Amprion: “Smart Valve” for flexible power flow control

05.08.2020

To maintain the stability of the transmission grid despite the current increase in decentralised and volatile generation, the German transmission system operator (TSO) Amprion – like many other TSCNET shareholders – is already using a wide range of innovative technologies, for instance Phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) or reactive power compensation systems such as Statcom. A promising pilot project has now additionally been launched, for which Amprion has signed a cooperation agreement with the US Silicon Valley company, Smart Wires. In the three-phase project, the mobile modular static-synchronous series compensator (mSSSC) developed by Smart Wires, the so called SmartValve, will be deployed in the Amprion grid.

The aim of the project is both to increase the transmission capacity of Amprion’s transmission grid and to maintain its high level of system stability. SmartValve is designed for a more balanced and thus more efficient use of power lines. By actively changing the power flows, it enables better control of the transmission system and minimises redispatch. Due to its modular structure, SmartValve is easy to transport and can be operated flexibly at different locations. This distinguishes the new technology from conventional PSTs, for example, making it an ideal complement to support the system from a stability perspective.

Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, refers in this context to the significantly increased costs for redispatch in Germany in recent years due to the changes in the energy landscape. This is where the SmartValve project comes in: “We see this innovative technology as having the potential to allow us to use the network more efficiently and reduce the need for redispatch.” The two partners expect the project to span two to three years to verify the added value of the new technology in the Amprion grid.

Amprion and Smart Wires launched a pilot project to implement the SmartValve solution in the transmission grid (picture: Smart Wires)

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€30m for substation upgrade in Lower Austria

19.05.2020

The grid infrastructure of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO), must comply with the changes in the power system. The APG projects in this regard are essential for the success of the energy transition and indispensable for Austria’s secure future electricity supply. One example of this is the modernisation of the Ternitz substation in Neunkirchen in Lower Austria, which was built in 1965. With its reconstruction, the TSO significantly improves the power supply of the industrial district south of Vienna, Upper Styria and the Mürztal valley in north-eastern Styria. In addition, a new phase-shifting transformer (PST) will increase failure safety for all of Austria and facilitate the smart integration of green electricity such as wind power from the Weinviertel region into the APG grid. All in all, the TSO is investing €30m in the substation upgrade.

The Ternitz substation is an important hub in APG’s supraregional power grid. Its infrastructural significance is emphasised by the new 220/110kV transformer, which will be one of three such PSTs in Austria. In the 220kV grid, it regulates the flow of electricity on the power lines in north-south direction and distributes it evenly to assure full electricity supply for the region and for all of Austria. To maintain reliability also during the time of the reconstruction, APG will be keeping the substation in operation with numerous temporary measures. Construction was originally scheduled to be concluded in December 2020, but due to the corona pandemic, completion is expected to be delayed by about three months and is now scheduled for March 2021.

Since mid-April, about 50 APG construction projects that were suspended after the Covid outbreak have been gradually resumed in compliance with the necessary distance and hygiene requirements. APG is thus living up to its responsibility not only towards the energy industry, but also as a driving force for the Austrian economy as a whole. In 2020, the investment volume of all APG construction projects in the areas of grid extension, renovation and maintenance projects will total €350m.

APG is investing €30m in the upgrade of the Ternitz substation in Lower Austria (picture: Christoph Breneis / APG)

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Amprion develops rotating asynchronous phase shifter

27.03.2020

When conventional power generation declines, additional technical measures are needed to ensure the stability of the electricity grids. The energy transition in Germany is prompting the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) to take compensatory measures to keep the grid voltage at the required level. An essential factor in maintaining voltage is reactive power, and TSOs respond to changes in the energy landscape by installing reactive power systems to compensate for the loss of reactive power previously provided by conventional power plants. Reactive power is particularly required for the AC transmission of large amounts of energy over long distances. This is likely to be a common practice in the energy future of Germany.

The German TSO Amprion and Siemens Energy plan to develop and install the world’s first rotating asynchronous phase shifter with a high output of approx. 300MVA. The innovative device is called ARESS: Asynchronous Rotating Energy System Stabilizer. It represents a new and fully integrated technology. In contrast to synchronous phase shifters, ARESS supplies far more rotation energy, especially when providing momentary reserve, and also over a longer period of time. The extremely responsive and powerful electrical equipment thus significantly contributes to frequency stability. ARESS is intended to complement and further develop the Statcom (static synchronous compensator) systems and synchronous phase shifters that are currently in use.

The ARESS project was launched on 26 March with the signing of an agreement by Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO of Amprion, and Dr. Jochen Eickholt, managing director and designated executive board member of Siemens Energy. Due to the Corona pandemic, the documents were signed via video conference. The technology partners are convinced that the ARESS technology can be designed much more cost-effectively and compactly than combinations of available technologies in the same scope of application. Amprion and Siemens Energy expect the project to run for four years until the pilot system can be put into operation.

Amprion and Siemens Energy are developing the rotating asynchronous phase shifter ARESS to provide reactive power (exemplary image of a rotating phase shifter: Siemens)

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Germany’s first hybrid Statcom facility in operation

27.01.2020

Since January 24, Germany’s first hybrid static synchronous compensator (Statcom) system is connected to the power grid. For about two years, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has been modernising its long-established substation in Borken, in the German state of Hesse, practically at the centre of the German transmission system. The heart of the conversion work was the installation of the Statcom system. Due to the limited space available at the site, TenneT decided to build the Statcom system in hybrid construction, thus reducing the additional space requirement to less than one hectare.

With the high-performance technology in operation, TenneT uses the historic substation in Borken, which boasts a tradition of almost a hundred years, for a task that will contribute significantly to the success of the energy transition: the provision of dynamic voltage support and reactive power to compensate for the decreasing capacities previously provided by large power plants that are being successively shut down. The TSO invested around €30m in the Borken substation, that now has become one of the most modern hubs for green power in the German grid.

Last Friday, Axel Schomberg, Head of TenneT Grid Operations, together with high representatives of local politics, officially commissioned the Statcom system, underlining the significance of the facility for the energy transition. In combination with the numerous other reactive power compensation systems operated in the 129 German TenneT substations, including compensation coils, MSCDN systems and the first rotating phase shifter in the German power grid at the time of installation, the Statcom system contributes to the static reactive power supply.

TenneT has commissioned Germany’s first hybrid Statcom system (picture: TenneT)

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Study on German-Polish TSO cooperation

16.01.2020

The two transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz from Germany and PSE from Poland jointly conducted the “German-Polish Study on cooperation between TSOs PSE and 50Hertz in long-term and mid-term perspectives”, which now has been finalised. The study was supported by the respective national Ministries responsible for energy.

As its title suggests, the study is divided into an investigation of medium-term and long-term cooperation objectives. The mid-term part aims at improving the coordination of the operational planning processes. The following issues, among others, have been identified as important: improving the quality of forecasting of power flows at the German-Polish border and the coordinated use of cross-border remedial measures such as phase-shifting transformers as well as bilateral and multilateral redispatch. To better predict cross-border flows, PSE and 50 Hertz agreed to support the development of a flow-based methodology, and as far as the remedial measures are concerned, advanced software solutions are required. However, not only the development of an IT tool is needed here, but also advanced coordination and cost sharing in a region-wide mechanism.

For the long-term study, a modelling process carried out by the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Warsaw was used, which was consulted and monitored by experts from both TSOs. Using alternative scenarios, different time frames and market simulations, the main trends in German-Polish electricity exchange as well as future challenges for regional markets and networks were identified, such as interconnector capacities, growth of energy demands or deviating energy prices.

50Hertz and PSE have conducted a joint study on German-Polish TSO cooperation (picture: Andreas Vogel / CC BY-SA 4.0)

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New Amprion phase shifter in operation

06.11.2019

The German transmission system operators (TSOs) have to react with innovative technology to the changes in the German energy landscape caused by the shutdown of nuclear and other large power plants in the course of the energy transition. An important issue is the loss of reactive power, and an appropriate technological response are rotating phase shifters, which are highly efficient and flexible in the provision of reactive power to maintain voltage.

TSCNET shareholder Amprion has now commissioned such a high-performance system at its Illingen-Uchtelfangen substation in the German federal state of Saarland. It is the second rotating phase shifter in the Amprion grid after the TSO commissioned the first one in September 2018 in Oberottmarshausen (Bavarian Swabia). Amprion has invested €60m in the new state-of-the-art equipment, which keeps the transmission grid stable and thus further increases supply security in Saarland.

The commissioning ceremony was attended by Anke Rehlinger, Saarland Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour, Energy and Transport. Together with Amprion Managing Director Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, General Manager of GE Grid Solutions Gerhard Seyrling and representatives of district and municipal politics, she pressed the “red button”, which symbolically put the facility into operation. Mrs Rehlinger commented on the new device: “Against the backdrop of the energy transition, grid stability and security of supply are becoming increasingly important. With the installation of the rotating phase shifter, Amprion is making an important contribution to the future of power transmission grids.”

Amprion has commissioned a new rotating phase shifter at the Illingen-Uchtelfangen substation (picture: Amprion;  Amprion CTO Klaus Kleinekorte and Saarland Minister Anke Rehlinger in the middle)

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50Hertz to improve grid utilisation

29.08.2019

To respond to current and future transmission system requirements, operators can either expand the grid or optimise its utilisation – ideally, they do both. TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is also facing up to the challenges arising from the higher capacity load on the existing grid. The TSO presented its innovative assets and concepts at the System Security Conference (“Systemsicherheitskonferenz”), which is held every two years by 50Hertz.

This year’s conference on 28 August, the 11th edition, attracted almost 150 participants from the energy industry, science, politics and administration to the Berlin headquarters of 50Hertz, where they were welcomed by 50Hertz CEO Dr. Frank Golletz, who also plays the role of the company’s CTO. Golletz explained how the TSO tackles the technical challenges using previously uncommon technologies such as static compensators (STATCOM), series compensations, back-to-back converters or static and rotary phase shifters. “With these assets, our grid becomes a highly dynamic grid in which the power flow is actively controlled,” commented Golletz.

In addition, Golletz argued that, alongside to the indispensable technical innovations, the rules on the energy market should also be continuously further developed. It is important to set the right incentives for all market participants so that the electricity market not only functions from a business point of view, but also keeps an eye on the entire economy.

50Hertz has held its 11th System Security Conference in Berlin, Germany (picture of headquarters: 50Hertz)

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50Hertz plans to invest some €3.4bn

26.02.2019

Northeast Germany – and thus the control area of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) – continues to be a pioneer in the integration of renewable energies in Central Europe. For the second year in a row, renewables accounted for more than half of electricity consumption, and once more a new record was set with a regenerative share of 56.5% (2017: 53.4%). The installed capacity of renewables rose to 32.9GW, which is why Boris Schucht, CEO of 50Hertz, had every reason to express his contentment with this development during the 50Hertz balance sheet press conference on 26 February 2019 in the German capital of Berlin: “We are proud that with this record share of renewables, we can contribute to a successful energy transition.” Since this share will increase continuously in the 50Hertz control area, the federal growth target of 65% for 2030 can be achieved as early as 2021.

At the same time, the costs for congestion management, mainly caused by redispatch, fell significantly last year, by an impressive €100m to around €105m. This is due in particular to the effect of the extra-high voltage line “Südwest-Kuppelleitung” (aka “Thuringian Power Bridge”) and two now fully operational phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) on the borders with Poland and the Czech Republic respectively. But also in the future, the expansion of the transmission infrastructure must keep pace with that of the renewables. 50Hertz is taking this into account with exceptionally high investments in the transformation of the energy system. These are facilitated by the TSO’s excellent operating results. Over the past five years, 50Hertz has already invested over €3bn in the grid (€492m in 2018). By 2023, 50Hertz plans to spend a further €3.4bn (€420m in 2019).

Among the outstanding infrastructure projects are the “Ostwind 1” offshore connection, which has been in trial operation since last year, and the “Combined Grid Solution”, a Danish-German interconnector in the Baltic Sea that links the German “Baltic 2” wind farm with the Danish “Kriegers Flak” farm and will be connected to the grid in 2019. The supra-regional DC project “SuedOstLink” is making significant progress, too, as the federal sector planning is underway and the European tender for the underground cables has been launched. 50Hertz CTO Dr. Frank Golletz, who will take over the function of Boris Schucht as interim CEO from 1 March 2019, announced the continuation of the TSO’s ambitious investment program. Golletz also pointed out that the political and regulatory framework must be optimised and made innovation-friendly to realise the energy transition.

50Hertz presents excellent results for 2018 and announces further sustainable investments in its transmission grid (illustration using pictures of 50Hertz)

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Transformer for TenneT’s hybrid Statcom facility

01.01.2019

Right on time for Christmas 2018, a heavy-duty train loaded with a 299-tonne transformer built by ABB reached the Borken substation operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). Here at the long-established substation site in Borken in the German state of Hesse, practically in the middle of the German power system, the TSO is currently building the first German hybrid static synchronous compensator system (Statcom). In order to efficiently connect the Statcom system, which will later be operated at 40kV, to the existing extra-high voltage grid, a so-called impedance matching transformer is required.

The hybrid Statcom facility will provide reactive power as compensation for the declining capacities previously provided by large power plants, which are now being successively taken off the grid in the course of the energy transition. In the three-phase transmission system, the reactive power must be in balance with the active power in order to maintain the grid’s voltage at the required level. That is why reactive power compensation is a priority task for the German TSOs.

On the morning of 8 January 2019, the foundations of the transformer will be laid in front of the Statcom plant which is currently under construction. It will then take around three months before the matching transformer is operational. The entire Statcom system is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2019. In Borken, TenneT is investing around €30m in future-proof grid operation. Germany’s first hybrid Statcom system will then not only contribute to dynamic voltage stabilisation, but the entire Borken substation will also become one of the most modern hubs for green power in the TenneT grid.

TenneT has been supplied with a matching HDVC transformer for its hybrid Statcom facility at the Borken substation (picture: ABB)

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Commissioning of phase-shifter at Amprion substation

12.09.2018

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs) must react sustainably and future-oriented to the changes in the German energy landscape caused by the shutdown of nuclear and other large-scale power plants in the course of the energy transition. A major issue in this respect is the loss of reactive power and an appropriate technological response is provided by phase-shifters. Rotating phase-shifters are highly efficient and flexible reactive power systems for voltage maintenance to compensate the declining reactive power capacities from large plants.

For this reason, TSCNET shareholder Amprion has equipped its Oberottmarshausen substation with a new controllable rotating phase-shifter and the associated transformer. The substation near Augsburg is an important interface between the transnational 380kV grid and the regional grids. Amprion has been modernising the facility since 2016, and the new, state-of-the-art equipment is the centrepiece of the upgraded substation. The work was carried out in stages during ongoing operation and will be completed this year. Amprion is investing a total of around €65m in the expansion and modernisation of Oberottmarshausen.

On 11 September, Dr. Ulrike Wolf, Deputy Head of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology, Ralf Christian, CEO Division Energy Management at Siemens, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, jointly pressed the symbolic button for the official commissioning of the phase-shifter. Mr Kleinekorte explains the importance of the phase-shifter, that enables Amprion to precisely regulate the voltage in its own transmission system as well as in the subordinate distribution grids. “Voltage maintenance is an important element of grid stability, which we continue to guarantee for the citizens and the economy of Bavarian Swabia and in our entire network area.”

From left to right: Ralf Christian, CEO Division Energy Management at Siemens, MDirig. Dr. Ulrike Wolf, Deputy Head of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion (picture: Amprion)

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