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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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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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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> See PSE press release (html)
> See 50Hertz webpage on the study, in German (html)
> Open Executive summary (pdf, 538.47kB)

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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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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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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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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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

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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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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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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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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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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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