TenneT to build compensatory gas power plant


The successive shutdown of nuclear or emission-intensive large-scale power plants is an integral part of the energy transition in Germany. In order not to compromise the national energy supply security, the German legislator provides for special grid facilities that should not serve the market constantly but be available as a “safety buffer” on short notice and at any time when the power system reliability is at risk. TSCNET shareholder TenneT is facing up to this task of the energy future and plans to commission such a special grid facility in the form of a 300MW gas power plant on the site of the Irsching substation near Ingolstadt in the German state of Bavaria.

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) now has awarded the contract for the construction and operation of the plant to the energy company Uniper. Probably from 1 October 2022, the power plant will be on stand-by to serve as a “safety cushion” by supplying power in emergency cases. The new gas power plant can be immediately activated in order to maintain transmission system safety and the current level of reliability of the electricity supply also in the future.

From the end of June 2018, TenneT, together with the German TSOs Amprion and TransnetBW, has put out to tender a total of 1,200MW of capacity for special grid facilities Europe-wide and non-technology-specific. The tender covers four regions in southern Germany, each with a capacity of 300MW. For one of these regions, in this case southern Bavaria, TenneT has now awarded the first special grid facility contract.

TenneT has awarded a contract for a compensatory gas power plant at the Irsching substation (picture: Uniper SE) 

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Transformer for TenneT’s hybrid Statcom facility


Right on time for Christmas 2018, a heavy-duty train loaded with a 299-tonne transformer built by ABB reached the Borken substation operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). Here at the long-established substation site in Borken in the German state of Hesse, practically in the middle of the German power system, the TSO is currently building the first German hybrid static synchronous compensator system (Statcom). In order to efficiently connect the Statcom system, which will later be operated at 40kV, to the existing extra-high voltage grid, a so-called impedance matching transformer is required.

The hybrid Statcom facility will provide reactive power as compensation for the declining capacities previously provided by large power plants, which are now being successively taken off the grid in the course of the energy transition. In the three-phase transmission system, the reactive power must be in balance with the active power in order to maintain the grid’s voltage at the required level. That is why reactive power compensation is a priority task for the German TSOs.

On the morning of 8 January 2019, the foundations of the transformer will be laid in front of the Statcom plant which is currently under construction. It will then take around three months before the matching transformer is operational. The entire Statcom system is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2019. In Borken, TenneT is investing around €30m in future-proof grid operation. Germany’s first hybrid Statcom system will then not only contribute to dynamic voltage stabilisation, but the entire Borken substation will also become one of the most modern hubs for green power in the TenneT grid.

TenneT has been supplied with a matching HDVC transformer for its hybrid Statcom facility at the Borken substation (picture: ABB)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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New transformer for Laufenburg substation


The Laufenburg substation in the Swiss canton of Aargau is not only one of the largest substations in Europe connecting the electrical systems of several countries, but also the birthplace of the European integrated network operation: In 1958, the “Star of Laufenburg” was put into operation as the first interconnection of the French, German and Swiss electricity grids. TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid is now upgrading the substation so that it can continue to guarantee regional and supraregional security of supply also in the future. With this upgrade, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) is implementing an important part of its grid modernisation and expansion plan, the so-called “Strategic Grid 2025”.

Already in 2017, the old 220kV outdoor switchgear in Laufenburg was replaced by a gas-insulated unit. The by now outdated transformer from 1966 is currently also being replaced, increasing the transformer capacity of the substation from 600MVA to 800MVA. The new 380/220kV transformer was manufactured in the Siemens plant in Weiz in the eastern part of the Austrian state of Styria and shipped from there to the Rhine port of Muttenz near Basel. The subsequent delivery of all individual parts of the device from the port to Laufenburg took around three weeks. The four poles of the transformer, each weighing about 200 tonnes, were moved individually on a special road transportation unit with twenty axes. At the same time, sixteen trucks brought additional material for the installation of the transformer to Laufenburg.

The new transformer will be installed with concrete walls surrounding each pole providing space for the connections of all poles, of which only three will be in operation simultaneously. Thanks to the installed connections, the reserve pole can be put into operation at short notice. Replacement of an active pole by a reserve pole is planned at five-year intervals, which will significantly increase the transformer’s lifespan. The commissioning of the new equipment is scheduled for mid-2019.

Swissgrid installs new 800MVA transformer at the Laufenburg substation in the canton of Aargau (picture: Swissgrid)

> See Swissgrid news release (html)
> Watch video of the transport on Swissgrid’s YouTube channel (“Transport eines Giganten”, in German with English subtitles)

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Direct coupling transformer for Upper Franconia


The Ostbayernring power line from Upper Franconia to Upper Palatinate in the German state of Bavaria regularly reaches its limits due to the increasing feed-in of renewable energy. The transmission capacity of the Ostbayerring must therefore be significantly increased in order to guarantee future security of supply and grid stability. For this purpose, a highly efficient replacement construction is planned along the existing route. In the context of this Ostbayernring upgrade, also the Mechlenreuth substation in Münchberg is being renewed and expanded since spring 2018.

The substation is operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). It is a central hub for regional and supra-regional energy supply, as here the existing and in future the new Ostbayerring is connected to the subordinate 110 kV level of the distribution grid. The modernisation of the substation is making great progress: On 11 October 2018, a heavy-load rail transport system delivers a new direct coupling transformer with a transport weight of 254t to Mechlenreuth.

The 300MVA transformer is scheduled to go into operation in April 2019. Like the Ostbayernring itself, the substation cannot be switched off completely for a longer period of time in order to guarantee constant power supply. All the particular components will therefore be individually dismantled, newly erected and put back into operation in several construction phases and  during ongoing operation. The modification of the entire Mechlenreuth plant should be completed in 2023.

TenneT expects the delivery of a direct coupling transformer to the Ostbayernring substation in Mechlenreuth (picture of a previous transformer transport: TenneT)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Dutch recovery facility ready for operation


Although it is most unlikely that there will ever be a complete power outage in the Netherlands, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the German-Dutch transmission system operator (TSO), wants to be prepared even for such an unimaginable scenario and thus also fulfil European agreements. For these reasons, a new recovery facility for the high-voltage grid was put into operation at the gas-fired Enecogen power plant in the Rotterdam-Europoort area.

In the event of a total blackout, the Dutch power plants will have to be reactivated, which is exactly the task of the new equipment. Like an enormous starter motor, the system ‒ consisting of an emergency generator and a gas turbine ‒ switches the Rotterdam power station back on. Then the rest of the power supply, be it other large-scale plants, solar or wind farms, is connected back to the grid step by step in order to quickly reactivate the national transmission system.

The Enecogen recovery facility is the third emergency system contracted by TenneT in the Netherlands. With comparable units in the north and centre of the country, the new “starter of the south” now completes the TSO’s emergency and recovery concept for total power failures.

In the port of Rotterdam, a new recovery facility for outages in the Dutch transmission grid was commissioned on behalf of TenneT (Picture: TenneT)

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Official opening of substation in Ticino


The commissioning of the modernised Avegno substation in the district of Vallemaggia in the Swiss canton of Ticino is a landmark achievement for TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO): “Since Swissgrid took over the Swiss transmission grid in 2013, it has been the first substation project to be fully implemented by the national grid company,” explains Maurice Dierick, Head of Grid at Swissgrid.

The Avegno substation is an important hub of the Swiss transmission network, both regionally and nationally. In addition, it connects the Verbano hydropower plant to the national extra-high voltage grid. Construction work at Avegno began in October 2016 and will be completed by the end of November with the dismantling of the old 220kV open air switchgear. Already in April 2018, the new gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) was connected to the grid. All in all, Swissgrid has invested CHF17m (almost €15m) in the modernisation of Avegno.

Swissgrid has opened the new Avegno substation, equipped with a gas-insulated switchgear (picture: Swissgrid)

> See Swissgrid media release, in German (html)

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Transformer transport to Hardegsen substation


The Hardegsen substation operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is one of the central power hubs in the southern part of the German federal state of Lower Saxony. But the substation is also of supra-regional importance, as it will serve to connect the Wahle-Mecklar line currently under construction with the local distribution grids.

With a total length of 230 kilometres, the 380kV line from Wahle in Lower Saxony to Mecklar in the state of Hesse is one of the largest power line projects in Germany and belongs to those construction schemes that are essential for increasing the capacity to transmit green electricity from the main generation sites in the north to the consumption centres in the south of the country.

To meet regional and supra-regional uses, the 220kV station will be prepared for 380kV operation and equipped with a total of three transformers capable of spanning between the 380kV and 110kV levels and also between 220kV and 110kV. From 2 to 3 October 2018, the second 287-tonne transformer will be delivered to Hardegsen with a heavy-duty road transportation unit of around 53 metres in length and a total weight of 491 tonnes. The subsequent assembly of the 300MVA transformer at the substation is expected to take three months.

TenneT is supplied with the second of a total of three new transformers for the Hardegsen substation in Lower Saxony (picture: TenneT)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Commissioning of phase-shifter at Amprion substation


The four German transmission system operators (TSOs) must react sustainably and future-oriented to the changes in the German energy landscape caused by the shutdown of nuclear and other large-scale power plants in the course of the energy transition. A major issue in this respect is the loss of reactive power and an appropriate technological response is provided by phase-shifters. Rotating phase-shifters are highly efficient and flexible reactive power systems for voltage maintenance to compensate the declining reactive power capacities from large plants.

For this reason, TSCNET shareholder Amprion has equipped its Oberottmarshausen substation with a new controllable rotating phase-shifter and the associated transformer. The substation near Augsburg is an important interface between the transnational 380kV grid and the regional grids. Amprion has been modernising the facility since 2016, and the new, state-of-the-art equipment is the centrepiece of the upgraded substation. The work was carried out in stages during ongoing operation and will be completed this year. Amprion is investing a total of around €65m in the expansion and modernisation of Oberottmarshausen.

On 11 September, Dr. Ulrike Wolf, Deputy Head of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology, Ralf Christian, CEO Division Energy Management at Siemens, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, jointly pressed the symbolic button for the official commissioning of the phase-shifter. Mr Kleinekorte explains the importance of the phase-shifter, that enables Amprion to precisely regulate the voltage in its own transmission system as well as in the subordinate distribution grids. “Voltage maintenance is an important element of grid stability, which we continue to guarantee for the citizens and the economy of Bavarian Swabia and in our entire network area.”

From left to right: Ralf Christian, CEO Division Energy Management at Siemens, MDirig. Dr. Ulrike Wolf, Deputy Head of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion (picture: Amprion)

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Second transformer for Pleinting substation


The substation in Pleinting near Vilshofen is one of the central hubs of the Lower Bavarian power supply, for which TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is responsible. Also in terms of the energy transition and cross-border electricity exchange, the substation close to the Austro-German border is significant. This applies in particular to the transmission of surplus electricity from Lower Bavarian solar power generation and for the connection of Austrian pump storage power plants to the German grid.

A total of three new transformers will be installed in Pleinting, the first of which was delivered already in February 2017. The second transformer, manufactured in the Dutch town of Nijmegen, now has arrived at a nearby train station. On 6 August, the 286-tonne transformer will be delivered to the substation with a heavy-duty road transportation unit of around 45 meters in length and a total weight of 500 tonnes. The following assembly work at the substation will probably take three months.

After commissioning, the transformer will have an operating weight of 417 tonnes. It also offers an extended scope of possible applications, as it can be switched over on the high-voltage side. This means that the transformer works between the 380kV and 110kV voltage levels as well as between 220kV and 110kV. Thus it can immediately be integrated into the existing 220kV systems of the Pleinting-Pirach power line. After the completion of the planned 380kV Pleinting-Pirach line, the transformer will subsequently supply the region on this higher voltage level. By 2020, all modernisation and extension works in an around Pleinting are expected to be completed.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT is supplied with the second of a total of three new transformers for the Pleinting substation (picture of a previous transformer transport: TenneT / Screenshot taken from video “TenneT Trafo Schwertransport”, YouTube)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Groundbreaking ceremony at Ultranet substation


In June 2017, TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), applied for building permit for a new gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) at its substation on the grounds of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg. One year later, the TSO has celebrated the start of construction with a symbolic turning of the first sod. The GIS replaces the existing open-air switchgear. One of the reasons why it is the technology of choice, is the system’s little space requirement ‒ it takes up only a fifth of the area of the open-air switchgear.

In Philippsburg, the supra-regional DC line Ultranet will be connected to TransnetBW’s regional 380kV grid. This makes the substation one of the most significant power hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape. Ultranet is a joint venture of TransnetBW and further TSCNET shareholder Amprion and destined to transfer renewable (primarily wind) energy from the northwest of the country to the industrially highly developed southwest. The GIS complements the new Ultranet converter, which is also to be built on the plant site. This device will convert the Ultranet DC into AC, which will then be fed into the transmission system by the GIS.

Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, referred to the Philippsburg upgrade as “central component” of the supply security in times of the energy transition. The reconstruction measures will “ensure that the electricity generated in the north reaches the local consumers safely”. According to the current state of planning, the GIS will be commissioned in 2021.

Picture by TransnetBW (from left to right: Norman Weber, Subproject Manager Ultranet at TransnetBW, Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, Stefan Martus, Mayor of Philippsburg, Dr. Martin Schumacher, Boardmember ABB AG, Joachim Schneider, Head of District Adminstration Karlsruhe, Klaus Kaufmann, Project Manager ABB)

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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