flexibility platforms can be connected to the Equigy platform so that as much flexibility as possible can be bundled. This means: Equigy is not exclusive and can be integrated into existing grid stabilisation processes. The technology and software are open-source and provided free of charge to promote the development of secondary applications in the energy value chain. Equigy has now been successfully launched, and the pilot project to test the technology will run until the end of 2020.

In Switzerland, the project has attracted a lot of interest. Numerous partners have expressed an interest in participating. Yves Zumwald, CEO of Swissgrid, comments: “We are proud to be a founding partner of Equigy. It’s only natural that this ambitious initiative is being driven by TSOs. We are not subject to commercial constraints and are able to operate the new platform adopting a neutral position.” Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, can also be pleased to have various Equigy partners in Germany and the Netherlands. She emphasises the European dimension of the project: “Equigy originated from European cooperation. In a common European market, we will have to develop solutions together. We already have the same sockets. It would be a shame and unnecessarily expensive to develop different systems.”

Expansion to the north
The Danish TSO Energinet recognises the potential of Equigy and is highly interested in participating. The consortium behind Equigy appreciates this interest. Swissgrid, TenneT, Terna, and Energinet have thus signed a Letter of Intent in which the parties confirm their common interest in including Energinet in Equigy. Energinet will now examine the possibilities of becoming part of the cooperation. All partners aim to take a decision on Energinet’s accession before the end of this year. Søren Dupont Kristensen, CEO of Energinet Electricity System Operator, explains: “We are now investigating the potential of this platform in the context of the Danish energy system. Based on our findings, we will decide on joining the collaboration regarding the platform.”

The blockchain based crowd balancing platform Equigy has been launched by Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna

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TenneT develops 525kV HVDC offshore cable system

20.04.2020

In just 10 years, 40% of the Dutch electricity demand will be covered by offshore wind power. Furthermore, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT will increase the German offshore grid connection capacity to 17GW by 2030. To meet these high ambitions, the TSCNET shareholder expands its current connection plans and additionally intends to implement a total of five 2GW offshore connections in the Dutch IJmuiden Ver wind energy area and in the German LanWin and BalWin areas. However, since such 2GW offshore grid connections do not yet exist, innovative project development is necessary.

The integration of 2GW offshore grid connections into the onshore grid requires a suitable certified cable system that operates at a voltage level of 525kV DC using extruded insulation types. TenneT has contracted a total of eight cable suppliers to develop these “next-level” submarine cables for the intended high-performance offshore connections. An extruded 525kV high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable system with a 2GW output is currently not implemented in any project worldwide and would thus set a new standard for the connection of offshore wind farms.

The new cable system is expected to reduce manufacturing and installation costs for the entire connection concept, including the HVDC offshore and onshore transformer stations. A reduction in dredging costs is also anticipated, as all cables can be laid in a single trench. Moreover, fewer offshore platforms and shore stations are required, resulting in lower emissions and environmental impact. The adoption of a 525kV 2GW grid concept is a logical step for TenneT after the installation of eight standard AC connections in the Netherlands. The TSO can already draw on extensive experience with DC projects in Germany.

TenneT has contracted eight cable suppliers to develop a 525kV HVDC offshore cable system with a 2GW capacity (exemplary picture of Riffgat cables: TenneT)

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Borssele Beta platform topside ready for sail out

20.03.2020

In the Borssele offshore wind farm area in the south-western part of the Dutch North Sea, Borssele Alpha, the first and largest connection system for wind farms from the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT in Dutch territorial waters, is already in operation. Now the TSCNET shareholder is in the process of installing Borssele Beta to connect further wind farms, in this case Borssele III and IV that are still under construction. The topside of the offshore transformer platform for Borssele Beta is now ready for shipping. It was built at the construction yard of the offshore platform specialist HSM Offshore in Schiedam in the Rotterdam-The Hague metropolitan area and will be put to sea on 22 March 2020.

When the pontoon carrying the 3,650-tonne superstructure arrives at its destination, a crane vessel will place the top side on the platform substructure (jacket). The top side comprises three interior levels and an outer deck. It is 25 metres high, 58 metres long and 32 metres wide. The Borssele Beta grid connection will have a capacity of 700MW and is scheduled to be commissioned on 1 September 2020. The Borssele III, IV, and V wind farms, which are located about 22km from the coast, will be connected to this transmission system. Borssele V by the Two Towers consortium has been designated as an innovation site within the wind farm zone and will be connected to Borssele Beta. The electricity generated by these offshore wind farms will then be transported ashore via two 67-kilometre-long cables to the high-voltage transformer station near the town of Borssele in the Dutch province of Zeeland.

Marco Kuijpers, Director Offshore Projects a TenneT, comments on the TSO’s progress in offshore expansion: “With this platform, the offshore grid that TenneT is building in the Dutch North Sea is definitively taking shape. Borssele Beta is the second offshore grid connection built by TenneT. Over the coming eight years we will build a new offshore connection every year. I am proud that we are able to make such a significant contribution to the energy transition in which offshore wind energy plays a crucial role.”

TenneT also assumes a marine ecological responsibility and makes its offshore platforms available for other uses. The TSO cooperates in this respect with the Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat). The Borssele Beta offshore platform therefore also features a Maritime Information Provision Service Point (MIVSP). This is a monitoring station with various monitoring systems, such as nautical radars, meteorological systems and ecological monitoring systems. Similar stations are being installed on every TenneT offshore transformer platform.

The topside of the offshore transformer platform Borssele Beta of TenneT is constructed and ready for shipping (picture: HSM Offshore)

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TenneT creates, invests and researches for the energy future

12.03.2020

Promoting the energy transition is a priority objective of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). This is clearly reflected in the TSO’s just-published Integrated Annual Report. As in recent years, the Annual Report is accompanied by the Green Finance Report 2019.

In line with the energy policy and climate goals of the Netherlands and Germany, TenneT increased its investments yet again in 2019 and spent €3.1bn on the energy transition and supply security (grid availability of 99.9998% in 2019). This financial commitment is even to be stepped up: TenneT is planning annual investments of €4bn to €5bn for the future. The financial performance of the company, with revenues of €4.1bn in 2019 and an EBIT (excluding special effects) of €753m, supports these ambitious plans. Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, has every reason to be content with the sound development of the TSO: “We have made great strides again in pursuing our ambition to achieve a sustainable energy future for everyone. Not only in realising and developing new onshore and offshore connections, but also by the required far-reaching international cooperation and working on innovations in close coordination with relevant stakeholders.”

As regards offshore connections, TenneT has already exceeded in 2019 the German government’s expansion target for offshore wind power capacity in the North and Baltic Sea, which is 6.5GW for 2020. With last year’s commissioning of BorWin 3, TenneT’s ninth offshore grid connection system in DC technology, the TSO now has a total of twelve offshore grid connections in operation (nine in DC and three in AC technology) with a total capacity of 7.1GW. But TenneT is not resting on its successes to date: The connection systems DolWin5, DolWin6, and BorWin5 are being developed and will increase the offshore transmission capacity provided by TenneT for wind farms in the German North Sea to almost 10GW by 2025. In addition, Borssele Alpha, TenneT’s first offshore connection system in AC technology in the Dutch North Sea, was installed on schedule and is now ready for operation. Borssele Beta will be completed in 2020.

Onshore, TenneT has eight transmission lines under construction in Germany, more than ever before. In the Netherlands, the 60km-long Randstad 380kV North Ring power line was put into operation, reliably supplying Europe’s most densely populated area with electricity and providing transmission capacity for green energy. At European level, the “green” COBRAcable deserves special mention, which since 2019 directly connects the Dutch and Danish markets for the first time. The German and Norwegian markets will also be directly connected by the NordLink cable, which is currently under construction. On top of this, a proof-of-concept for the North Sea Wind Power Hub has shown the technical feasibility of the concept of multiple wind power distribution hubs in the North Sea.

All these grid expansion projects are complemented by innovative solutions and intensive research to better utilise TenneT’s existing transmission system. These include vehicle-to-grid pilots, the deployment of home storage systems in grid stabilisation and digital solutions for higher grid utilisation. Another long-term innovation project is Element One, a 100MW electrolysis plant to be built in Germany to promote an integrated energy system.

TenneT presents Integrated Annual Report 2019 and Green Finance Report 2019 (picture: TenneT)

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Deep Dig-It trencher at work for TenneT

09.03.2020

The Hollandse Kust (South) offshore wind area in the Dutch North Sea is located 22 kilometres off the coast of the Dutch province of Zuid-Holland. TSCNET shareholder TenneT is responsible for connecting the wind farms under construction there via two corresponding offshore platforms to the onshore high-voltage substation in the industry and port area of Maasvlakte, from where the green electricity is transmitted further to the Randstad 380kV South Ring power line in the Dutch Randstad region, the most densely populated area in Europe, and further.

But there is a major challenge to be met by the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO): On the first ten kilometres of the offshore route, the four submarine cables to be laid are crossing the entrance to Europe’s busiest cargo port, the port of Rotterdam. To pass through the busy Rotterdam-Maasmond shipping lane, the cables here must be buried more than 5 metres deep into the seabed. For this specific job, the Dutch maritime contracting company Van Oord designed and built the Deep Dig-It trencher, a gigantic remote-controlled trencher.

Last Friday, final tests were carried out in the Aleksiahaven of Maasvlakte in preparation for the actual laying of the submarine cables in July. The innovative device is a so-called Tracked Remotely Operated Vehicle, which drives unmanned over the seabed, creates a deep trench for the cables, inserts the cables and closes the trench again. The Deep Dig-It is the largest and most powerful machine in its class. The trencher weighs 125 tonnes, is more than 17 metres long, well over 8 metres high and 11 metres wide. This makes it possible to bury cables in very hard ground, while the burial depth that can be achieved with the Deep Dig-It is well over 5 metres.

TenneT employs the powerful Deep Dig-It trencher to connect the Hollandse Kust (South) wind farms to the onshore grid (picture: Van Oord nv)

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COBRAcable proves to be a great success

06.03.2020

It is now half a year since TSCNET customer Energinet, the transmission system operator (TSO) from Denmark, and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, made COBRAcable available to the market. The high-voltage DC cable with a length of about 325km and a capacity of 700MW is the first direct connection between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands. The basic idea behind COBRAcable is to compensate for the volatility of wind power. Consequently, the Netherlands imports electricity via the cable on days with large Danish wind power generation, while on days with little wind in Denmark the electricity is transported in the opposite direction.

This works perfectly, as the interconnector’s transmission data from the first six-month period prove: In total, Denmark has imported almost 700GWh via the COBRAcable and the Netherlands almost 1,400GWh. On average, COBRAcable was operated at full capacity 79% of the time during the last half year. The impressive traffic on this binational connection proves its adequacy through its operation. The new interconnector therefore substantially contributes to the energy transition by exchanging volatile renewable energy across borders and additionally creates a trading profit on the spot market for electricity – a multiple benefit for nature, society and the companies involved.

The transmission data from the COBRAcable of Energinet and TenneT confirm a high level of traffic on the line (picture: screenshot taken from Energinet-video “Constructing the green COBRAcable”, Vimeo)

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Dutch communication pilot project for aFRR provision

25.02.2020

The significant growth in decentralised energy generation is noticeably changing the European energy landscape. Consumers are also playing an increasingly active role by generating their own electricity as prosumers. The electricity system is thus changing from a demand-oriented system with centralised generation to a more supply-oriented system with decentralised generation. Maintaining the balance of the future transmission system is thus a major concern of European transmission system operators (TSOs), which could be supported by new players serving the ancillary services market as balancing services providers (BSPs). However, product specifications stand for a barrier to new entrants, for example in the field of data communications.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, is already researching suitable balancing solutions in several projects. TenneT is now also investigating the possibility of allowing decentralised, sustainable electrical energy to participate in the Dutch market for automatic Frequency Restoration Reserve (aFRR). The aFRR delivery requires a real-time data connection. Until now, the only secure and reliable option has been the leased line. This is not a problem for large production units, while for new BSPs the purchase of a leased line is a major barrier to entering the aFRR market.

This is where the aFRR pilot project comes in: For the first time, a new type of data connection was successfully used, whereby the data communication between the market participants and TenneT (for activation and measurements) was realised via TenneT’s mobile network. This removed a major obstacle to the provision of aFRR by (new) BSPs and enabled grid balancing by means of horticulturists, electric boilers and car batteries. TenneT will monitor and evaluate the performance of its mobile network in the coming months. If this is successful, the TSO will make the data connection available as soon as possible to all BSPs interested in using it to supply aFRR.

Tomatoes from Dutch greenhouses keeping the grid in balance – TenneT carries out a pilot project to improve data communication for aFRR supply

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