TenneT commisions “green” substation

04.09.2020

In recent years, the seaport of Eemshaven in the province of Groningen in the north of the Netherlands has become more and more important for the Dutch energy transition. Eemshaven has taken on the role of an energy port: with power plants, sustainable generation, connections to offshore wind farms, and submarine cable interconnectors to Norway and Denmark. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT – together with regional distribution system operator (DSO) Enexis Netbeheer – now has commissioned the new high-voltage substation Eemshaven as the first substation entirely built for the suply of wind and solar energy.

The station was built as part of the grid reinforcement for the growing amount of sustainably generated energy in the north of the Netherlands which requires an increase in transmission capacity. Other measures of the TSCNET shareholder include a 380kV connection between the Eemshaven (Oudeschip) high-voltage substation and Vierverlaten near Groningen as well as the extension of the Vierverlaten substation. This new 380kV “power highway” will replace the existing 220kV line. Until it is put into operation – scheduled for 2023 – TenneT will commission a provisional 380kV substation in Eemshaven (Oostpolder) in October 2020.

TenneT has put into operation the new substation Eemshaven for the supply of green electricity (picture: TenneT)

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Building permit for the Uckermark line of 50Hertz

13.08.2020

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) 

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50Hertz aims for 100% renewables by 2032

03.07.2020

50 Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the north-east of Germany, has launched a climate and economic policy initiative for its control area, which consists of the federal states in eastern Germany and the city states of Berlin and Hamburg. The concrete goal is to cover 100% of the electricity demand in the 50Hertz grid area with renewable energies by the year 2032 and the secure integration of green electricity into the transmission system. As the annual average share of renewables in 2019 was around 60%, the initiative is entitled: “From 60 to 100 by 2032: for an economy with prospects”.

The “100 by 32” initiative corresponds to and exceeds the objectives of the EU Commission’s “Green Deal”, according to which Europe should become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The TSCNET shareholder will focus the entire corporate strategy on the new ambitious target and – in compliance with the legal requirements for safe and reliable grid operation – will mobilise its extensive expertise. Since, according to 50Hertz CEO Stefan Kapferer, further considerable efforts are necessary not only in the own company but also in politics, economy, and society, the TSO offers to support the German federal and state governments in developing suitable areas and potential for wind and solar energy, off- and onshore

Kapferer comments further on the strategy: “The transformation of our electric power supply has entered a new phase. Today’s parallel existence of a conventional fossil generation system and an energy system based on renewable sources is coming to an end. Wind and solar energy must be able to provide ancillary services in the future. We are determined to drive this transition forward, but now with new and full speed.”

50Hertz launches the corporate initiative “From 60 to 100 by 2032” for a complete coverage of electricity demand with renewable energies (picture: 50Hertz)

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Record amount of solar energy in Eastern Germany

31.03.2020

We are accustomed to hearing from 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the north-east of Germany, remarkable record figures as regards the feed-in of wind-generated electricity into the TSO’s transmission grid. Nonetheless, the TSCNET shareholder has always ensured the security and stability of power supply, also under circumstances that temporarily put a strain on the system. The above-average wind energy feed-in of February 2019, for example, meant that wind and sun accounted for around 85% of electricity consumption.

Now there are also impressive figures from the photovoltaic sector: Never before has the 50Hertz system management fed in so much solar power as last week, when an often almost cloudless sky provided a lot of sunshine for photovoltaic installations. An all-time high was achieved on Monday, 23 March, when at midday the TSO integrated almost 8,500MW of photovoltaic power into the grid without having to throttle a single MW.

According to 50Hertz CEO Stefan Kapferer, these figures prove the TSO’s experience in managing weather-related fluctuations in electricity supply from renewable sources and in the secure integration of even the highest shares of renewable energies. And also in current times of crisis, the 50Hertz system management is well prepared: “The present electricity demand, which is lower now due to the measures to fight the corona pandemic, is also manageable.“ 50Hertz is monitoring developments very closely and will increase control power reserves if necessary, so that sufficient reserve capacities are available anytime. “These capacities complement the electricity feed-in from renewable energy sources and therefore guarantee the stable operation of the grid and the system,” explains Stefan Kapferer.

In the fourth week of March, a record amount of solar energy was fed into the 50Hertz grid without losses

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First pylon of new East Bavarian Ring erected

16.11.2019

The Ostbayernring (East Bavarian Ring) is an existing power line operated by the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT, that stretches about 185km from the Upper Franconian town of Redwitz via Mechlenreuth and Etzenricht to Schwandorf in the Upper Palatinate. After the shutdown of Northeast Bavarian nuclear and conventional power plants, the Ostbayernring primarily transports renewable energies. On several days of the year, more energy is generated by wind turbines and photovoltaic plants in the regions along the East Bavarian Ring than is needed locally. Due to the resulting increase in the amount of renewable energy fed into the grid, the East Bavarian Ring regularly reaches its capacity limits.

To ensure the security of supply and the reliability of the grid and to prevent grid failures for the entire region of Upper Franconia and Upper Palatinate, the transmission capacities of the East Bavarian Ring need to be significantly improved. A replacement construction for the East Bavarian Ring was therefore included in the German Federal Requirements Plan and the urgency of the project for the energy market was legally determined. The new line is being constructed along the existing route, extending the current 380/220kV systems to two 380kV systems.

In the course of the construction of the new East Bavarian Ring and the related grid reinforcement, the Redwitz, Mechlenreuth, Etzenricht and Schwandorf substations of the TSCNET shareholder are also being upgraded. Now the first pylon of the new Ostbayerring has been erected on the site of the Etzenricht substation. TenneT has captured the construction on film in order to give a well-founded impression of the erection process.

The first pylon of the new East Bavarian Ring of TenneT has been erected (picture: TenneT / screenshot taken from TenneT-video “TenneT Ostbayernring: Der Projektleiter stellt sich vor”, YouTube)

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€215m for green connection capacity

11.10.2019

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT plans to invest a further €215m to connect two GW of green electricity from solar and wind farms in the north of the Netherlands to the grid. The infrastructural measures include the construction of two new 380/110kV high-voltage substations in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe. In addition, the TSCNET shareholder intends to provide extra capacity at nine existing 110kV substations in the northern Netherlands.

One GW corresponds roughly to the output of 3.5 million solar modules or 200 wind turbines. The additional capacity planned by the TSO is therefore considerable, but according to Ben Voorhorst, COO of the TSO, as many solar and wind farm transmission requests as possible should be complied with. Already now TenneT operates projects in the northern Netherlands with a volume of more than €1bn. This level of investment is now being further increased, with the TSO focusing strongly on the sustainability and efficiency of the investments. “The better the capacity expansions of electricity grids are actually utilised, the better the consumer’s money is spent,” explains Voorhorst.

TenneT invests €215m in the connection of renewable energies in the northern Netherlands (picture: TenneT)

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Approval for upgrade of Weinviertel line

12.11.2018

Transparent and comprehensible planning, extensive information for communities, landowners and residents, and the sustainable consideration of environmental interests – the efforts of the Austrian TSCNET shareholder APG have paid off: The national transmission system operator (TSO) has been validly approved to modernise and upgrade the overhead line through the Weinviertel (“wine quarter”) in the northeast of Lower Austria. APG is investing €200m in the project and construction will start in summer 2019.

The increase in capacity of the more than 70-year-old line from 220kV to mostly 380kV is to be accompanied by the bundling of infrastructure, which results in a reduction of 15km of line and 53 pylons and thus relieves the population and nature reserves. In addition, the new line will be connected to the regional distribution grid via a new substation to be built in Neusiedl/Zaya. This will significantly improve the quality of the electricity supply in the Weinviertel and is a precondition for the further integration of wind and solar energy in Lower Austria.

Dr. Ulrike Baumgartner-Gabitzer, CEO of APG, comments on the approval: “We are happy about this result as a consequence of a very transparent process involving all parties concerned.” Gerhard Christiner, CTO of the TSO, emphasises the importance of the upgrade both for supply security as well as the integration of renewables and adds: “The Weinviertel line is an essential component for the realisation of the energy and climate strategy #mission 2030 adopted by the Austrian Federal Government.”

APG has received approval to upgrade the Weinviertel line in Lower Austria (picture: photo composition)

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Austrian research on battery based balancing

17.05.2018

The energy transition makes every market participant consider how to adapt to the rapidly changing conditions within the energy sector. Among other things, this means for the electric transmission system operators (TSOs) to respond to the weather dependence and thus volatility of the wind and solar energy generation. Dr. Ulrike Baumgartner-Gabitzer, CEO of the Austrian TSCNET shareholder APG, specifies the relating strategy of the TSO: “As APG we try to meet these challenges with the search for technological innovations.”

The modernisation and extension of the grid is undoubtedly of great importance, but TSOs need to think beyond that. Electricity grids increasingly require highly dynamic system elements that can compensate for short-term frequency deviations. In this context, storage technologies to stabilise the power grid are worthy of profound consideration. For this reason, together with the Austrian Institute of Technology, the Vienna Technical University and three subsidaries of Verbund, Austria‘s largest electricity provider, APG has launched a technology-neutral research project on battery-based balancing solutions: “Advanced Balancing Services for Transmission System Operators”, short ABS4TSOS.

The name similarity to the vehicle assistance system ABS (Anti-lock braking system) is by no means a coincidence. ABS4TSOS aims at automatic support systems and new mechanisms for the operation of the grid, which contribute to the maintenance of frequency stability and are therefore somewhat analogous to ABS. This includes all possible applications of a battery storage system in order to increase supply security. “ABS4TSO will address the question, in which way storage technologies can contribute to stabilising the grid in the future,” comments Dr. Baumgartner-Gabitzer.

In June 2019, the operation of the specifically designed battery storage system will commence at APG‘s substation Wien Südost. Subsequently, system functions and possibilities will be thoroughly examined. The project runs until the end of April 2021 and is endowed with €2.6m, which are borne by the project partners and the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund.

> See APG press release, in German (html)

Picture: APG

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Solar data for the digital energy transition

21.03.2018

A comprehensive data supply is a prerequisite for the adequate utilisation of decentralised and volatilely generated electricity, the two basic features of green electricity. Needless to say, that optimised utilisation improves grid stability and supply security, which is why TSCNET shareholder TenneT strengthens its data collection efforts. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has agreed to exchange real-time solar generation data via a control system coupling with a German distribution system operator (DSO) from the Lower Franconian region.

The exchange of generation data in combination with weather data enables the operators to forecast the amount of regional solar energy generation for the next hours and days more accurately. This improves grid-feed-in and network utilisation and reduces operational costs. Lex Hartman, member of TenneT’s executive board, considers the collaboration an “important milestone in the digitisation of power supply”, and concludes: “With this cooperative data exchange, supply security is the winner.”

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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German all-time high of renewable generation

05.11.2017

As reported by the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (Internationales Wirtschaftsforum Regenerative Energien), the October 2017 turned out to be impressively record breaking for the renewables. Based on data from the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), all wind turbines and solar plants in Germany together produced 14.6bn kWh of green electricity: By far the strongest monthly production of renewable energy in Germany ever.

This also means that the share of the renewables in last month’s total German energy production amounted to 44%, while in comparison to October 2016 (7.3bn kWh) the production has doubled. March 2017 (12.5bn kWh) had previously been the strongest month for sustainable electricity. The lion’s share of the generation is contributed by wind energy (12.5bn kWh of which 2.2bn kWh come from offshore facilities). Thus, wind energy has set a new record in its own right and has beat the old one from December 2015 (11.7bn kWh).

The autumnal record figures have been supported by the continous expansion of wind energy in general as well as by favourable weather conditions during the specific month. In that respect, the two autumn storms Xavier and Herwart are to be mentioned first and foremost. However, the German consumption centers still are usually to be found in a great distance from the regenerative production locations. Hence, it goes without saying that the impressive numbers can by no means establish a sustainable development, if the grid extension in Germany fails to keep up with the growing share of renewables. The German and neighbouring transmission system operators (TSOs) are ready and willing to do their stint, but they need regulatory assistance from politics and competent authorities.

> See IWR press release, in German (html)

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