Germany’s first hybrid Statcom facility in operation

27.01.2020

Since January 24, Germany’s first hybrid static synchronous compensator (Statcom) system is connected to the power grid. For about two years, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has been modernising its long-established substation in Borken, in the German state of Hesse, practically at the centre of the German transmission system. The heart of the conversion work was the installation of the Statcom system. Due to the limited space available at the site, TenneT decided to build the Statcom system in hybrid construction, thus reducing the additional space requirement to less than one hectare.

With the high-performance technology in operation, TenneT uses the historic substation in Borken, which boasts a tradition of almost a hundred years, for a task that will contribute significantly to the success of the energy transition: the provision of dynamic voltage support and reactive power to compensate for the decreasing capacities previously provided by large power plants that are being successively shut down. The TSO invested around €30m in the Borken substation, that now has become one of the most modern hubs for green power in the German grid.

Last Friday, Axel Schomberg, Head of TenneT Grid Operations, together with high representatives of local politics, officially commissioned the Statcom system, underlining the significance of the facility for the energy transition. In combination with the numerous other reactive power compensation systems operated in the 129 German TenneT substations, including compensation coils, MSCDN systems and the first rotating phase shifter in the German power grid at the time of installation, the Statcom system contributes to the static reactive power supply.

TenneT has commissioned Germany’s first hybrid Statcom system (picture: TenneT)

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Swissgrid and hydropower storage plants agree on minimum production

20.12.2019

To avoid an overload of grid elements in western Switzerland during the winter holidays, TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO), has agreed upon a minimum production with selected regional hydropower storage plants. This is intended to reduce the potential increased and costly need for redispatch during these low-consumption days.

The measure is also necessary because the availability of the transformer at the Bassecourt substation in the canton of Jura is currently limited and the new transformer at Mühleberg in the canton of Berne has not yet been fully installed. Both projects will be implemented in spring 2020. The agreed minimum production in the period from 20 December 2019 to 6 January 2020 is 200MW (off-peak) and 400MW (peak).

Swissgrid has negotiated minimum production from hydropower storage plants

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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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GIS with Clean Air technology for Daxlanden

14.11.2019

In present-day gas-insulated high-voltage systems, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is commonly used as insulating gas. It has excellent electrical and chemical properties, but also a strong greenhouse effect. For reasons of climate protection, TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), focuses on eco-efficient technical concepts. In November last year, the TSCNET shareholder launched a pilot project at its substation in Obermooweiler, northeast of Lake Constance, with the world’s first gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) at extra-high voltage level using a climate-friendly alternative gas technology.

TransnetBW has now commissioned the new construction of the switchgear for the 380kV substation in Daxlanden near Karlsruhe, where the existing open-air facility will be replaced by two new GIS. Here, the TSO has opted for the so-called Clean Air technology, which exclusively uses processed air as an insulating medium instead of SF6. This significantly reduces the greenhouse effect of the entire switchgear system. The new GIS facilities will be built and commissioned gradually over the next few years and the existing open-air installation will be dismantled during ongoing operation.

The Daxlanden substation is an important network node in TransnetBW’s transmission grid and the central link between two grid construction projects from the German national Grid Development Plan for electricity (NEP), which contains essential grid extension projects to realise the energy transition. “A successful energy transition requires an efficient and future-proof transmission grid,” explains Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “The more we are pleased to be able to make an additional contribution to the environment and climate protection by using the innovative Clean Air technology in Daxlanden.”

TransnetBW will build two GIS with Clean Air technology in the substation Daxlanden (computer simulation of the reconstructed Daxlanden substation: TransnetBW)

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New Amprion phase shifter in operation

06.11.2019

The German transmission system operators (TSOs) have to react with innovative technology to the changes in the German energy landscape caused by the shutdown of nuclear and other large power plants in the course of the energy transition. An important issue is the loss of reactive power, and an appropriate technological response are rotating phase shifters, which are highly efficient and flexible in the provision of reactive power to maintain voltage.

TSCNET shareholder Amprion has now commissioned such a high-performance system at its Illingen-Uchtelfangen substation in the German federal state of Saarland. It is the second rotating phase shifter in the Amprion grid after the TSO commissioned the first one in September 2018 in Oberottmarshausen (Bavarian Swabia). Amprion has invested €60m in the new state-of-the-art equipment, which keeps the transmission grid stable and thus further increases supply security in Saarland.

The commissioning ceremony was attended by Anke Rehlinger, Saarland Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour, Energy and Transport. Together with Amprion Managing Director Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, General Manager of GE Grid Solutions Gerhard Seyrling and representatives of district and municipal politics, she pressed the “red button”, which symbolically put the facility into operation. Mrs Rehlinger commented on the new device: “Against the backdrop of the energy transition, grid stability and security of supply are becoming increasingly important. With the installation of the rotating phase shifter, Amprion is making an important contribution to the future of power transmission grids.”

Amprion has commissioned a new rotating phase shifter at the Illingen-Uchtelfangen substation (picture: Amprion;  Amprion CTO Klaus Kleinekorte and Saarland Minister Anke Rehlinger in the middle)

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Two transformers reach Garenfeld

05.11.2019

The last weekend was literally “heavy” for TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Not one but two 276-tonne transformers were transported to Amprion’s Garenfeld substation in Hagen in North Rhine-Westphalia. It took both days of the weekend for the 30 kilometre stretch from the railway station to the substation. The special road transport units each had a total length of around 80 metres and together with the transformer each weighed 519 tonnes.

About 40 employees from various companies were involved in the transport during the two nights. At the end of August, the first of a total of five transformers had already been delivered to the substation. Amprion is currently planning to move the last two transformers to Garenfeld at the end of November.

Two transformers have been delivered to the Garenfeld substation operated by Amprion (picture: Amprion)

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> See last week’s announcement press release, in German (html)
> See Amprion tweet, in German (html)

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Ernen-Ulrichen 380kV line in operation

21.10.2019

With the erection of the last of a total of 57 pylons, the new extra-high voltage line between the Ernen and Ulrichen substations in the Swiss canton of Valais has now been completed. The 30-kilometre section is part of the 380kV Mörel-Ulrichen line project of TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO). The line upgrade in the Rhône Valley is vital for the future of Switzerland’s energy supply: In order to fully transfer the hydropower generated in the Valais to the urban areas of Switzerland, the lines of the south-western canton must be connected to the supra-regional 380kV transmission grid, particularly in view of the commissioning of the new Nant de Drance pumped storage power station, scheduled for 2020.

The existing 220kV overhead line between Ernen and Ulrichen is already disconnected. Its 177 pylons will be dismantled from spring 2020 and the former pylon locations will be recultivated. Swissgrid is additionally carrying out nature conservation projects of national importance in the vicinity of the new line. Also starting next year, the Swiss TSO will continue its Valais upgrade project with the new construction of the next section between Ernen and Mörel-Filet, which is expected to be commissioned as 380kV line by the end of 2022.

Swissgrid has commissioned the new 380kV line between Ernen-Ulrichen (picture: Swissgrid)

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Delay for the Bassecourt-Mühleberg line upgrade

07.10.2019

With the decommissioning of the Mühleberg nuclear power plant in the canton of Bern at the end of 2019, part of Switzerland’s energy production in the central Swiss Plateau will cease. In the medium term, this shortage will have to be offset by higher production from Swiss power plants or by energy imports from abroad. This is particularly important in winter, when Switzerland is dependent on additional energy imports.

TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO), is therefore upgrading the Bassecourt-Mühleberg power line from 220kV to 380kV and equipping the Mühleberg substation with a new 380/220kV transformer to ensure security of supply in the greater Bern area and the entire central region of the Swiss Plateau. The modernisation of the line will require adjustments to 54 of a total of 142 existing pylons and will not affect the landscape. Both upgrade measures are part of the “Strategic Grid 2025”, Swissgrid’s ambitious grid modernisation and expansion plan.

While the installation work for the new transformer in Mühleberg continues, a delay of two years in the voltage increase of the Bassecourt-Mühleberg line is expected due to legal complaints against the line upgrade. In August, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy approved the line upgrade and rejected the objections, which mainly concerned the exposure to magnetic fields and noise or the need to relocate the line or to use underground cables. Various complainants have now appealed against this decision of the Federal Office to the Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland, thus preventing further progress.

The upgrading of the Bassecourt-Mühleberg power line by Swissgrid will be delayed (picture: Swissgrid)

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Reconstruction start at TransnetBW substation

18.09.2019

On September 18, TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), started the conversion of its substation in Schwörstadt with a symbolic cut of the spade. The construction site is located in the furthest southwest of the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg near the Swiss border. The upgrade provides the technical basis for connecting the substation to the 380kV extra-high voltage grid.

Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, referred at the groundbreaking ceremony to the steadily increasing share of renewables in the electricity mix, which confronts TSOs with maintaining voltage at a stable level despite the changing wind and weather conditions. “We are preparing the substation for the requirements of the energy transition and thus are also strengthening supply security in the Upper Rhine region.”

The reconstruction of the substation’s switchgear will be carried out in two stages, starting with the dismantling of the operations building and the switch panels of the existing 220kV switchgear. By 2021, the new 380kV switchgear will have been installed. The new device will initially be operated at 220kV before being connected to the 380kV grid in 2023. This implies that at the same time and section by section, the corresponding power lines will also be upgraded to 380kV.

TransnetBW starts conversion of the Schwörstadt substation (picture: TransnetBW; from left to right: Olaf Jungnitsch of GE Grid; Uli Glich, Project Manager Substations at TransnetBW; Christine Trautwein-Domschat, Mayor of Schwörstadt; Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board; Thorsten Schwarz, Managing Director GE Grid; Bernd Jauch, Head of Technology, Projects and Portfolio Management at TransnetBW)

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ČEPS half-year report: Profits support infrastructure

16.09.2019

In 2019, the Czech transmission system operator (TSO) ČEPS continues its extensive infrastructure investment programme to ensure that the development of the Czech transmission system meets the increasing demands of the rapidly changing energy sector. The profits now presented in the company’s half-year report facilitate these efforts considerably.

The TSCNET shareholder concluded the first half of 2019 with a pre-tax profit of CZK 2.3bn (about €88.84m) and a total revenue of CZK 11,903bn (about €460m), an increase of CZK 1,54bn in comparison to the same period in 2018. “Cross-border auctions account for 38% of revenues,” explains Martin Durčák, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ČEPS. As far as the TSO core business is concerned, a total of 32,760GWh was transferred in the first half of 2019.

An important infrastructure project completed in July 2019 is the connection of the Řeporyje-Prosenice line to the Mírovka substation. The branching of this almost 300km long line, which connects the periphery of Prague with the Olomouc region in the east of the country, will increase the safety and reliability of the Czech transmission grid. Other significant investment measures already implemented this year include the construction of the new Přeštice-Vítkov line linking the Plzeň to the Moravian-Silesian Region. In Vítkov, a new 420kV substation with a gas-insulated switchgear was installed to complement the new line construction.

ČEPS reports positive figures for the first half of the 2019 business year (picture showing Prague, Czechia: JÉSHOOTS)

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