Demolition makes room for DC substation

14.05.2020

After TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, was granted building permit for the ULTRANET substation on the site of the former Philippsburg nuclear power plant in March 2020, the way is now finally clear for its construction. At 6.05 in the morning of 14 May 2020, the two cooling towers on the site of the former power plant were detonated. Now the necessary construction space of around 100,000m² is created. The Philippsburg plant was shut down completely on 31 December 2019 and the building construction of the ULTRANET substation is scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2020.

Since the future Philippsburg substation is the southern end point of the supra-regional high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line ULTRANET, it will be one of the most important energy hubs in Germany’s soon-to-be energy landscape. ULTRANET, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), is jointly implemented by the two TSCNET shareholders TransnetBW and Amprion. It will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of Germany to the more industrially developed southwest with low losses. In Philippsburg, the transmitted DC will be converted into AC and distributed regionally. In the reverse case, the substation enables the conversion of AC to DC, e.g. to transport excess photovoltaic power from the south to the north.

The fact that the “green” substation will feed renewable electricity into the transmission system instead of nuclear power is a representative of the entire German energy future. “The construction of our DC substation on the site of the cooling towers of the nuclear power plant is a visible sign and symbol of the progress of the energy transition,” comments Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “In future, renewable electricity will flow from the Philippsburg site through the TransnetBW transmission grid to the entire region. Thus, as the TSO in Baden-Württemberg, we ensure that our country will have the electricity it needs even in a future without nuclear power and coal.”

With the cooling towers of the Philippsburg nuclear plant detonated, TransnetBW will begin construction of the ULTRANET substation (picture: screenshot taken from video “Sprengung der Kühltürme des Atomkraftwerks Philippsburg”, in German, YouTube channel of German newspaper “Die Rheinpfalz“)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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Construction of ULTRANET substation approved

27.03.2020

The Philippsburg nuclear power plant in the German state of Baden-Württemberg was shut down completely on 31 December 2019. On the power plant site, TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the Transmission System Operator (TSO) from the southwest of Germany, is planning a new DC substation with a required area of around 100,000m². The substation is to become one of the most important energy hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape, as the supra-regional high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line ULTRANET will be connected here to the regional 380kV AC grid.

After intensive planning, TransnetBW submitted the application for construction permit to the competent district administration for examination in June 2018. The Landratsamt Karlsruhe has now approved the plans of the TSO. “The DC substation plays a central role in integrating renewable energies into the transmission grid,” explains Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “In the future, renewable electricity will flow from the Philippsburg site to the entire region. We are thus laying a cornerstone for supply security in a future without nuclear power and coal.”

ULTRANET, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), is jointly implemented by TransnetBW and the further TSCNET shareholder Amprion. It will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of Germany to the industrially highly developed southwest. The Philippsburg substation represents the southern end point of ULTRANET. Here, the DC transmitted via ULTRANET to Philippsburg is converted into AC and distributed throughout the region. Vice-versa, the substation allows the conversion of AC into DC, e.g. to transport surplus photovoltaic power from the south to the north.

TransnetBW has received official approval for the construction of the ULTRANET substation in Philippsburg (architectural sketch of the substation: Codema International GmbH / TransnetBW)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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HOPS commissions variable shunt reactor

22.01.2020

A further step for the successful implementation of the Croatian-Slovenian smartgrid project SINCRO.GRID has been taken. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) aims at optimising the efficiency of the Croatian and Slovenian electricity transmission grids through the application of advanced technologies and innovative data processing methods and is carried out by the two TSCNET shareholders ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO), and HOPS from Croatia.

At the beginning of December 2019, the ELES substation in Divača has been equipped with a variable shunt reactor, an effective compensation tool for reactive power control. Now HOPS has put the same technically advanced system into operation at its substation in Mraclin near Zagreb. With this, HOPS has concluded the first stage of SINCRO.GRID. After the implementation of additional measures and devices, including a static VAR compensator, the Croatian TSO will be able to actively manage the reactive power flows in the Croatian power grid. This will solve problems of overloads in the long term and thus have a positive effect on grid stability and security of supply for customers.

HOPS has commissioned a variable shunt reactor as part of the SINCRO.GRID project (picture: HOPS)

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> See HOPS press release, in Croatian (html)
> Visit SINCRO.GRID website (html)

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Variable shunt reactor for SINCRO.GRID

03.12.2019

The two transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders ELES from Slovenia and HOPS from Croatia are cooperating in SINCRO.GRID. This cross-border smart grid initiative is coordinated by ELES and comprises in addition to the TSOs also two distribution system operators (DSOs) from both countries. The objective of the European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is to optimise the efficiency of the respective national transmission systems by means of advanced technologies and innovative data processing methods.

Since the substantial allocation of EU funding to SINCRO.GRID under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme in 2017, the project has made significant progress. A vital component of SINCRO.GRID is optimising and installing compensation devices for reactive power control, e.g. variable shunt reactors, which are used in high-voltage transmission systems for voltage stabilisation during load variations. Now the ELES substation in Divača in south-eastern Slovenia has been equipped with such a technically advanced device manufactured by Siemens in Austria. The assembly work is in full swing and is expected to be completed by 12 December. Preparatory work for commissioning will then commence immediately.

Another major component of SINCRO.GRID is a dynamic thermal rating system for power grid operating limits. The aim is to evaluate marginal capacities of transmission system components considering weather influences and thus to improve operational safety and utilisation of overhead lines and transformers. In addition to hard- and software in control centres, atmospheric measuring devices, which are installed directly at the pylons, are also part of the system. Corresponding tests of innovative weather stations are underway. Last week, the substructure for the weather station on the Kleče-Divača overhead line was field tested.

SINCRO.GRID advances technical innovations (picture: ELES)

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> See ELES press release (html)
> Visit SINCRO.GRID website (html)

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Ultranet progresses

17.05.2019

The Ultranet substation on the grounds of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant (which will be completely shut down by 31 December 2019) in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg is to become one of the most significant power hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape. Here, the supra-regional DC line Ultranet will be connected to the regional 380kV grid of TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Ultranet will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of the country to the industrially highly developed southwest. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is jointly carried out by TransnetBW and further TSCNET shareholder Amprion.

Last July, construction work began in Philippsburg with the groundbreaking ceremony for a new gas-insulated switchgear. Now the work on the new DC substation is being initiated, as TransnetBW officially started the filling of the construction site with a symbolic first excavator operation on 16 May. “This is a special day for the ULTRANET DC project and for the energy transition,” declared Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, to around 50 invited representatives from politics, business and society. Dr. Götz continued that now a “visible sign for the progress of the project and our aim to bring renewable electricity to Philippsburg and the region” had been set.

In the meantime, the project partner Amprion has also made progress for Ultranet, albeit in a different domain: In keeping with the motto that it is better to talk to each other than about each other, the TSO on 15 and 16 May has invited municipalities, specialist authorities and citizens’ initiatives to exchange information on the Ultranet planning status in the Rheingau-Taunus and Main-Taunus districts. A first public participation procedure had earlier led to 15 alternative routes in the respective districts, which Amprion examined in more detail. Based on the additional expert exchange, Amprion wants to better integrate the local knowledge and expertise of the participants for the comparison of variants and their environmental impacts.

TransnetBW has started preparing the construction site for the Ultranet substation in Philippsburg (picture: TransnetBW)

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

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EC calls for further PCIs

22.03.2019

Under the “Connecting Europe Facility” (CEF) Energy Work Programme, the European Commission (EC) is providing a further €750m to finance Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) in the energy sector, which of course includes electricity and smart grid projects. In addition to the objective of increasing competitiveness, the EC aims to promote pan-European security of supply and sustainable, environment-friendly grid development.

Since 20 March, the EC is calling for proposals for projects focusing, for example, on market integration, interoperability of networks across borders, integration of renewable energies or the elimination of bottlenecks as well as energy isolation. The deadline for project submissions is 13 June 2019, and a virtual information day for all interested parties will be held on 19 April.

In the framework of the CEF programme, the EC calls for proposals for PCIs contributing to the objectives of the European Energy Union (picture: EC-Audiovisual Service / Etienne Ansotte)

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> See EC press release (html, with access to all the relevant documents)

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News from PCI Energy Days

20.03.2019

The PCI Energy Days, organised by the European Commission (EC), offer promoters of European Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) the opportunity to present their projects and exchange experiences on how to build a future-proof and environmentally friendly energy infrastructure with innovative concepts. The inaugural PCI Energy Days took place on 19 and 20 March 2019 in the Belgian capital of Brussels and featured a policy conference as well as an exhibition on the practical implementation of specific PCIs. Among the attendees were the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSOE), the three transmission system operators (TSO) and TSCNET shareholders ELES from Slovenia, HOPS from Croatia and the Dutch-German company TenneT.

ELES took the opportunity to present in cooperation with HOPS the Croatian-Slovenian smart grid project SINCRO.GRID. Coordinated by ELES, SINCRO.GRID comprises in addition to the TSOs also two distribution system operators (DSOs) from both countries. The aim of the cross-border project is to optimise the efficiency of the respective national power transmission systems using advanced technologies and innovative data processing methods.

The Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI), an association of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and TSOs from all over Europe, was also present at the PCI Energy Days to celebrate the signing of the Marine Grid Declaration. The Declaration sets out principles for grid development in the marine environment, such as promoting early mutual communication with stakeholders, adequate protection of the marine environment and knowledge sharing. The RGI members, which include the TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, HOPS, Swissgrid and TenneT, recognise the cooperation between TSO and NGOs as a highly promising approach to building a sustainable marine grid infrastructure. The signatories to the Declaration commit themselves to developing marine projects in accordance with nature conservation principles and early stakeholder involvement. The Marine Grid Declaration builds on the principles previously agreed in RGI’s European Grid Declaration. If you are interested, you can still sign both declarations. In this case, please contact the RGI.

From 19 to 20 March, the inaugural EC PCI Energy Days were held in Brussels, Belgium (picture: RGI)

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> See ELES press release (html)
> See RGI press release (html)
> Open Marine Grid Declaration (pdf, 926,8kB)

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EU invests in priority energy infrastructure

05.02.2019

The “Connecting Europe Facility” (CEF) programme by the European Commission (EC) is a major European funding instrument to support the Energy Union, which is one of the EC’s policy priorities. CEF promotes the development of high performing, sustainable and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks in transport, energy and digital services sectors. Significant infrastructure projects of TSCNET shareholders are also considered as Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) and worthy of support.

PCIs financed by CEF include for example the Viking Link interconnector of the Danish transmission system operator (TSO) Energinet, the SuedLink DC line in Germany – a joint venture of the Dutch-German TSO TenneT and TransnetBW from southwestern Germany – and the joint smart grid project SINCRO.GRID of TSOs ELES and HOPS from Slovenia and Croatia respectively.

Last week, the EU Member States endorsed the EC’s proposal to invest a further €800 million under the CEF in infrastructure projects with high cross-border benefits. The current approval concerns the CEF’s financial support for studies and work on a total of 14 projects. Priority has been given to initiatives to increase competitiveness, improve security of energy supply and contribute to sustainable development and environmental protection.

The EU is investing a further €800m in priority energy infrastructure (illustration based on a picture by EC-Audiovisual Service / Mauro Bottaro)

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> See EC press release (html)

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2nd CBA guideline approved

15.10.2018

The European Commission (EC) has approved the second Guideline for Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) of grid development projects submitted by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E). The comprehensive CBA document, now published by ENTSO-E, and the new methodology included in the publication are the result of a three-year process that has taken full account of the proposals of stakeholders, member states, regulators and the EC. ENTSO-E itself describes the guideline design as “learning by implementing”.

The CBA methodology is of such significance in that it not only provides the sole European methodology allowing a consistent assessment of Ten-Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP) transfer and storage projects, but its results are also the main input for the EC in the selection of European Projects of Common Interest (PCIs). In addition, the European CBA methodology can be regarded as a source of learning for national CBAs.

The European Commission has approved the 2nd ENTSO-E guideline for the CBA of grid development projects

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html, with access to CBA guideline)

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ACER evaluates progress of PCIs

08.07.2017

Affordable, secure, and sustainable energy in an integrated European market – in order to help achieving these goals, the European Commission has appointed numerous electricity and gas infrastructure projects, which are considered to be essential, as Projects of Common Interest (PCIs).

It is the task of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) to annually assess the progress of the PCI implementation. Now ACER has published its third consolidated report on the PCIs included in the second EU list of November 2015. The report covers the period from 1 February 2016 until 31 January 2017 and mentions projects of most of the TSC member TSOs.

As far as the 111 listed electricity PCIs are concerned, the Agency received reports from all but two of those. While several project promotors announced significant progress, approximately half of the PCIs fell behind last year’s schedule, mainly due to delays in permitting processes. The estimated investment costs for electricity PCIs amount to €49.8bn. ACER also calculated the presumable monetised benefits of the electricity projects, which sum up to €66.1bn.

> See ACER press release (html)
> Open PCI report (pdf, 2.2mb)

Picture: Screenshot taken from PCI interactive map (European Commission)

 

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