Royal interest in the Wind Power Hub

07.03.2019

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)

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

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Coupling of renewables and PtG for climate targets

11.12.2018

In order to achieve ambitious climate targets, a rapid expansion of renewable energy generation is essential. The German market still has great offshore potential in this respect. However, regenerative expansion makes no sense if the corresponding transport or storage capacities are lacking. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is already known for its sustained efforts to significantly expand the transmission infrastructure in its control area as environmentally friendly as possible. But the TSO is also very active in the development of storage concepts, just consider, for example, the storage potential of the North Sea Wind Power Hub project or the “ELEMENT ONE” power-to-gas (PtG) pilot plant.

Together with Siemens and Shell, both global players in their respective fields, Tennet is now making additional efforts to promote the renewables as well as PtG. The three companies are convinced that green hydrogen will play a decisive role in the future energy mix as the basis for many power-to-X applications, which are technologies for storage and other uses of surplus electricity. TenneT, Siemens and Shell have thus commissioned a study on a new type of tender model for offshore wind capacity. This model intends to link the awarding of contracts for the operation of offshore plants to the production of hydrogen: The additional wind power from such facilities should not put too much strain on the onshore grid, but rather be used to generate hydrogen and even stablise the electricity grid. The green hydrogen can be transported via the gas grid and then be used in other sectors, such as industry or mobility.

Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, is determined to not squander any potential for renewable energies and convinced that PtG technologies provide flexibility, reduce the strain on the grid and make power supply more secure. “In the long term,” Mr Hartman continues, “the combination with hydrogen production can also be applied throughout Germany to other renewable energies. This advances the energy transition and helps to achieve our climate targets.”

TenneT, in cooperation with Siemens and Shell, proposes to couple offshore wind capacity tenders with PtG storage technologies (copyright photo composition by Stadtwerke Mainz)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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First TenneT Offshore Conference

07.11.2018

The EUREF Campus is the sustainability city quarter of the German capital Berlin with a climate-neutral energy supply and hence the ideal location for the first Offshore Conference of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, which took place on 6 November 2018. Headlined “Land in Sight – The Future of Offshore”, 170 decision-makers from politics, business and the media accepted the invitation of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) and took part in information panels, lectures and panel discussions. TenneT experts provided far-reaching insights into current pilot projects, information on ongoing studies, cooperations and concepts for future digital smart grid management.

“Offshore is a success story,” was how TenneT CEO Manon van Beek summed up the development to date. “Our conviction is that the second, decisive phase of the energy transition – the integration of 60, 70, 80% renewables and more – will only be successful if we address the issues in a bundled way.” This requires next to infrastructural improvements technical innovations, digitalisation, flexibility and the coupling of sectors.” Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, described the range of the TSO’s future-oriented approach: “From electric vehicles, blockchain storage and power-to-gas projects to the introduction of acceptability increasing underground cable technologies.” Wilfried Breuer, Managing Director TenneT Offshore, highlighted the company’s success in offshore development: “In the German North Sea, TenneT currently operates eleven offshore grid connection systems with a total capacity of 6,232MW to transmit wind energy from sea to land. This means that already now TenneT is almost completely meeting the German Federal Government’s expansion target of 6,500MW of offshore wind capacity by 2020.”

A key element of the conference was the North Sea Wind Power Hub, a visionary interconnection system that combines the generation, storage and transmission of wind energy with a multinational connection of the transmission systems of the North Sea riparian states. Also on display was an electric car already equipped with bidirectionally functioning batteries. As part of a pilot project, these batteries, which can both store electricity and feed it back into the grid, are used for redispatch. But what turned out to be the somehow “secret star” of the event was “ANYmal”, a special robot that – due to its highly developed motion characteristics – in test runs is already independently performing maintenance and repair work in TenneT’s onshore and offshore facilities.

TenneT held its first Offshore Conference in Berlin, Germany, which was attended by a prominent audience (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Watch “ANYmal” demonstration videos on Twitter (html)

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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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> See TenneT press release (html)

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Cooperative study on Wind Power Hub

13.06.2018

“New approaches must be investigated to connect large scale offshore wind to the onshore grids,” says Mel Kroon, CEO of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). And TenneT certainly can not be accused of being inactive in this regard. For example, in order to support the integration of larger offshore wind volumes, the TSO is investigating the possibilities of an interconnected grid system, the North Sea Wind Power Hub. The hub concept combines wind energy production, storage and transmission with a multinational connection of the transmission systems of the North Sea riparian states.

To further expedite the development of the North Sea Wind Power Hub, TenneT and innogy, one of the world’s leading operators of offshore wind farms, have signed a Letter of Intent to jointly conduct a feasibility study on interconnectors within the North Sea Wind Power Hub system. The cooperation involves possible designs, economic rationale, as well as regulatory and market requirements for such a complex international infrastructure. Since both partner companies have a proven track record in offshore wind projects in the North Sea, the joint investigation can build on the collective knowledge and experience of previous studies and ventures.

Picture using an illustration of TenneT/innogy

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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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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TenneT reports on a prolific 2017

23.02.2018

With the Integrated Annual Report 2017 and the Green Finance Report 2017, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), yet again presents a combination of healthy financial results (22 percent boost in revenue, experiencing a jump from €3,227 million to €3,948 million) with an enduring commitment to the sustainable energy future and impressive investments (€736 million invested in the Netherlands, and €1,032 million in Germany) in the transmission system of the future. The company’s strategy for increasing the grid resilience while maintaining high supply security includes extension of the TSO’s onshore and offshore infrastructure, the development of a more flexible electricity system, and the introduction of intelligent software based on blockchain technology.

Prominent examples of TenneT’s forward-thinking actions in 2017 are two pilot projects in the Netherlands and Germany, which enable consumers to take part in the electricity market, as well as offshore systems for connecting wind farms to the onshore grid, or interconnectors such as the Dutch-Danish COBRACable and NordLink between Germany and Norway. The conception of an artificial island in the North Sea, the North Sea Wind Power Hub, to bundle wind power capacities and, moreover, to connect national markets, is perhaps TenneT’s most outstanding future vison in this regard. In 2017, TenneT was able to enlarge the Power Hub Consortium promisingly.

TenneT’s CEO Mel Kroon is profoundly pleased with the TSO’s business year and comments: “In 2017 we made good progress on realising our strategic priorities.” Mr. Kroon emphasises that the company succeeded in combining supply security with grid modernisation and expansion, but also pointed out the future tasks: “Now that modern society is increasingly dependent on electricity, the costs of renewable electricity decrease significantly and ‘green power’ is supplied by a wide range of sources at countless locations, we must shift to a new electricity system that can support this revolution.”

> See TenneT press release (html, with access to the reports)

Picture: TenneT

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TenneT explores offshore potentials

29.11.2017

In line with the expansion of the North Sea Wind Power Hub consortium, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has presented further possibilities to promote offshore wind power capacities in the North Sea and interconnect national electricity markets. TenneT’s objective is twofold. The TSO aims at fulfilling the European climate targets on the one hand and reducing energy costs for customers on the other.

To increase wind energy generation in the Dutch North Sea, wind farms being situated further offshore and high capacity DC connections are considered necessary. TenneT has investigated two options relating thereto: Offshore converter platforms to convert the AC produced by the wind farms into DC for the onshore transmission, or the construction of an artificial island instead of platforms. The latter option allows converter placement and maintennace on solid ground. An Island could also host port facilities or power-to-gas technologies and facilitate direct electricity market connections.

Such an interconnector would be the offshore grid infrastructure solution called WindConnector. Together with The Crown Estate, the British real estate business and seabed manager, TenneT commissioned a study on this ambitious project. Similar to the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept, the WindConnector serves two purposes: the transmission of wind-generated electricity, and the interconnection of markets, in this case referring to the Netherlands and Great Britain. Commenting on the study, TenneT’s CEO Mel Kroon explains: “Combining infrastructure for offshore wind energy with an interconnector greatly increases the utilisation rate, and with that reduces the cost of energy for consumers.”

> See TenneT press release on Dutch offshore solutions (html)
> See TenneT press release on WindConnector study (html)

Illustration: TenneT (computer simulation of an island hub)

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Port of Rotterdam joins power hub consortium

28.11.2017

The European climate and energy objectives are undoubtedly ambitious – nonetheless, the European transmission system operators (TSOs) are eager to fulfill their part in realising a sustainable low-carbon energy future. For this purpose, exceptional lighthouse projects are required, such as the North Sea Wind Power Hub. This visionary hub concept comprises the construction of one or more so-called Power Link Islands situated in shallow North Sea waters with ideal wind conditions. Connected to a large number of offshore wind facilities, such an island can facilitate the distribution and transmission of wind-generated electricity and also serve as interconnector between North Sea riparian states.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub was originally conceived by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. In March 2017, TenneT TSO B.V. (Netherlands) and TenneT TSO GmbH (Germany) were complemented by another TSCNET shareholder, Energinet from Denmark. The hub consortium was further expanded in September, when Dutch natural gas infrastructure and transmission company Gasunie joined, bringing its expertise in terms of power-to-gas technologies into the fold.

Now another important step for the success of North Sea Wind Power Hub is taken: The Port of Rotterdam has become the fifth member of the hub consortium. The Port of Rotterdam not only pursues a clear sustainability strategy, but also has pertinent knowledge in the field of seaward land reclamation. With respect to the island construction, the port’s specific experiences will prove to be very valuable for the hub project.

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

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Consortium for Wind Power Hub expanded

14.09.2017

Meeting the future demand for renewable electricity and achieving the EU’s offshore wind energy targets as well as the objectives of the Paris climate agreement – these are primary concerns for European transmission system operators (TSOs) such as Energinet from Denmark, TenneT TSO B.V. (Netherlands), and TenneT TSO GmbH (Germany). Earlier this year, the three TSC members have thus agreed to jointly explore and develop the North Sea Wind Power Hub, a large renewable electricity system in the North Sea. The TSOs also expressed their intention to expand the cooperation to a European multi-party consortium.

The basic idea of the visionary hub project is the construction of one or more so-called Power Link Islands in the shallow waters of the central North Sea. A large amount of offshore wind facilities is to be connected to such an island, that will serve as distributor and transmitter of sustainable energy, and above that as interconnector between the energy markets of the North Sea riparian states. Since power to gas technologies are destined to play an important part in the European energy landscape of the future, they are likewise an integral part of the North Sea Wind Power Hub – in terms of gas-based transmission and storage solutions.

Given this premise, it is very welcome indeed, that the Dutch natural gas infrastructure and transmission company Gasunie has joined the hub consortium. Gasunie will not only contribute its expertise regarding gas storage and transport, but also its technological experience in the handling and conversion of renewable gases such as hydrogen. Power-to-gas conversion techniques allow to store and transmit large quantities of wind-generated energy in the form of hydrogen. Storage on a Power Link Island would take place close to the offshore energy source, and from here, the energy could be transmitted through an existing gas infrastructure.

> See Energinet press release (html)
> See TenneT press release (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “North Sea Island TenneT” (TenneT, YouTube)

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