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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> Open press conference presentation, in German (pdf, 4.09MB)

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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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Phase-shifting transformers stand the test

29.08.2018

In Röhrsdorf in Saxony, Germany, the international conference “Controlling load flows. Strengthening European electricity trading”, organised by the German power transmission system operator (TSO) 50Hertz, a shareholder of TSCNET Services, brought together more than 40 experts to discuss the first experiences with the coordinated use of so-called phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) in Poland, Czechia and Germany. The PSTs put into operation in the past two years allow load flows in the alternating current grid to be better controlled, even between neighbouring countries. In the past, in connection with the German energy transition and electricity trading to southern Europe, there had been an increase in “unplanned loop flows” via Poland and Czechia, some of which had led to a high load on their grids and which practically brought cross-border electricity trade to a standstill.

The coordinated use of PSTs with the Czech TSO ČEPS and the Polish TSO PSE enabled a significant reduction in “unplanned loop flows”, said Dr. Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz. “This is a very pleasing development, because it has relieved the load on the networks of our Polish and Czech neighbours and we can also provide more capacity at the border coupling points for European electricity trading in the future,” explains Biermann. Load flow control with PSTs had very positive effects on the efficient use of the existing power grid. This will be even more important in the future in order to successfully advance the energy transition with an ever increasing share of renewable energies while maintaining a high system stability.

TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, ČEPS, and PSE draw a positive interim balance on the use of phase-shifting transformers (illustration using pictures of 50Hertz / Jan Pauls and www.siemens.com/press)

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First hybrid Statcom facility in Germany

26.04.2018

In the three-phase transmission system, reactive power must be in a well-balanced ratio to active power in order to keep the grid’s voltage on the required level. Without reactive power, the transmission of electricity would not be possible. In the “old” German energy landscape, mainly nuclear and other large power plants have been providing reactive power capacities. Since in the course of the energy transition more and more of these facilities go off the grid, the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) respond with the installation of reactive power compensation systems.

An outstanding example of this is given by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, which is expanding the traditional Borken substation in the northern part of the federal state of Hesse to one of the most modern green power hubs of its grid. Here in Borken, practically in the middle of the German power system, the TSO is currently constructing a hybrid static synchronous compensator (Statcom) plant. From the end of 2019, the state-of-the-art facility will dynamically support the mains voltage and provide reactive power at 380kV level, thus making an important contribution to secure grid operation after the shutdown of the large power plants.

The Statcom plant in Borken, with its hybrid construction, will be the first of its kind in the entire German electricity grid. A mayor advantage of this system is its small space requirement ‒ in comparison to its wide reactive power control range. This considerably reduces the environmental impact. In the particular case of Borken, the renaturation of a nearby river has now become possible. Other reactive power compensation measures of TenneT include the new substation Bergrheinfeld/West with its phase shifting and direct coupling transformers. In addition to building new facilities, TenneT is also exploring other ways to provide reactive power, such as utilising wind power and photovoltaic systems.

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

 

Picture: TenneT

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Grid modernisation and profit increase in Czechia

23.04.2018

High revenues from cross-border capacity auctions and system services, sustainable business practices, and well-considered investments in the Czech transmission system belong to the mainstays of a very succesful business year 2017 for TSCNET shareholder ČEPS, the Czech transmission system operator (TSO). The profit of CZK2.897bn (about €114m) before tax represents an increase of CZK824.6m (about €32.5m) in comparison to 2016. As in previous years, ČEPS continued to diligently maintain and expand the national grid in 2017 and spent more than CZK3.5bn (about €138m) on the transmission infrastructure. At the same time, ČEPS transferred a total of 63,372GWh of electricity through the Czech transmission system, which reached a peak load of 11.769MW on 24 January.

The most important milestone in grid modernisation was the installation of four new phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) in the northern Bohemian substation in Hradec u Kadaně, which have been in full operation since September 2017. Jan Kalina, Chairman of the ČEPS Board of Directors, comments on the state-of-the-art PSTs: “These special transformers allow transferring maximum amounts of electricity without threatening the reliability of supplies in the Czech Republic and as such they significantly protect the Czech electricity system against dangerous electricity flows from abroad.” Other major projects completed in 2017 include the reconstruction of the Čechy Střed transformer station in the Central Bohemian Region and the construction of a new 400/110kV transformer station at Vernéřov in the region of Ústí nad Labem.

> See ČEPS press release (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “PST transformátory v rozvodně Hradec u Kadaně z pohledu dronů” (ČEPS, YouTube)

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Second DCT reaches new TenneT substation

19.04.2018

As a result of the energy transition, the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) all are heavily involved in compensation measures to maintain long-term security of electricity supply in light of the decommissioning of nuclear and other large-scale power plants. Since 2015, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, has been building the completely new substation Bergrheinfeld/West in northern Bavaria, near the already shutdown Grafenrheinfeld nuclear plant.

Bergrheinfeld/West is one of the projects TenneT considers essential for Germany’s energy future. Hence, the TSO invests about €100m in the new facility which will be one of the most modern of its kind. Already on site are a rotating phase shifter with generator transformer, three compensating coils and the first of two direct coupling transformers (DCTs) to connect TenneT’s supra-regional 380kV transmission grid to the regional 110kV grid. With a transmission capacity of 300MVA each, the transformers can theoretically provide electricity for around one million households.

Today, the second direct coupling transformer was delivered to Bergrheinfeld/West. It was built by GE Grid Solutions in Mönchengladbach and initially transported by ship across the rivers Rhine and Main to the port of Garstadt, where it was reloaded onto a 67-meter heavy-duty road transport unit. The transport weight of the transformer is about 260t, and the subsequent operating weight of both units will be 370t each. Preparations for the initial set up of the transformers are expected to be finished in July 2018, followed by the commissioning of the substation’s 380kV system section. The completion of the entire Bergrheinfeld/West substation is scheduled for 2019.

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

Picture: TenneT

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New transformer reaches Amprion substation

16.04.2018

Already in February 2018, a controllable rotating phase-shifter was supplied to the west Bavarian substation Oberottmarshausen near Augsburg, operated by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Due to the decommissioning of nuclear and other large power plants in the course of the energy transition, compensatory measures have become necessary for the German TSOs, and a phase-shifter is a highly effective and flexible reactive power compensation system to counterbalance the ceasing reactive power capacities.

Today, another heavy-duty road transport has reached Oberottmarshausen: The new transformer necessary to connect the rotating phase shifter to the grid. The transformer alone has a weight of about 235t, and the entire road tranport unit weighs around 480t. The work at the substation itself is well on schedule and Amprion expects to start trial operation of the new state-of-the-art equipment during the summer.

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from the video “Siemens at a glance – Energy Management” (YouTube)

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PST for Amprion substation

09.02.2018

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The decommissioning of nuclear and other large power plants in Germany in the course of the energy transition forces the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) to take compensatory measures in order to keep the grid’s voltage on the required level. Essential for voltage maintaining is the reactive power, which previously has been provided mainly by large power plants. Since more and more of these facilities go off the grid, the TSOs respond with the installation of reactive power compensation systems.

One example of this is given by TSCNET shareholder Amprion in the southern part of its control area. The Grundremmingen nuclear plant at the Danube river near Günzburg in the west Bavarian administratitave region of Swabia has been partially shut down on 31 December 2017. Its complete decommissioning is scheduled for 2021. To counterbalance the plant’s ceasing reactive power capacities, Amprion has been modernising since 2016 the substation Oberottmarshausen near Augsburg, an important interface between the transnational 380kV grid and the regional grids. The centrepiece of the upgraded substation will be a new controllable rotating phase-shifting transformer (PST). Such devices are particularly flexible compensation tools, which raise or lower the voltage in the transmission system just as required.

Already since 19 January, the new PST made by Siemens is on its way from Mülheim an der Ruhr to Oberottmarshausen by boat and train. The last part of the journey will be carried out as heavy-duty road transport. The entire road transport unit, including tractor and pusher, is about 44m long and weighs 441t. The PST is expected to reach the substation on 13 February..

Picture: Screenshot taken from the video “Siemens at a glance – Energy Management” (YouTube)

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