European wind energy record shares in 2019

14.01.2020

Not much time has passed in the new year, but the German-based International Economic Forum for Renewable Energies (Internationales Wirtschaftsforum Regenerative Energien/IWR) has already evaluated the electricity data for 2019 provided by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) on behalf of the member transmission system operators (TSOs). According to the IWR, the total share of all renewable energies in the energy mix has continued to rise. Wind and solar power generation reached new all-time highs (almost 510TWh), while electricity production from hydropower remained comparatively low due to the long dry phase in 2019.

In the EU, wind energy was the most important regenerative energy source in 2019 with around 392TWh (2018: 349TWh). The statistical analysis of the IWR coincides with the figures which the Dutch-German TSO TenneT has just published for the feed-in of electricity from German North Sea wind farms. The TSCNET shareholder in 2019 has increased the offshore wind energy connection capacity of its twelve German offshore grid connection systems currently in operation to 7,132MW. For one thing, this means that the “wind harvest” record figures exceed the previous year by around 21%. Secondly, the TSO has already now achieved and even significantly exceeded the German federal government’s targets for the sustainable expansion of offshore wind energy. The government’s target for the North Sea and Baltic Sea together by 2020 is 6.5GW in total.

Expressed in absolute figures, the wind energy transmitted by TenneT from the North Sea reached a new record of 20.21TWh in 2019 (16.75TWh in 2018). TenneT managing director Tim Meyerjürgens comments on the progress: “We are pleased that we have already achieved the goal set by the federal government ahead of schedule and with the three other offshore grid connections currently being implemented, we will be capable of delivering 10,000MW of transmission capacity from the North Sea in 2025 in Germany alone.”

European figures for wind energy in 2019 are at a record high, as is the German offshore grid connection capacity of TenneT

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TenneT participates in Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition

13.01.2020

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT is continuously increasing the amount of sea-generated wind energy transmitted ashore. The TSCNET shareholder is also the initiator of the pioneering North Sea Wind Power Hub concept that combines generation, storage and transmission of wind energy with a multinational interconnection of North Sea riparian states. Now TenneT is also participating in the just founded international Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition to promote the sustainable use of marine renewable energy and reduce the harmful effects of climate change.

Not only wind power but also floating solar, tidal and wave power count among the maritime renewable energy potentials. According to a report by the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, together they could provide almost 10% of the annual greenhouse gas emission reductions needed by 2050 to keep global temperatures below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. However, offshore wind energy is likely to make up the largest part of this climate protection potential.

The Action Coalition was established in response to the High-Level Panel’s September 2019 call for ocean-related climate protection activities and brings together civil society, intergovernmental institutions and industry. It will represent the offshore wind sector in the global dialogue on climate change and be led by the Scandinavian power companies Ørsted and Equinor. The total of eleven partners will develop a vision for 2050, highlighting the actions to be taken to sustainably expand offshore wind energy, thereby contributing to the UN’s sustainable development goals and global decarbonisation targets. First results will be announced at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in June 2020.

TenneT is part of the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition to promote the sustainable use of renewable marine energy (picture: TenneT)

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New 50Hertz CEO takes up duties

03.12.2019

On 1 December, Stefan Kapferer took office as the new chairman of the executive board of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Until the end of October 2019, Kapferer headed the German Energy and Water Association (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft – BDEW). Kapferer succeeds interim CEO Dr. Frank Golletz, CTO of 50Hertz, who took over the additional duties after former CEO Boris Schucht had left the company in March 2019.

At a purpose-arranged press conference on 3 December in the German capital Berlin, Stefan Kapferer acknowledged the appeal and diversity of his new task. “The next phase of the realisation of the energy transition is an even greater challenge in terms of entrepreneurship and the European side of things. TSOs play an essential role here,” explained Kapferer. The main issues to be dealt with by 50Hertz are the German coal phase-out, following the current nuclear phase-out, the national legislative climate specifications and the grid extension which is essential for all these measures. For a Baltic Sea riparian TSO, it is particularly important to set the right course for the development of offshore wind energy.

Chris Peeters, head of the 50Hertz supervisory board, highlighted Kapferer’s wealth of political and international experience as former German State Secretary and Deputy Secretary General of the OECD and concluded: “I am convinced that Kapferer’s skills combined with the technical know-how of our staff will result in a great future for 50Hertz. Together we work for our goal: a successful energy transition.”

Stefan Kapferer is in office as new CEO of 50Hertz (picture: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls)

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PROMOTioN for a North Sea transmission grid

08.11.2019

“PROgress on Meshed HVDC Offshore Transmission Networks” is a very precise project description but also a bit lengthy. In contrast, the dynamic acronym “PROMOTioN” refers quite well to the ambitions that the consortium members contribute to the research project. General goal of PROMOTioN is the further development of innovative technologies relevant for the deployment of meshed offshore HVDC nets. The more specific objective is to improve cooperation between grid operators and major suppliers of technical architecture and interoperable technologies to accelerate offshore HVDC grid development. PROMOTioN is the largest energy project funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme, with a consortium of 33 partners from 11 countries, including the two TSCNET shareholders Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO.

A report by PROMOTioN has just been published (“Regulatory and financing principles for a meshed HVDC offshore grid”) summarising the principal findings for the design of a legal, regulatory and financial framework for cross-border HVDC offshore connections. The report provides recommendations for policy-makers and other stakeholders for overcoming regulatory and financial obstacles to the realisation of a North Sea transmission system. The key conclusion of the report and of the whole project is that the North Sea riparian states need to establish a harmonised legal and economic framework to fully exploit the potential of a meshed offshore grid in the North Sea.

A distinction is made between short-term and long-term recommendations, each of which is presented very concisely. Short term recommendations include the improvement of governance and regulation of the internal market for (offshore) electricity, optimisation of innovation financing, support for early communication of all parties involved and the formalisation of cross-border cost allocation (CBCA) as a binding contract. The latter aspect is regarded as one of the most important pillars in the economic framework. The most significant long-term recommendation is that EU member states, third countries and the EU should consider adopting a North Sea Treaty containing the objectives and principles of the offshore grid.

Tim Meyerjürgens, COO at TenneT, comments on the PROMOTioN project: “The development of a cross-border HVDC grid is one of the most promising opportunities for a sustainable energy future in Europe. TenneT is cooperating closely with other TSOs to develop the idea of a meshed and efficient offshore grid in the North Sea, which requires the creation of a common regulatory framework. PROMOTioN’s research shows the way to make this happen.”

The PROMOTioN project provides a framework for cross-border HVDC offshore connections (picture: TenneT)

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Construction start of DolWin 6 converter station

24.10.2019

The so-called DolWin wind farm cluster in the southwestern part of the German Bight is an important component of Germany’s future regenerative energy supply. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is responsible for transferring the DolWin energy ashore. The DolWin1 and 2 onshore connections are in operation since 2015 and 2016 respectively, and DolWin 3 is ready for feed-in since September 2018. The other ongoing projects, DolWin 5 and 6, are also making good progress.

DolWin6 is a 900MW DC connection with a length of 90km. The associated offshore platform to convert the three-phase current generated by the wind farms into DC is DolWin kappa. Half of the 90km distance is covered by submarine cables and the other half by underground cables to transport the electricity from the landing site in Hilgenriedersiel to the TenneT facilities in Emden in the Lower Saxony region of East Frisia.

On the grounds of the Emden/Ost substation, the TSO is building a converter station and a transformer station to convert the DC back into three-phase current and feed it into the onshore grid. The first construction phase of the DolWin6 onshore converter station has now begun with the foundation work. In the next 6 months, 1000 piles with a length of up to 24 meters will be drilled into the ground to create a stable foundation for the station.

TenneT begins construction of the DolWin6 onshore converter station (pictures: TenneT)

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€215m for green connection capacity

11.10.2019

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT plans to invest a further €215m to connect two GW of green electricity from solar and wind farms in the north of the Netherlands to the grid. The infrastructural measures include the construction of two new 380/110kV high-voltage substations in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe. In addition, the TSCNET shareholder intends to provide extra capacity at nine existing 110kV substations in the northern Netherlands.

One GW corresponds roughly to the output of 3.5 million solar modules or 200 wind turbines. The additional capacity planned by the TSO is therefore considerable, but according to Ben Voorhorst, COO of the TSO, as many solar and wind farm transmission requests as possible should be complied with. Already now TenneT operates projects in the northern Netherlands with a volume of more than €1bn. This level of investment is now being further increased, with the TSO focusing strongly on the sustainability and efficiency of the investments. “The better the capacity expansions of electricity grids are actually utilised, the better the consumer’s money is spent,” explains Voorhorst.

TenneT invests €215m in the connection of renewable energies in the northern Netherlands (picture: TenneT)

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Borssele Alpha ready to operate

05.09.2019

Just one month ago, TSCNET shareholder TenneT fully implemented BorWin3 in the German Bight, the twelfth offshore grid connection project of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). Now there is once again good news for the energy transition, this time from the Dutch North Sea: Borssele Alpha, TenneT’s first and largest connection system for wind farms in Dutch territorial waters, is ready for operation – right on schedule and within budget. From 2020 on, Borssele Alpha will supply the green electricity from the offshore wind farms Borssele I and II ashore.

The two Borssele wind farms will have a capacity of around 700MW. The Borssele Alpha grid connection will transmit the electricity to the substation near the town of Borssele in the Dutch province of Zeeland, where TenneT has built a new transformer station next to the existing station. The Borssele grid connection is TenneT’s first Dutch major project under the National Energy Agreement for offshore wind farms and fully complies with the conditions set out in the Dutch government’s Offshore Wind Energy Development Framework.

According to the Energy Agreement, TenneT will have installed 3,500MW of grid connections for offshore wind farms by the end of 2023. The next project is Borssele Beta, followed by Hollandse Kust (zuid) Alpha and Beta and Hollandse Kust (noord). TenneT’s standardised procedure for offshore connections will make it possible to complete these projects more efficiently, quickly and economically. In line with the Dutch Follow-up Roadmap for Offshore Wind Energy, a further 6,100MW of offshore wind energy will be realised between 2024 and 2030.

The Borssele Alpha offshore grid connection of TenneT is operational (picture: Screenshot taken from the Borssele video)

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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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BorWin3 in operation

12.08.2019

The offshore grid connection BorWin3 operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT in the German Bight is ready for feed-in since early August. This means that the total transmission capacity for offshore wind farms in the German North Sea is already 7.132GW. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has thus not only met the German government’s expansion targets for sustainable North Sea wind power – 6.5GW by 2020 – but has significantly exceeded them.

BorWin3, TenneT’s twelfth offshore grid connection project, brings a further 900MW capacity. After BorWin1 and BorWin2, it is the third connection that the TSO has implemented near the East Frisian island of Borkum using DC technology. The corresponding converter and transformer station were built at TenneT’s Emden/Ost site to feed the green energy into the onshore extra-high voltage grid. BorWin3 bridges a total distance of 160km. The submarine cable is 130km long and the last section ashore to Emden/Ost is completed by underground cabling.

The TSO can be satisfied with its own offshore progress, but TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens calls for further efforts, as the current rate of offshore wind expansion in Europe is not sufficient to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. “An accelerated, large-scale and internationally coordinated expansion is necessary,” explains Meyerjürgens. In this context, TenneT has just presented a feasibility study of the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept for the implementation of wind power distribution hubs in the North Sea. Meyerjürgens points out that with an internationally coordinated approach the connection and integration of large offshore wind energy capacities could be much more effective and cost-efficient than with continued individual national planning.

In early August, the offshore grid connection BorWin3 of TenneT was put into operation (picture of the offshore converter platform BorWin gamma: TenneT)

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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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