Building permit for the Uckermark line of 50Hertz


Since 2005, 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the north-east of Germany, has been engaged in the planning of the new, higher capacity Uckermark Line (“Uckermarkleitung”). The new 380kv overhead line is to replace the existing 220kv line that went into operation in 1958, whereby the TSCNET shareholder takes account of the growing relevance of renewable energies in its control area. The new Uckermark Line will run from the Bertikow substation near Prenzlau to the Neuenhagen substation in the north-east of Berlin and connect further substations, one of which is an important interconnector to Poland. It will be capable of transmitting up to five times more electricity, so that in future more wind and solar power from the German states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania can be transported to the southern consumption centres.

The start of construction of the 115-kilometre-long new line was delayed for reasons of bird protection: A German nature conservation association had filed a complaint against the planning approval decision granted in 2014. This necessitated a supplementary planning procedure, expert reports on bird protection, consultations, and modifications. The competent authority now granted the building permit, which maintains 50Hertz’ originally planned routing. The future Uckermark Line will no more affect the biosphere reserve Schorfheide-Chorin and thus pays considerable attention to nature conservation. Special permits have been issued for other bird sanctuaries that cannot be bypassed due to their size, including compensation measures to preserve biodiversity. The dismantling of the old power line plays an important role here, but also bird protection markers or special pylons with reduced height.

50Hertz has been cooperating for several years with various nature conservation organisations and ornithological observatories to better assess the possible threats to birds. A nationwide cooperative portal of TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs) in conjunction with the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) for data on detected accident birds is particularly noteworthy in this context. To increase acceptance of a project as essential for the energy transition and climate protection as the Uckermark Line, it is important to reconcile the substantial ecological added value of the capacity expansion with other nature conservation interests. Hence, the commitment of 50Hertz both to the ecologically necessary grid extension and to other environmental interests is highly to be appreciated.

50Hertz has obtained construction permit for the new 380kV Uckermark line (symbolic picture: 50Hertz) 

> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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RGI report on bird data collected by TSOs


Collisions of birds with power lines and lethal electric shocks pose a threat to certain bird species. European transmission system operators (TSOs) are aware of this and in order to minimise bird mortality from planned or existing infrastructure, TSOs collect significant amounts of data on birds. However, these data are often limited to specific projects or regions and are not collated. To better utilise the potential of this dispersed data for the benefit of birds, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI), an association of non-governmental organisations and transmission system operators (TSOs) from all over Europe, has initiated a collective data project.

Together with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and funded by the LIFE Programme of the European Union, RGI has compiled the report “Better utilisation and transparency of bird data collected by TSOs”, which has now been published. The aim of the joint effort is to provide the actors in the energy sector with the necessary information to reduce the negative impact of power lines on bird populations in the long term.

The data were collected through a questionnaire and a workshop session. The BTO and the RSPB have translated their findings into a comprehensive document which contains specific recommendations for market participants. The project partners intend to build on this work and contribute to the development of a tool to better understand the determinants of bird mortality and the effectiveness of mitigation measures.

RGI has published a report on the use of bird data from TSOs for species protection (picture: Pete Linforth, Pixabay)

> See RGI topic site (html)
> Open Bird data report (pdf, 1.02MB)

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RGI Award for the Combined Grid Solution


On 23 May, during the Energy Infrastructure Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) presented the “Good Practice of the Year” awards to the 2019 winners. RGI, an association of non-governmental organisations and transmission system operators (TSOs) from all over Europe, annually awards the “Good Practice of the Year” upon recommendation of a jury of experts since 2012. This year’s award in the category “Technological Innovation & System Integration” goes to the “Combined Grid Solution” (CGS), the world’s first hybrid interconnector by the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German TSOs, and Energinet, the TSO from Denmark.

The CGS is the first Danish-German offshore interconnector for which submarine cables have been laid between the offshore substations of the German wind farm Baltic 2 and the wind farm Kriegers Flak in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea. The renewable energy generated by the wind turbines has priority and can flow into both interconnected countries if needed. Free capacity can be used to exchange electricity between the Danish and German markets. The jury acclaimed the potential of the CGS “to be enormously consequential for the development of the North Sea and Baltic Sea resources, and its ambition of approaching 100% utilisation of the offshore grid assets”.

Elke Kwapis, Senior Project Manager Offshore at 50Hertz, acknowledged “the collaborative manner amongst all project team members from 50Hertz and Energinet” and commented: “The CGS is the first offshore hybrid interconnector that allows integrating high shares of renewables and at the same time maximising the use of existing infrastructure for offshore wind grid connection.” Per Obbekær, project manager at Energinet, stressed the climate-specific impact of the CGS and the acute need for action: “We need to push all the known technologies and constantly focus on being innovative in our approach to new technologies in order for us to reach our climate goals cross borders.”

By the way, this is not the first time that 50Hertz has received the prize. In 2017, the TSO was awarded in the category “Communication & Participation” for the “DialogMobil”, an information van that functions as a kind of mobile citizen’s office.

The Combined Grid Solution project of 50Hertz and Energinet receives the “Good Practice of the Year Award” from the RGI (picture: RGI)

> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> See RGI press release (html)

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News from PCI Energy Days


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)

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

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Prolific exchange of cabling practices


From 5 to 6 July, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) held an international workshop on “The prospects of undergrounding power lines” in Raesfeld, in the northwestern part of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The event was co-hosted by TSC member Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Amprion conducts a pilot project on underground cabling in Raesfeld. Therefore the participants had the valuable opportunity to visit not only Amprion’s exhibition about underground cables during the course of the workshop, but also the construction site of the on-going project, where they inspected the laid cable and the cable transfer station.

The technology used in Raesfeld, the exemplary and early involvement of the affected public, and Amprion’s consideration of environmentally friendly aspects were introduced during the workshop. International experts additionally presented several other European underground cable projects, among those the Project Randstad North-ring by further TSC member TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. The participants exchanged their technical knowledge and also how to translate it into understandable messages for policy makers and regulators. Antonella Battaglini, RGI’s Managing Director, expressed her opinion on the importance of professional exchange in order to “provide guidance for the handling of underground cables throughout the entire planning process.”

All in all, it became clear that AC cabling is still a new technology and TSOs have to gain experience in construction, technology, and operation through pilot projects. Gerald Kaendler, Head of Asset Management at Amprion, commented: “The exchange with the experts from across Europe has shown that the implementation of pilot cable projects is a good way to achieve the best use of cables in terms of acceptance and environmental impact.”

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> Visit RGI workshop website with access to presentations

Picture: Amprion / Daniel Schumann


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50Hertz receives RGI “Good Practice of the Year” award


On 1 June, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) presented its “Good Practice of the Year” awards to the laureates of 2017 in the course of the Energy Infrastructure Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark. RGI is devoted to exploring the best options to develop a climate-friendly and sustainable transmission system infrastructure. With its awards, the initiative honours outstanding approaches in this field. The “Communication & Participation” category – rewarding innovative and improving methods of engagement with stakeholders or the broader public – is headed this year by TSC member 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators.

50Hertz has conceived a simple, yet very effective and flexible solution to appeal to a broad public: An information van (“DialogMobil”) that functions as a mobile citizen’s office. The “DialogMobil” enables 50Hertz to address and engage people who otherwise might not be able or willing to visit traditional information events. The RGI jury ackknowledged the TSO’s “different and innovative way to establish trust” and came to the conclusion that 50Hertz “hugely expanded the opportunities for people to engage early and extensively”.

Marco Nix, CFO at 50Hertz, attended the award ceremony. In his acceptance speech, Mr Nix appreciated the “Good Practice of the Year” award for 50Hertz “as a confirmation of our transparent dialogue approach” and explained: “With the ‘Mobile Citizen’s Office’ we do not only inform, but ‘unlock’ very valuable local knowledge to improve the project outcomes.” Grid extension needs dialogue with all interest groups – for this reason 50Hertz wanted to continue the path the TSO has taken.

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

Picture: 50Hertz


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Future perspectives of underground cabling


The Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) invites to an international workshop on “The prospects of undergrounding power lines”. The event will take place on 5 and 6 July in Raesfeld, in the northwestern part of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. This location has not been chosen randomly, since in Raesfeld the workshop participants have the great opportunity to explore an ongoing cable project conducted by TSC member Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Amprion serves also as host of the RGI event.

What is the status quo of underground cabling for power transmission in Europe? Firsthand-accounts from TSOs and stakeholders on pilot cable projects like the one in Raesfeld will provide the groundwork for the workshop discussions. Apart from the hosting TSO Amprion, several TSC members are also part of the RGI family: 50Hertz from Germany, the Croatian TSO HOPS, Swissgrid from Switzerland, and the Dutch-German TSO TenneT. Since its foundation in 2009, RGI supports the development of the transmission system infrastructure needed for integrating renewable energy.

> See RGI workshop invitation with access to registration form (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “Erdkabelbaustelle in Raesfeld” (Amprion)


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HOPS enters Renewables Grid Initiative


Since its foundation in 2009, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) is devoted to exploring the best options to develop the transmission system infrastructure needed to succesfully integrate large shares of renewable energy. RGI promotes investments in grid extension and tries to increase the much needed public and political support.

Transmission system operators (TSOs) and non-governmental organisations such as WWF International, BirdLife Europe, Germanwatch, Fundación Renovables, or the Climate Action Network are teaming up in RGI. Four TSC members – 50Hertz and Amprion from Germany, Swissgrid from Switzerland, and the Dutch-German TSO TenneT – are already part of RGI. Now the Croatian TSO HOPS has also officially joined RGI.

> See HOPS press release, in Croatian (html)

Picture: Edited Screenshot taken from video “Renewables-Grid-Initiative Animation English” (RGI, YouTube)


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