First Borssele cable ashore


Last weekend, the first submarine cable from the Borssele Alpha transformer platform landed on the Dutch coast, marking a significant progress in connecting the Borssele offshore wind farm area in the southwest part of the Dutch North Sea to the onshore high-voltage grid of TSCNET shareholder TenneT. The Borssele grid connection is the first large-scale project of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) carried out under the Dutch National Energy Agreement for offshore wind farms.

The last section of the cable laying was quite critical due to the crossing of a ferry route, but during the closure of the shipping traffic everything went according to plan. After the landing of the submarine cable, its installation was continued ashore up to the newly constructed onshore transformer substation. In the coming weeks preparations will be made to connect the second submarine cable for the Borssele Alpha project to the transformer station.

The first submarine cable of the Borssele grid connection of TenneT has reached the coast (picture: TenneT)

> See TenneT press release (html)

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Ostwind 1 in full operation


Among the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), 50Hertz is mainly responsible for the onshore connection of wind farms in the German Baltic Sea. The Ostwind 1 project of the TSCNET shareholder for connecting the Arkona and Viking wind farms in the “Westlich Adlergrund” cluster in the Baltic Sea near the island of Rügen to the onshore grid has now been finalised – after a construction period of three years and on time for the commissioning of the two wind farms. With a total investment volume of around €1.3bn, the budget was lower than anticipated.

Initial operation of Wikinger took place in autumn 2018, and on 16 April 2019, Arkona was also officially commissioned. Not only is Arkona the largest wind farm in the Baltic Sea, supplying the equivalent of around 400,000 households with electricity, but also its onshore connection sets new standards: Ostwind 1 is the first grid connection in the Baltic Sea with 220kV three-phase current technology to allow a higher transmission capacity. The submarine cables of Ostwind 1 end at the Lubmin onshore substation in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the current is converted to 380kV and fed into the 50Hertz transmission system.

As Arkona is operated by the German company E.ON in cooperation with the Norwegian company Equinor, the official inauguration ceremony in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Kjell-Børge Freiberg. On the occasion of the celebration, Dr. Frank Golletz, CEO of 50Hertz, commented on the Ostwind 1 converter platform and the exemplary collaboration during its construction: “This offshore platform has set a new standard. The good European cooperation will also be continued in the operation of the wind farm.”

With the official commissioning of the Arkona wind farm, the Ostwind 1 grid connection by 50Hertz has been completed (picture: Eskil Eriksen / Equinor ASA)

> See 50Hertz 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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Preparations for market inclusion of COBRAcable


COBRAcable will be the first direct link between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands. It is a joint project of the two transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders Energinet from Denmark and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. By increasing the exchange of surplus wind energy, the DC interconnector is to improve the cohesion of the European transmission system and the integration of the electricity market. COBRAcable also makes a sustainable contribution to the low-carbon energy future by providing the opportunity to hook up future North Sea offshore wind farms to the connection. The entire cable route comprises 329km, of which 307km are offshore and 22km onshore. Since two cables are laid in parallel, the total length of the cables is 658km.

COBRAcable reached the Dutch shore at the Eemshaven connection point in November 2018 and will be commissioned this year. Now the two TSOs are preparing the commercial operation of COBRAcable scheduled for the third quarter of 2019. The concrete measures are the inclusion of COBRAcable in the day ahead and intraday market coupling systems on 16 April 2019 and in the market coupling results on the following day, each with an allocated capacity of zero. The objective of this is to test the relevant IT systems and prepare for a successful launch of commercial operations later in the year.

Energinet and Tennet carry out a test inclusion of COBRAcable in the market coupling (picture: screenshot taken from video “COBRAcable kommer i land ved Eemshaven”, Energinet – Vimeo)

> See Energinet press release (html)

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Successful test for the Combined Grid Solution


The Combined Grid Solution is a joint offshore connection project by the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and the Danish TSO Energinet. The binational interconnector in the Baltic Sea will integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany by linking the German wind farm Baltic 2 to the Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak. The utilisation of grid connections from offshore wind farms to couple the transmission grids of two countries is nothing less than a world premiere.

The laying of the two submarine cables “150kV-line KFE-BaZ 155“ and “150kV-line KFE-BaZ 156“ was completed at the beginning of July and the two TSOs have now successfully conducted 24-hour testing of both cables. Around noon on 6 November and in the afternoon thereafter, the two cables were energised one after the other up to the disconnector on the offshore substation OSS KFE and now are ready to transport electricity. Sebastian Wagner, Sub-Project Manager Sea cables at 50Hertz, and Energinet’s Project Manager Daniel Johan Brøndum jointly declared: “Everyone in the team worked closely together and delivered to-the-point. We are very happy and celebrate this success together.”

The submarine cables for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution of 50Hertz and Energinet were successfully tested (illustration based on pictures of 50Hertz / Sebastian Wagner)

> See 50Hertz project news (html)
> See Energinet project news (html)

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First partial feed-in from Arkona wind farm


The Arkona offshore project in the south-eastern part of the “Westlich Adlergrund” wind farm cluster in the Baltic Sea near the German Island of Rügen is in the final stage of construction. In April 2018, the platform topside for the Arkona windfarm was mounted on the platform jackets. In the following months, the topside was further equipped, tested and prepared for operation. Also the corresponding grid connection, Ostwind 1, has made great progress and has now been partially implemented by TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs).

After its completion, Ostwind 1 will transmit the converted electricity from the wind turbines via a 220kV submarine cable to the Lubmin onshore transformer station in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. With the realisation of the first partial feed from Arkona during the construction phase of Ostwind 1, the development of the entire connection project is fully on schedule. Currently, 50Hertz is carrying out the remaining work along the cable route to the Arkona platform by laying another submarine cable.

With the first partial feed-in of electricity from the Arkona wind farm, 50Hertz is further advancing the Ostwind 1 offshore connection (picture: Equinor)

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BorWin gamma embarks on its journey to the North Sea


From Dubai around the Arabian Peninsula, through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, past Gibraltar into the Atlantic Ocean and from there further north into the western German Bight of the North Sea – it is truly a long journey that the 18,000-ton topside of the offshore converter platform BorWin gamma has embarked on. BorWin gamma is a core component of the offshore grid connection BorWin3, a 900MW connection for two offshore wind farms to be implemented by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO).

Almost exactly three years ago, the construction of the platform began in Dubai, where 10,500t of steel were used – more than for the Eiffel Tower – and 880km of cable were laid inside. Now, 13.5m working hours later, BorWin Gamma is ready for transport and will then be installed on the substructure, the so-called jacket, which was already erected in May. The platform will convert the electricity from the wind turbines into DC in order to bring it to land with as little loss as possible. BorWin gamma is connected via 160km of cable (of which 130km are undersea and 30km underground) to the Emden/Ost onshore converter station in the German state of Lower Saxony. There, the electricity is converted back into AC and fed into the extra-high voltage grid. BorWin3 will go into operation next year and then be able to supply more than 1 million households.

The offshore converter platform BorWin gamma for the BorWin3 connection by the Dutch-German TSO TenneT is ready for transport from Dubai to the North Sea (picture: TenneT)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Visit TenneT BorWin3 Projektblog, in German (html)

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Laying of NordLink cables in the German Bight


About one year after the first kilometres of submarine cables have been laid in the south Norwegian Vollesfjord, the cable work has now also started on the German NordLink side. Over the next few weeks, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), will lay 99km of cable into the Wadden Sea floor. This first section lies between the Büsum dike in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein and the southwest of the island of Sylt.

In 2019, another 55km will be laid in the German offshore area up to the border of Danish territorial waters. There, the cable end will then be connected to the 228km long cable section to be laid in the Danish North Sea area. TenneT’s submarine cable work is carried out in close coordination with nature conservation authorities. The TSO implements the respective requirements of the competent federal and regional agencies, ministries and administrations strictly to ensure that the Wadden Sea National Park is treated as considerately as possible.

The Nordlink high voltage DC interconnector between Germany and Norway will have a capacity of 1,400MW and a total length of 623km. By coupling different renewable energies and storage forms ‒ Norwegian hydropower plants and wind and solar farms from Germany ‒ NordLink is a “green link” in the truest sense of the word. TenneT cooperates in this European Project of Common Interest (PCI) with the Norwegian TSO Statnet.

The laying of sea cables is accompanied by work on the mainland to connect the respective converter stations. The construction of an overhead line on the Norwegian side is expected to be completed in 2019, and on the German mainland, NordLink will be laid as an underground cable between the Büsum dike and the Wilster converter station starting in 2019. Completion of the entire NordLink interconnector is scheduled for 2020.

The Dutch-German TSO TenneT starts laying of submarine cables for the German-Norwegian interconnector NordLink in the German Bight (picture: TenneT)

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Continuing EIB support for NordLink


The Nordlink interconnector between Germany and Norway is a lighthouse project for the European market integration and energy transition. By coupling Norwegian hydropower capacities with renewable energy from Germany, the high voltage DC line with a capacity of 1,400MW and a total length of 624km (516km of which are submarine cables) is in the truest sense of the word a “green link”. The two transmission system operators (TSOs) involved in the European Project of Common Interest (PCI) are TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, and its Norwegian equivalent, Statnett.

The European Commission (EC) as well as the relevant European institutions are highly aware of NordLink’s significance for the future energy infrastructure of the continent. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is funding NordLink since last year and has now reaffirmed its commitment to the project by closing a single investor tap of TenneT’s 2017 hybrid bond. The EIB has purchased €100m hybrid securities. This transaction ‒ incidentally the bank’s first ever stake in a market hybrid bond issuance ‒ is backed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

Maroš Šefčovič, the EC Vice-President for the Energy Union, welcomes EIB’s support for NordLink as a “forward-looking investment into modern energy infrastructure” and identifies the interconnector as a “smart combination of renewable power generation”. EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle assures that “the security of supply and effective use of renewable energy remain high on the agenda for EIB financing”. Mr Fayolle calls NordLink “exactly the type of project the EIB was set up to do sixty years ago”. And also Otto Jager, CFO at TenneT, is very happy with the development of the project: “We are proud that we are the first issuer of a market hybrid bond with the EIB as participant.”

In support of the construction of NordLink, the EIB closes a €100m single investor tap of hybrid bonds issued by TenneT (picture: TenneT)

> See TenneT press release (html)

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Combined Grid Solution: submarine cable installed


In early May, all of the three offshore platforms for the planned Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak in the Baltic Sea were successfully installed. One of them will not only collect wind power, but also function as linking point for the Combined Grid Solution, the first Danish-German offshore interconnector. The Combined Grid Solution is a joint venture of two TSCNET shareholders, 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and the Danish TSO Energinet.

Just two months later, 50Hertz announces that the next significant step for the project has been taken. The Combined Grid Solution will integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany by linking the German wind farm Baltic 2 with 25 kilometres of submarine cables to Kriegers Flak. Now both cables of the interconnector have been laid out completely. The Baltic 2 platform was the starting point for the cable laying, and on 5 July, the Kriegers Flak platform was reached.

Elke Kwapis, project manager at 50Hertz, acknowledges the good cooperation with Energinet in this process and states: “These are great news. In the business everybody knows how complex the installation of submarine cables can become.” Especially in this case, it was even more challenging than usual, because the Baltic 2 platform was constantly in operation during the cable laying.

The submarine cables for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution of the TSOs 50Hertz and Energinet have been laid out. Picture: Screenshot taken from video “Combined Grid Solution (CGS) by 50Hertz and Energinet“ (50Hertz, YouTube)

> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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