First pylon of new East Bavarian Ring erected


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)

> See TenneT tweet, in German (html)
> Watch video of the pylon construction (YouTube)

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€215m for green connection capacity


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)

> See TenneT press release (html)

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Approval for upgrade of Weinviertel line


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)

> See APG press release, in German (html)

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Austrian research on battery based balancing


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


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


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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TransnetBW to establish monitoring network


The combined power capacity of all the operational photovolatic systems in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg amounts to about 5,200MW. This means, already now the sun is the largest “power station” in the south-west of Germany, which is the control area of TSC member TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). However, solar power generation depends on time of day or weather and TransnetBW strives to optimise the feed-in of solar electricity into its transmission grid.

For this reason, the TSO cooperates with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE) in implementing a comprehensive monitoring network for photovoltaic production. From mid-2017 onwards, specially developed measuring stations will be distributed throughout Baden-Württemberg. These stations will transmit at frequent intervals and in real-time the measured values of global radiation, generation power, and air temperature to TransnetBW. In order to receive the best possible range of information on the current solar generation potential and the respective feed-in options, these measurements will be collated with processed raster data from the Meteosat weather satellite.

The project partners are planning nothing less than the most efficient and densest measuring network for photovoltaic production to date – all for the benefit of future grid stability and supply security. According to Dr. Philipp Guthke, TransnetBW’s expert for prognosis and extrapolations, high-precision calculations and immediate forecasts are of high importance in that respect. Apart from this, the prospect to market renewable electricity in a more accurate way, is most promising for any TSO. “At the same time, possible network-critical situations can be recognised quickly and countermeasures can be taken,” concludes Mr Guthke.

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

Picture: TransnetBW


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Collaboration for better solar data


While the share of renewable energies in power generation grows rapidly, TSC member TenneT Germany, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), partners up with SMA Solar Technology, an international specialist for photovoltaic system technology with more than 3,500 employees. The two companies signed a contract for the provision of current performance data from photovoltaic systems. The goal is to improve solar power feed-in-predictions to better integrate solar energy into the utility grid. For the first time ever, a TSO now can receive solar power generation data directly.

> See TenneT Germany press release (html)

Picture: SMA Solar Technology

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Successful with modest changes


“Germany has so far managed to integrate and balance high shares of renewable energy with very modest changes to its power system,” says Eric Martinot, Professor at Beijing Institute of Technology and renowned international energy authority, in his article for, an experts’ blog about the German Energy Transition (“Energiewende”). Martinot describes quite detailed, which technical and regulatory changes allowed Germany’s power grid to “remain highly reliable” with renewables providing 30 % of the country’s electriticy demand.

> See “How is Germany integrating and balancing renewable energy today?” (html)


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