BorWin3 in operation

12.08.2019

The offshore grid connection BorWin3 operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT in the German Bight is ready for feed-in since early August. This means that the total transmission capacity for offshore wind farms in the German North Sea is already 7.132GW. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has thus not only met the German government’s expansion targets for sustainable North Sea wind power – 6.5GW by 2020 – but has significantly exceeded them.

BorWin3, TenneT’s twelfth offshore grid connection project, brings a further 900MW capacity. After BorWin1 and BorWin2, it is the third connection that the TSO has implemented near the East Frisian island of Borkum using DC technology. The corresponding converter and transformer station were built at TenneT’s Emden/Ost site to feed the green energy into the onshore extra-high voltage grid. BorWin3 bridges a total distance of 160km. The submarine cable is 130km long and the last section ashore to Emden/Ost is completed by underground cabling.

The TSO can be satisfied with its own offshore progress, but TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens calls for further efforts, as the current rate of offshore wind expansion in Europe is not sufficient to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. “An accelerated, large-scale and internationally coordinated expansion is necessary,” explains Meyerjürgens. In this context, TenneT has just presented a feasibility study of the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept for the implementation of wind power distribution hubs in the North Sea. Meyerjürgens points out that with an internationally coordinated approach the connection and integration of large offshore wind energy capacities could be much more effective and cost-efficient than with continued individual national planning.

In early August, the offshore grid connection BorWin3 of TenneT was put into operation (picture of the offshore converter platform BorWin gamma: TenneT)

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TenneT on track for the energy transition

31.07.2019

Highly satisfactory business results and maintenance of the high level of 99.99% security of supply, are hallmarks of the half year report of the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder Tennet. The latter is a growing challenge for the transmission system operator (TSO) because of the increased feed-in of volatile renewable energy. But above all, the report illustrates the commitment of the TSO to the European energy transition.

To take further steps in shaping the energy system of the future, TenneT has launched a series of strategic initiatives and partnerships to join forces across sectors. TenneT is participating in a German power-to-gas pilot project and is working together with regional grid operators and market partners on smart solutions to optimise the use of existing electricity infrastructure. The TSO is also involved in blockchain pilots to create flexibility for balancing the power system from decentralised sources.

TenneT has further strengthened its position as a leading offshore TSO. In Germany, TenneT has awarded DolWin 5, the 14th offshore grid connection. TenneT will increase its current offshore transmission capacity from 6,232MW in the German North Sea to almost 9GW by 2024. In the Netherlands, too, the development of the offshore grid with the Borssele Alpha and Beta projects is on schedule. TenneT intends to provide a total of 10.6GW of connection capacity for Dutch offshore wind farms by 2030. The TSO is also carrying out several onshore projects to ensure the transport of the growing amount of green electricity and thus security of supply in its control areas. Important interconnecting projects are the NordLink cable connection, which is currently being built to directly link the German and Norwegian markets for the first time. The COBRAcable between the Netherlands and Denmark has “landed” at the Dutch shore and will go into operation this year.

These developments are complemented by solid and impressive figures: Underlying operating result (EBIT) rose from €362m (first half of 2018) to €407m in the first half of 2019. €1,094m (first half of 2018: €904m) were invested in the Dutch and German high-voltage grids (of which €612m in Germany) and a total of €1.75bn green bonds were successfully issued. Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the report: “We have embarked on an irreversible transition to a sustainable society and a new energy system. This requires investments, not only in new electricity connections, but also in innovations and digitalisation. We have to move to holistic energy system thinking and also work on solutions to make better use of the existing high-voltage grids. We are convinced that this is the way forward to limit social costs and at the same time maintain a very high security of supply.”

TenneT presents its half year report 2019 (picture: TenneT)

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50Hertz and TenneT awarded for PtG projects

26.07.2019

Last week, Peter Altmaier, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, announced the winners of the ideas competition “Reallabore der Energiewende” (“Real Laboratories of the Energy Transition), which aims to promote promising energy technologies of the future, especially in the field of hydrogen technology. The winners include the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from north-east Germany, and Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, as they are both involved in award winning projects.

Tennet is cooperating with Gasunie and Thyssengas for ELEMENT ONE, a power-to-gas (PtG) plant to be built in the German federal state of Lower Saxony, which will be capable of converting up to 100MW of electrical power into gas. ELEMENT ONE is in the planning phase, but the project partners are confident that the results of the project will provide crucial information on electricity and gas grid integration, the development of operator models and the regulatory environment. With their approach, they aim to accelerate the urgently needed transfer of technology and innovation from research to practice in the field of sector coupling and hydrogen technology.

Key technologies of energy supply
50Hertz is involved as associated partner in two winning PtG projects: “GreenHydroChem Mitteldeutsches Chemiedreieck“ in Saxony-Anhalt, and “Reflau – Referenzkraftwerk Lausitz“ in Brandenburg. These two projects also focus on sector coupling and hydrogen technology. The partners for GreenHydroChem are Siemens, Linde, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems (IMWS). With a 50MW electrolyser, regeneratively generated electricity is first to be converted into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then converted in refineries into base chemicals and methanol, which can be blended with conventional fuels for the use in the transport sector. With Reflau, the partners want to combine and test in practice key technologies of energy supply with renewable energies and hydrogen as a chemical storage.

Dr. Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, welcomes the support for innovative technologies: “With our involvement in the laboratories, we are specifically promoting the development of Power-to-X technologies for the energy market. Because if things get serious in a few years’ time, we will need proven and grid-compatible experience with this new technology.”

50Hertz and TenneT are among the winners of the German “Reallabore der Energiewende” competition for the promotion of innovative energy technologies (picture: Fraunhofer IMWS / Sven Döring)

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High growth in renewables in the 50Hertz area

17.07.2019

The generation of power from wind and sun is increasing steadily and strongly in the control area of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the north-eastern German transmission system operator (TSO). 21.6TWh of wind power were generated in the first half of 2019, compared with only 16.6TWh in the corresponding period of the previous year. In the same time, photovoltaic generation amounted to 6TWh, which is an increase of almost 170GWh. This corresponds with the rise in the installed capacity of onshore and offshore wind turbines, which totalled 19.6GW in mid-2019 (mid-2018: 18.9GW) and the installed capacity of photovoltaic systems, which reached 11.1GW (mid-2018: 10.6GW).

Despite this capacity increase and the incrementing feed-in of electricity into the grid, 50Hertz was able to maintain stable costs for congestion management, such as interventions in the operation of conventional power plants and the temporary shutdown of renewable energy facilities. In the first half of 2019, redispatch costs amounted to around €13m and the costs for feed-in management to around €48m.

This increase in renewable generation and installed capacity from renewable facilities shows that northern and eastern Germany make an indispensable contribution to achieving the German government’s target of a 65% share of renewable energies in nationwide electricity consumption by 2030. However, from the TSO perspective of 50Hertz, the necessary grid extension must be pushed ahead in parallel to be able to transmit the green electricity to the consumption centres in the south and to keep congestion management costs under control.

The generation of electricity from renewable sources is increasing in the control area of 50Hertz (picture showing the transformer platform of the Baltic Sea wind farm Arkona: 50Hertz)

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TenneT’s “sea harvest” increases

15.07.2019

9.51TWh – this is the considerable total amount of offshore wind power that TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), transmitted from sea to land in the first half of 2019. This means that the first half of 2018 (8.17TWh) will be exceeded by a whopping 16%, while on the German market offshore wind energy accounts for a strong 15% of total wind energy generation. At the same time, the cost efficiency of new offshore grid connection systems has further improved in recent months through the standardisation of TenneT’s offshore grid connection systems and the combined expertise of TenneT as a leading TSO at sea.

With the connections currently planned and under construction, TenneT will increase offshore transmission capacity in the German North Sea to almost 9GW by 2024. However, current efforts in Europe will not be sufficient to achieve the climate targets of the Paris Agreement. TenneT therefore calls for a stronger expansion of offshore wind energy in Europe to create a low carbon energy future. TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens refers to international studies and scenarios that indicate that “an accelerated and large-scale roll-out is necessary”.

In this context, Meyerjürgens also points to the North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH) concept, for which a positive feasibility study has just been carried out. The North Sea has great potential for offshore wind power, and the NSWPH consortium’s approach could result in 180GW of offshore wind power by 2045. Meyerjürgens explains: “A future internationally coordinated approach could implement the connection and integration of a roll-out of large-scale offshore wind energy more effectively and at considerably lower costs of up to 30% than with continued individual national planning.”

Offshore wind energy transmission by TenneT rose to 9.51TWh in the first half of 2019 (picture of SylWin Alpha converter platform: Tennet)

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New ploughing technology for cable laying under test

10.07.2019

The 380kV line from Wahle in the German federal state of Lower Saxony to Mecklar in the state of Hesse is one of the underground cable pilot projects laid down in the German Power Grid Expansion Act (Gesetz zum Ausbau von Energieleitungen – EnLAG). For the construction of the line, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is testing a new ploughing technology for laying empty conduits, into which the three-phase underground cables will later be inserted.

The so-called multiple ploughing method was presented today in the Lower Saxony village of Wartjenstedt (near Hildesheim) to representatives from politics, authorities, associations and the media, as well as farmers and land users. At a test track of around 200 metres, the cable plough specialist company Frank Föckersperger and TenneT demonstrated how the specially developed cable plough can be used for the Wahle-Mecklar project.

Olaf Lies, Minister for the Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection of Lower Saxony, was impressed by the demonstration: “The test in Wartjenstedt shows that when installing underground cables, it is possible to minimise interference with the existing soil structure and reduce construction costs and time by using new laying techniques.” TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens complements: “TenneT aims to introduce the multiple ploughing method to the state-of-the-art technology to accelerate the grid extension. After about three years of research, it is a great success to test this important innovation on site for Germany’s longest 380kV underground cable section.”

If the test phase for the plough, which is to last until mid-October 2019, is successful, TenneT intends to use the new method on suitable sections of the Wahle-Mecklar project on a trial basis in spring 2020. Depending on the test results and the respective local conditions, TenneT expects a significantly reduced construction time for underground cable lines when using the multiple plough. Since experience with cable ploughing technology has so far only been available for lower voltage levels, TenneT is once again doing pioneering work to design the energy transition grid and establish new technologies.

TenneT is conducting field tests on new ploughing technology for laying underground cables (picture: TenneT)

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Wind power hub promotes climate goals

10.07.2019

It’s only been a good three years since TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), first presented the concept of a North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH) to the public. From then on, the vision has taken concrete shape and the hub consortium has been consistently expanded, now including further TSCNET shareholder Energinet from Denmark, the port of Rotterdam and the Dutch natural gas company Gasunie, as power-to-gas applications are an important component of the concept.

In future years, when large wind regions in the North Sea are defined for development, it will be possible to implement several hubs to support the energy transmission infrastructure. These NSWPHs will then combine generation, storage and transmission of wind energy with a multinational interconnection of North Sea riparian states and thus promote the large-scale implementation and integration of offshore wind energy. The NSWPH partners have now presented the results of the project assessment phase. In recent months, they not only analysed options for the construction of wind farms in the North Sea, but also conducted a large number of studies, examined various scenarios and held intensive discussions with policy makers, leading offshore developers and non-governmental organisations.

The studies and investigations have confirmed the technical and economic feasibility of the hub concept. Furthermore, they have shown that large offshore wind capacities must be developed in the North Sea in order to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Convention in due time. The targeted capacities range from 70 to 150GW by 2040 and up to 180GW by 2045. Depending on the scope of development, the NSWPH could lay the foundation to supply hundreds of millions of Europeans with green electricity. To take the concept forward, the Danish, Dutch and German governments as well as the European Commission are invited by the NSWPH consortium to consider setting up a consultation.

Studies confirm the climate benefits of the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept (picture: TenneT)

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Investing for the energy future

27.06.2019

TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), presents its Annual Report 2018 on a specially designed website. What, from a TSO’s perspective, is most necessary for the successful energy transition in Germany – the sustainable expansion of the transmission system so that green electricity can be provided nationwide – is clearly reflected in Amprion’s figures for 2018: Amprion further increased its investments in grid extension, which amounted to €763m in 2018 and were 8.5% higher than in the previous year.

However, it is not sufficient for TSOs alone to fulfil their role, especially as grid extension needs to be accelerated significantly to keep pace with the expansion of the renewables. Politics must also help by setting the right course to promote the cross-sector transformation of the energy system. Amprion therefore calls for a national master plan for electricity and gas. Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, explains: “It is not enough just to connect renewable energies to the grid. From our system responsibility, we have the task of integrating them into the energy system.” This requires innovative concepts and technologies such as power-to-gas.

Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, Chief Commercial Officer and CFO of Amprion, adds at the company’s annual press conference in the German capital of Berlin, that the expansion of the electricity system as outlined in the German Network Development Plan remains the indispensable basis for achieving the climate targets and the secure and cost-effective power supply of the German conurbations. “Amprion is thus investing more than €9.3bn in its grid over the next ten years.”

Amprion presents Annual Report 2018 (picture: Amprion)

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TSO offshore connections are most cost-effective

26.06.2019

In most European countries with offshore wind farms, the respective transmission system operators (TSOs) are responsible for connecting these offshore facilities to the onshore grid, which they also operate. The TSCNET shareholders affected by this arrangement include the north-eastern German TSO 50Hertz, the Danish TSO Energinet and the Dutch-German TSO TenneT. But obviously this handling is not the only one possible. In the UK, for instance, the developer of the particular offshore wind farm is also responsible for its grid connection.

In concrete terms, this means that in the UK the offshore grid connection after its completion is sold to commercial investors and a so-called OFTO (Offshore Transport Owner) is established. But which model, the TSO model or the OFTO model, causes the lowest costs for consumers and thus for society?

The internationally accredited registrar and the world’s largest classification society, DNV GL, has investigated this question in more detail. The main outcomes of this study are that in the OFTO system the costs for the development of offshore connections are significantly higher than in Denmark and the Netherlands. In contrast, the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) of the Dutch and Danish offshore connections is significantly lower. The LCOE assesses the average total cost of constructing and operating an energy generating asset over its lifetime divided by its total energy output over that lifetime.

DNV GL has documented lower costs for the TSO connection of offshore wind farms than for the OFTO solution (illustration of Borssele Alpha: TenneT)

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Imminent test operation for COBRAcable

24.06.2019

COBRAcable, the first direct interconnection between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands, is a joint project of the two TSCNET shareholders Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. Since spring, the partner TSOs have been preparing the commercial operation of COBRAcable. TenneT and Energinet have now launched an Urgent Market Messages (UMM) site for the commissioning of COBRAcable, which is scheduled to take place between 3 July 2019 and 6 September 2019.

A total of around 30 individual tests with different energy charges in the respective transport directions are planned. It is expected that the full capacity of COBRAcable will be available for the day ahead and intraday markets from 7 September. TenneT and Energinet then will offer financial transmission rights on COBRAcable at monthly and annual auctions. The first auction is expected to take place after a full month of stable operation, so probably the auction for November 2019, which will be held in October.

By promoting the exchange of surplus wind energy, COBRAcable will improve the cohesion of the European transmission system and the integration of the electricity market. It will also make a sustainable contribution to the low carbon energy future by allowing future offshore wind farms in the North Sea to be hooked up to the DC interconnector.

Energinet and Tennet will carry out individual tests of COBRAcable as of 3 July (picture: screenshot taken from TenneT video “COBRAcable Cable Pull Fano Denmark Film”, YouTube)

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> Visit REMIT UMM site (html)

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