TenneT and Gasunie present “Infrastructure Outlook 2050”

15.02.2019

Electricity grids in Europe are increasingly confronted with the fluctuating feed-in of renewable energies. Consequently, they need more flexibility, which can be provided by the comprehensive coupling of sectors such as energy, transport, industry and heat. Many European transmission system operators (TSOs) have identified the integration of electricity and gas transmission infrastructures as a promising approach to fulfilling the requirements of the coming sustainable energy system. Electricity and gases must complement each other, since interlinking both grid types creates new storage possibilities and also provides additional transport options for renewables. Both factors will help to keep energy supplies reliable and affordable also in the low carbon energy future.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO for electricity, and Gasunie, the Dutch TSO for gas, each operate grids in the Netherlands as well as in Germany. Last year they entered into a sector coupling partnership with plans for the Power-to-Gas (PtG) pilot plant “ELEMENT ONE”. Now the TSOs have presented their joint “Infrastructure Outlook 2050”. It clearly illustrates that the existing electricity and gas infrastructures in the Netherlands and Germany continue to play a decisive role in coping with the increase in renewable energies and achieving the Paris climate targets. The main conclusion of the joint TSO study is that electricity and gas networks must be more closely interconnected by 2050 in order to meet the objectives. The Outlook is also the first document of its kind to consider various scenarios for the future development of energy supply.

The importance of hydrogen from PtG technologies for energy storage and transport is also highlighted. But even despite the potential of sector integration, further expansion of the electricity grid remains essential, as all scenarios envisage a significant increase in the necessity of electricity transport. In addition, however, there must also be backing from political decision-makers and the creation of a clear, supportive regulatory framework. Manon van Beek, CEO at TenneT, argues that “energy systems are not converted overnight but require sustained, joint efforts”. She therefore sees the need for close cooperation between all those involved in the energy market. In this respect, the “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” represents a “solid, joint start with fresh insights”.

TenneT and Gasunie present the “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” on developing and coupling of transmission infrastructures (picture: Gasunie)

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Open “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” (pdf, 45.28Mb)

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Hybridge to couple energy sectors

11.02.2019

Last summer, TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) for electricity, and Open Grid Europe (OGE), German TSO for natural gas, announced a collaboration in the field of sector coupling by means of power to gas (PtG) facilities. PtG technologies offer promising perspectives for a low-carbon energy future. Now the two partners are ready to launch the sector coupling at system level in Germany with the project “hybridge” comprising an electrolyser in the 100MW class and a hydrogen infrastructure.

At a joint press conference on 11 February in the German capital of Berlin, the current status of hybridge and further steps were presented. Since the partners, who estimate the costs for the entire project at €150m, are ready to enter the approval phase, Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, explained that the regulatory framework must now be set up quickly. The more so, as it is crucial for the German climate targets that PtG is available in the GW range from 2030. “The ball is in the court of politics. If the course is set now, the plant can already go into operation in 2023,” commented Dr. Kleinekorte.

The ideal location for the first PtG plant in the projected size, in which electricity from renewable energies is converted into green hydrogen and partly further into green methane via an electrolyser, was found at an intersection between the Amprion and OGE grids in the district of Emsland in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony. The regional natural gas storage facilities, which can be converted to hydrogen in the future, also contribute to optimal conditions for the development of a hydrogen grid to complement the 100MW electrolyser. Amprion and OGE intend to further develop an existing OGE pipeline for the exclusive transport of hydrogen. The concept of Amprion and OGE for sector coupling at system level also includes non-discriminatory third-party access for all market participants to the planned grid coupling infrastructure.

Amprion and the gas-TSO Open Grid Europe are ready to launch their joint sector coupling project “hybridge” (picture: Amprion; from left to right: Dr. Thomas Hüwener, Member of the OGE Management Board, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Coupling of renewables and PtG for climate targets

11.12.2018

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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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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First TenneT Offshore Conference

07.11.2018

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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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Watch “ANYmal” demonstration videos on Twitter (html)

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“ELEMENT ONE” couples green energy sectors

17.10.2018

Power-to-gas (PtG) technologies can make a significant contribution to solving the problem of the weather-dependent and thus volatile availability of renewable energies. The PtG offer for a low carbon energy future is to convert sustainable electricity into gas (green hydrogen or methane), so that the gas infrastructure can be used additionally for the transport and storage of renewable energies. A future milestone in the PtG area is now emerging, as TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) for electricity, and the two TSOs for gas, Gasunie and Thyssengas, have embarked on concrete planning for green sector coupling using PtG technologies.

Without ambitious and courageous lighthouse projects, the energy transition cannot be successfully promoted, and the three TSOs have just presented precisely this kind of project with “ELEMENT ONE”. In the German federal state of Lower Saxony, the three operators are planning to build a PtG pilot plant, which will be the largest of its kind in Germany with a capacity of 100MW. From 2022, the plant will gradually be connected to the grid and offer new storage capacities for renewable energies. The ultimate long-term goal to be achieved by the partners is a comprehensive coupling of the energy, transport and industry sectors.

TenneT sees great potential in PtG technologies because they can provide the power grid with a much needed degree of flexibility. And this creates many advantages for grid operation as Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, emphasises: “The ability to store large volumes of renewable electricity will reduce the load on the power grid. That, in turn, helps us limit the expensive curtailment of wind turbines and make the power supply more reliable.” And what may be perhaps the most significant aspect for the public ‒ considering the ongoing discussions about grid extension in Germany ‒ is the prediction that “storing more green energy also entails a reduced need for further grid expansion after 2030”.

In cooperation with Gasunie and Thyssengas, TenneT presents the ELEMENT ONE project for green sector coupling using PtG technology

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Coupling of electricity and gas infrastructures

20.06.2018

To achieve climate targets, the German government has introduced a quota for the share of renewable energies in total electricity generation of 65% by 2030. Without cross-sectoral innovation and cooperation, this will be extremely difficult to achieve. Power to gas (PtG) technologies offer new opportunities to realise a low-carbon energy future and meet legal requirements. That is why TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) for electricity, and Open Grid Europe (OGE), a German TSO for natural gas with a large gas transmission system, have decided to jointly propel smart sector coupling involving PtG facilities.

On 20 June, the two TSOs presented their cooperation on a joint press conference in the German capital of Berlin. Both companies believe that seasonal energy storage concepts are a vital response to the volatility of the renewables. The most economically efficient solution for this is PtG when utilising the existing gas infrastructure. Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, Chief Technical Officer at Amprion, comments on the PtG initiative: “The use of this technique on an industrial scale has not yet been proven in practice. However, this will be all the more necessary in the years to come.”

PtG technology is capable of converting renewable electricity into hydrogen or synthetic methane, so that the current gas infrastructure can be used additionally for the transport and storage of renewable energies. As TSOs, Amprion and OGE are ready to test PtG on an industrial scale and thereby make a significant contribution to a successful energy transition. “Our common goal is to beneficially couple our respective infrastructures,” explains Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, Amprion’s Chief Commercial and Financial Officer. The ambitious vision is “to have the option of large-scale storage systems from 2030 onwards”.

From left to right: Stephan Kamphues, Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte (Picture: Open Grid Europe GmbH)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See OGE press release (html)

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North Sea Wind Power Hub presentation

25.05.2018

The road to a sustainable low-carbon energy future cannot be successfully pursued without ambitious and courageous lighthouse projects. With a fundamentally original concept of combining wind energy production, storage and transmission with a multinational interconnector, the North Sea Wind Power Hub vision definitely falls into that category. The hub concept comprises one or more so-called Power Link Islands which are built in shallow North Sea waters with ideal wind conditions and connected to multiple offshore wind facilities. The vision also includes power to gas technologies in the form of gas-based transmission and storage solutions. Such islands facilitate the distribution and transmission of wind power and may additionally serve to interconnect the transmission systems of the North Sea neighbouring states.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub was originally conceived by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The Hub consortium by now also consists of Danish TSO Energinet, another TSCNET shareholder, the Dutch natural gas infrastructure and transmission company Gasunie and the Port of Rotterdam. The Clean Energy Ministerial ‒ part of this year’s Nordic Clean Energy Week in Copenhagen and Malmö ‒ provided a welcome opportunity to showcase the North Sea Wind Power Hub in front of a considerable number of Energy Ministers from most of the largest economies in the world, as well as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and The Netherlands.

Lars Barfoed, Chairman of the Board of Energinet, took over the presentation on behalf of the consortium. Mr Barfoed identified the shared vision of new energy highways and trade corridors between the North Sea riparians as “bold, but simple”. Instead of individual national offshore connections for the integration of ever increasing offshore wind energy, an internationally coordinated hub concept would be much more efficient, also in economic terms. Of course, the vison requires sustainable political support and cooperation at the international level. “We need to focus more on the whole picture,” explains Mr Barfoed. “If a wind power hub in the North Sea is to move from vision to reality, whatever its technical and economic potential, it requires massive political support from a large number of participating countries.”

> See Energinet press release (html)
> See TenneT press release (html)
> Visit North Sea Wind Power Hub website (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “North Sea Wind Power Hub vision” (North Sea Wind Power Hub Consortium, YouTube)

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TenneT explores offshore potentials

29.11.2017

In line with the expansion of the North Sea Wind Power Hub consortium, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has presented further possibilities to promote offshore wind power capacities in the North Sea and interconnect national electricity markets. TenneT’s objective is twofold. The TSO aims at fulfilling the European climate targets on the one hand and reducing energy costs for customers on the other.

To increase wind energy generation in the Dutch North Sea, wind farms being situated further offshore and high capacity DC connections are considered necessary. TenneT has investigated two options relating thereto: Offshore converter platforms to convert the AC produced by the wind farms into DC for the onshore transmission, or the construction of an artificial island instead of platforms. The latter option allows converter placement and maintennace on solid ground. An Island could also host port facilities or power-to-gas technologies and facilitate direct electricity market connections.

Such an interconnector would be the offshore grid infrastructure solution called WindConnector. Together with The Crown Estate, the British real estate business and seabed manager, TenneT commissioned a study on this ambitious project. Similar to the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept, the WindConnector serves two purposes: the transmission of wind-generated electricity, and the interconnection of markets, in this case referring to the Netherlands and Great Britain. Commenting on the study, TenneT’s CEO Mel Kroon explains: “Combining infrastructure for offshore wind energy with an interconnector greatly increases the utilisation rate, and with that reduces the cost of energy for consumers.”

> See TenneT press release on Dutch offshore solutions (html)
> See TenneT press release on WindConnector study (html)

Illustration: TenneT (computer simulation of an island hub)

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Port of Rotterdam joins power hub consortium

28.11.2017

The European climate and energy objectives are undoubtedly ambitious – nonetheless, the European transmission system operators (TSOs) are eager to fulfill their part in realising a sustainable low-carbon energy future. For this purpose, exceptional lighthouse projects are required, such as the North Sea Wind Power Hub. This visionary hub concept comprises the construction of one or more so-called Power Link Islands situated in shallow North Sea waters with ideal wind conditions. Connected to a large number of offshore wind facilities, such an island can facilitate the distribution and transmission of wind-generated electricity and also serve as interconnector between North Sea riparian states.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub was originally conceived by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. In March 2017, TenneT TSO B.V. (Netherlands) and TenneT TSO GmbH (Germany) were complemented by another TSCNET shareholder, Energinet from Denmark. The hub consortium was further expanded in September, when Dutch natural gas infrastructure and transmission company Gasunie joined, bringing its expertise in terms of power-to-gas technologies into the fold.

Now another important step for the success of North Sea Wind Power Hub is taken: The Port of Rotterdam has become the fifth member of the hub consortium. The Port of Rotterdam not only pursues a clear sustainability strategy, but also has pertinent knowledge in the field of seaward land reclamation. With respect to the island construction, the port’s specific experiences will prove to be very valuable for the hub project.

> See TenneT press release (html)
> See Energinet press release (html)
> Visit North Sea Wind Power Hub website (html)

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Consortium for Wind Power Hub expanded

14.09.2017

Meeting the future demand for renewable electricity and achieving the EU’s offshore wind energy targets as well as the objectives of the Paris climate agreement – these are primary concerns for European transmission system operators (TSOs) such as Energinet from Denmark, TenneT TSO B.V. (Netherlands), and TenneT TSO GmbH (Germany). Earlier this year, the three TSC members have thus agreed to jointly explore and develop the North Sea Wind Power Hub, a large renewable electricity system in the North Sea. The TSOs also expressed their intention to expand the cooperation to a European multi-party consortium.

The basic idea of the visionary hub project is the construction of one or more so-called Power Link Islands in the shallow waters of the central North Sea. A large amount of offshore wind facilities is to be connected to such an island, that will serve as distributor and transmitter of sustainable energy, and above that as interconnector between the energy markets of the North Sea riparian states. Since power to gas technologies are destined to play an important part in the European energy landscape of the future, they are likewise an integral part of the North Sea Wind Power Hub – in terms of gas-based transmission and storage solutions.

Given this premise, it is very welcome indeed, that the Dutch natural gas infrastructure and transmission company Gasunie has joined the hub consortium. Gasunie will not only contribute its expertise regarding gas storage and transport, but also its technological experience in the handling and conversion of renewable gases such as hydrogen. Power-to-gas conversion techniques allow to store and transmit large quantities of wind-generated energy in the form of hydrogen. Storage on a Power Link Island would take place close to the offshore energy source, and from here, the energy could be transmitted through an existing gas infrastructure.

> See Energinet press release (html)
> See TenneT press release (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “North Sea Island TenneT” (TenneT, YouTube)

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