Increase in North Sea capacities


In terms of the “wind harvest” in the German control area of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, 2018 has been yet another record-breaking year. The result in 2018 exceeded the previous year’s figure by 4.9 percent. The wind energy transmitted from the North Sea by the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) amounted to 16.75TWh in 2018 – a new record. This was made possible by a total transmission capacity of 6,232MW provided by altogether eleven offshore connection systems, which have by now been connected to the onshore grid by TenneT.

That is more than in line with the German political targets. “With this, TenneT has now almost entirely achieved the federal government’s expansion goal of having 6,500MW of offshore wind capacity by 2020,” comments TenneT Managing Director Wilfried Breuer. And what’s more: “Already this year, TenneT will exceed this goal since the completion of BorWin3 in the course of 2019 will put a total of 7,132MW of transmission capacity into operation in the North Sea alone.”

In addition to the company’s infrastructural efforts, TenneT pursues numerous innovative technological approaches. A current example in the offshore sector is the planned 66kV technology, which will be used for the future TenneT offshore connections DolWin5 and BorWin5. 66kV technology can reduce investment and operational costs by millions as it supersedes offshore transformer platforms and significantly reduces the amount of cables required to connect individual turbine systems.

TenneT has increased its offshore transmission capacity from the German North Sea (picture: TenneT)

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Coupling of renewables and PtG for climate targets


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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Successful test for the Combined Grid Solution


The Combined Grid Solution is a joint offshore connection project by the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and the Danish TSO Energinet. The binational interconnector in the Baltic Sea will integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany by linking the German wind farm Baltic 2 to the Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak. The utilisation of grid connections from offshore wind farms to couple the transmission grids of two countries is nothing less than a world premiere.

The laying of the two submarine cables “150kV-line KFE-BaZ 155“ and “150kV-line KFE-BaZ 156“ was completed at the beginning of July and the two TSOs have now successfully conducted 24-hour testing of both cables. Around noon on 6 November and in the afternoon thereafter, the two cables were energised one after the other up to the disconnector on the offshore substation OSS KFE and now are ready to transport electricity. Sebastian Wagner, Sub-Project Manager Sea cables at 50Hertz, and Energinet’s Project Manager Daniel Johan Brøndum jointly declared: “Everyone in the team worked closely together and delivered to-the-point. We are very happy and celebrate this success together.”

The submarine cables for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution of 50Hertz and Energinet were successfully tested (illustration based on pictures of 50Hertz / Sebastian Wagner)

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First TenneT Offshore Conference


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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First partial feed-in from Arkona wind farm


The Arkona offshore project in the south-eastern part of the “Westlich Adlergrund” wind farm cluster in the Baltic Sea near the German Island of Rügen is in the final stage of construction. In April 2018, the platform topside for the Arkona windfarm was mounted on the platform jackets. In the following months, the topside was further equipped, tested and prepared for operation. Also the corresponding grid connection, Ostwind 1, has made great progress and has now been partially implemented by TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs).

After its completion, Ostwind 1 will transmit the converted electricity from the wind turbines via a 220kV submarine cable to the Lubmin onshore transformer station in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. With the realisation of the first partial feed from Arkona during the construction phase of Ostwind 1, the development of the entire connection project is fully on schedule. Currently, 50Hertz is carrying out the remaining work along the cable route to the Arkona platform by laying another submarine cable.

With the first partial feed-in of electricity from the Arkona wind farm, 50Hertz is further advancing the Ostwind 1 offshore connection (picture: Equinor)

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BorWin gamma embarks on its journey to the North Sea


From Dubai around the Arabian Peninsula, through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, past Gibraltar into the Atlantic Ocean and from there further north into the western German Bight of the North Sea – it is truly a long journey that the 18,000-ton topside of the offshore converter platform BorWin gamma has embarked on. BorWin gamma is a core component of the offshore grid connection BorWin3, a 900MW connection for two offshore wind farms to be implemented by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO).

Almost exactly three years ago, the construction of the platform began in Dubai, where 10,500t of steel were used – more than for the Eiffel Tower – and 880km of cable were laid inside. Now, 13.5m working hours later, BorWin Gamma is ready for transport and will then be installed on the substructure, the so-called jacket, which was already erected in May. The platform will convert the electricity from the wind turbines into DC in order to bring it to land with as little loss as possible. BorWin gamma is connected via 160km of cable (of which 130km are undersea and 30km underground) to the Emden/Ost onshore converter station in the German state of Lower Saxony. There, the electricity is converted back into AC and fed into the extra-high voltage grid. BorWin3 will go into operation next year and then be able to supply more than 1 million households.

The offshore converter platform BorWin gamma for the BorWin3 connection by the Dutch-German TSO TenneT is ready for transport from Dubai to the North Sea (picture: TenneT)

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First Borssele jacket ready for shipping


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


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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Combined Grid Solution: submarine cable installed


In early May, all of the three offshore platforms for the planned Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak in the Baltic Sea were successfully installed. One of them will not only collect wind power, but also function as linking point for the Combined Grid Solution, the first Danish-German offshore interconnector. The Combined Grid Solution is a joint venture of two TSCNET shareholders, 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and the Danish TSO Energinet.

Just two months later, 50Hertz announces that the next significant step for the project has been taken. The Combined Grid Solution will integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany by linking the German wind farm Baltic 2 with 25 kilometres of submarine cables to Kriegers Flak. Now both cables of the interconnector have been laid out completely. The Baltic 2 platform was the starting point for the cable laying, and on 5 July, the Kriegers Flak platform was reached.

Elke Kwapis, project manager at 50Hertz, acknowledges the good cooperation with Energinet in this process and states: “These are great news. In the business everybody knows how complex the installation of submarine cables can become.” Especially in this case, it was even more challenging than usual, because the Baltic 2 platform was constantly in operation during the cable laying.

The submarine cables for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution of the TSOs 50Hertz and Energinet have been laid out. Picture: Screenshot taken from video “Combined Grid Solution (CGS) by 50Hertz and Energinet“ (50Hertz, YouTube)

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CGS onshore transformers on site


The Bentwisch substation near the city of Rostock in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania is the future onshore converter station for the Combined Grid Solution, the first Danish-German offshore interconnector. The project is a joint venture of two TSCNET shareholders: 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and Energinet, the Danish TSO. The Combined Grid solution integrates the electricity markets of Denmark and Germany by linking the Danish Kriegers Flak wind farm with its German counterpart, Baltic 2. Now another significant step for the interconnector has been taken, as two transformers have been supplied to Bentwisch.

In combination with a double converter system, the large-scale equipment is essential for balancing the asynchronous transmission systems of Germany and Denmark. The transformers were transported from Rostock harbour to the substation per heavy-duty road transport. The second arrived in Bentwisch on the night of 29 to 30 May, and the first three weeks before. “We have thus reached another milestone on the way to commissioning the Combined Grid Solution. The transformers are the most important technical components for the back-to-back system on site,” comments Martin Henschel, specialist engineer at the 50Hertz Northern Regional Centre.

> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)

Picture: visavis Filmproduktion GmbH

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