Record-setting offshore connection

09.04.2019

The IJmuiden Ver offshore wind farm project in the Dutch sector of the North Sea will be equipped with two onshore connections from 2024 to 2030. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has announced to link the 6.1GW of the new offshore wind farms to the Dutch high-voltage grid via two 525kV DC cables with a capacity of 2GW – this will be the highest in the world. As a result of the increased capacity, only two instead of six cables will be required, resulting in lower costs, as well as less space requirements and environmental impact.

A total of four converter stations are required for the DC transmission, which prevents transport losses: two offshore converter platforms for converting the wind-generated AC into DC and two onshore converters for the reconversion. The 2GW connections are possible due to TenneT’s unique experience with HVDC grid connections in Germany, where TenneT will connect offshore wind farms with DC technology on a large scale. The TSO also uses the 525kV high voltage level for NordLink, the new international connection between Germany and Norway, as well as for the German onshore projects SuedLink and SuedOstlink.

TenneT has ambitious offshore plans, since the TSO has been commissioned by the Dutch government to connect a total of 9.6GW offshore capacity, of which 5.6GW will be realised with AC connections and 4GW with innovative DC connections. Together with the offshore wind farms already in operation, the offshore wind energy capacity is expected to reach 10.6GW in the Netherlands in 2030. Because of the considerable total capacity of IJmuiden Ver, the associated onshore connection is a core component of TenneT’s offshore grid development in the Netherlands.

Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the IJmuiden Ver project: “We are making an important contribution to accelerating the energy transition. Based on our experience with innovative technology in Germany, we can now help to realise the Dutch ambitions for the development of offshore wind energy with fewer cables, fewer platforms and less spatial impact and nuisance to the environment, both at sea and on land.”

TenneT connects Dutch offshore wind farm with a record capacity of 2GW (picture: TenneT , artist’s impression)

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> See TenneT press release, in Dutch (html)
> Open artist’s impression video (TenneT, YouTube)

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TSOs introduce possible SuedLink routings

21.02.2019

The SuedLink extra-high voltage line is an integral part of Germany’s future low-carbon energy infrastructure. Major supra-regional projects such as Suedlink are included in the German Federal Requirements Plan Act and are often referred to as “power highways”. In order to reach Germany’s and Europe’s climate goals, they are indispensable to link the windy regions of northern Germany with the consumption centres in the industrially highly developed south. SuedLink is jointly carried out by the two TSCNET shareholders TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and TransnetBW, the TSO from southwest Germany.

The European “Project of Common Interest” (PCI) with an investment volume of around €10bn is planned as a DC underground cable. It comprises two measures with a capacity of 2GW each, from the northernmost federal state of Schleswig-Holstein through western Lower Saxony, northern Hesse and southern Thuringia to Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg respectively. In 2017, TenneT and TransnetBW defined a whole network of possible corridor sections suitable for detailed consideration. On that basis, the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) decided on the cable routes to be thoroughly analysed. In recent months, TenneT and TransnetBW then carried out an in-depth examination and evaluation of these corridor alternatives by applying around 150 criteria.

On 21 February, the two TSOs presented the proposed corridor and the other corridor options derived from their study to the Network Agency. “With the detailed studies of the possible corridor variants, we have now identified a specific underground cable corridor that has the smallest possible impact on humans and nature,” explains Manon van Beek, CEO at TenneT. To give all interested parties the opportunity to inform themselves in advance, TenneT and TransnetBW publish the overview maps of the proposed corridor and the grid of all possible corridors on their respective project websites. Numerous dialogue events are to follow. “Transparency is one of our highest priorities,” comments Dr. Werner Götz, CEO at TransnetBW, on this procedure.

TenneT and TransnetBW present possible corridor variants for SuedLink (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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EU invests in priority energy infrastructure

05.02.2019

The “Connecting Europe Facility” (CEF) programme by the European Commission (EC) is a major European funding instrument to support the Energy Union, which is one of the EC’s policy priorities. CEF promotes the development of high performing, sustainable and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks in transport, energy and digital services sectors. Significant infrastructure projects of TSCNET shareholders are also considered as Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) and worthy of support.

PCIs financed by CEF include for example the Viking Link interconnector of the Danish transmission system operator (TSO) Energinet, the SuedLink DC line in Germany – a joint venture of the Dutch-German TSO TenneT and TransnetBW from southwestern Germany – and the joint smart grid project SINCRO.GRID of TSOs ELES and HOPS from Slovenia and Croatia respectively.

Last week, the EU Member States endorsed the EC’s proposal to invest a further €800 million under the CEF in infrastructure projects with high cross-border benefits. The current approval concerns the CEF’s financial support for studies and work on a total of 14 projects. Priority has been given to initiatives to increase competitiveness, improve security of energy supply and contribute to sustainable development and environmental protection.

The EU is investing a further €800m in priority energy infrastructure (illustration based on a picture by EC-Audiovisual Service / Mauro Bottaro)

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> See EC press release (html)

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Approval for construction of SuedLink converter

15.01.2019

The substation in Leingarten, operated by TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is the southwest German ending point and the location for the converter of the SuedLink extra-high voltage line. This supra-regional project is carried out jointly by TransnetBW and further TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. SuedLink will be of great benefit to Germany’s future energy system as it will transmit sustainable electricity from the north of the country to Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg in the industrially highly developed south.

On 15 January 2019, TransnetBW received the first partial construction permit from the competent district administration for the construction of the SuedLink converter at Leingarten. The first preparatory construction measures can now begin as planned in 2020, and the commissioning of the entire DC underground cable connection with a length of approximately 700km remains scheduled for 2025.

The new equipment in Leingarten will convert the DC into AC so that it can be fed into the transport network. Dr. Werner Götz, CEO at TransnetBW, comments: “With the district administration’s approval for the converter on the site of our substation, we were able to find the best solution for the region and the local community. I am very pleased that we are the first TSO in Germany to receive approval for such a DC converter.”

TransnetBW has received approval to build the converter for the SuedLink extra-high voltage line in Leingarten (photomontage of the future substation: TransnetBW)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> See TransnetBW press release, in English (html)

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Germany wants to speed up grid expansion

16.08.2018

Germany’s electricity transmission system operators (TSOs) repeat it like in prayer mills: If the energy transition in Germany is to succeed, the extension of the supraregional transmission system must keep pace with the expansion of renewable energy generation. This is mainly due to the special conditions in Germany, where the major renewable generation sites lie in the north of the country and thus far from the main consumption centres in the south and southwest. To ensure security of supply for the future, electricity must be transported reliably from north to south. This requires efficient power lines, such as the well-known line projects “A-Nord”, “SuedLink”, “SuedOstLink”, and “Ultranet”, or the “Südwest-Kuppelleitung”, which was completed in 2017.

Unfortunately, the expansion is lagging behind the set goals. The Power Line Expansion Act (EnLAG), which came into force in 2009, provides that by 2015 the transmission grid should have been extended by around 1,800km. Three years later, not even half of the total length has been realised: Of the 1,800km of power lines under EnLAG, around 1,150km have been approved and only about 800km have been completed. The German TSOs expect about 70 percent of EnLAG line kilometres to be completed by the end of 2020. There are many reasons for the delay, such as lack of political support, long approval procedures, complaints from citizens, or environmental issues. Already at the beginning of last year, the four German TSOs, 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW, submitted revised network development plans to the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the competent German authority in terms of grid extension.

Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, has now expressed the political goal of significantly accelerating grid extension in order to guarantee a secure and affordable energy transition. The Minister took a visit to the Bundesnetzagentur on 14 August as an opportunity to declare the grid extension a top priority and to present the Ministry’s “Aktionsplan Stromnetz” (“Power Grid Action Plan”). Mr Altmaier added: “For a successful energy transition we need a modern and well-developed transmission system as well as the expansion of renewable energies. The power grids are the cardiovascular system of our power supply. This must function reliably from the wind turbine in the North Sea to the charging station in Bavaria.”

With his action plan, Altmaier is pursuing a double strategy: On the one hand, existing lines are to be optimised with the help of new technologies and operating concepts: e.g. line monitoring, new conductor cables, phase shifters, controllable transformers, or improved redispatching. Also the digitisation should help to enhance the grid capacity. On the other hand, the grid extension is to be accelerated. For this purpose, the so-called “Netzausbaubeschleunigungsgesetz” (“Grid Extension Acceleration Law”) is to be amended in autumn to facilitate approval procedures. In addition, effective and forward-looking controlling should be established for all grid projects.

According to a press release, TSCNET shareholder Amprion welcomes the efforts. “To speed up network expansion, we need a common understanding from Berlin to the local city halls,” said Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, Chief Commercial Officer of Amprion. “This is the only way we can solve the complex challenges of the projects.” Moreover, no fundamental new laws were needed to accelerate network expansion, but less bureaucracy. If the approval processes were made more efficient, more time would remain to develop the best possible solutions for new routes in dialogue with the citizens.

When designing the network expansion, Amprion focused on innovations – both in transmission and construction technologies as well as in system management. Nevertheless, not all the wishes of residents and interest groups could be fulfilled – for example, where physics or laws set limits. “We need demand-driven grid expansion in order to continue to operate the energy system in a stable manner in the future. At the same time, we are exploiting all possibilities to make our network even more flexible and efficient,” said Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, Chief Technical Officer of Amprion.

Peter Altmaier, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, presents a Power Grid Action Plan (illustration using a photo © German Federal Government / Kugler)

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> Open Power Grid Action Plan, in German (pdf, 1.47MB)
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Investing in energy transition – TenneT report

25.07.2018

The Half Year Report of the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT does not only provide satisfactory figures, but also shows that the business of a transmission system operator (TSO) with a control area from the seashores to the Alps is essentially divided into two parts: connecting offshore wind energy capacity to the onshore grid and ensuring the transport of sustainable generated electricity to wherever it is needed. To further support the energy transition, TenneT is accelerating the realisation of large-scale projects in the Dutch sector of the North Sea and on the German mainland. The TSO’s commitment to the European energy future is reflected with a total of €904m of investments in the transmission systems in the first half of 2018 ‒ not only impressive compared to the first half of 2017 (€750m).

By 2030, TenneT plans to have connected a total of 11.5GW of offshore wind energy to the grid in the Netherlands. Three years earlier, in 2027, the TSO aims to achieve a total transmission capacity of 11GW for the German North Sea. The most outstanding onshore infrastructural projects are the German supraregional extra-high voltage lines SuedLink and SuedOstLink with a length of 700km and 580km, respectively, and a combined capacity of 6GW. Both DC lines will partially be realised by means of underground cabling and are joint ventures of TSCNET shareholders. On SuedLink, TenneT cooperates with TransnetBW, and on SuedOstLink with 50Hertz. To help financing its investments in the transmission of the renewables, TenneT in March 2018 again has issued long term green bonds in two tranches with a nominal total value of €1.25bn. Altogether, TenneT has issued €6.25bn in green bonds to date.

Mel Kroon, CEO at TenneT, emphasises the company’s “central position in the energy transition” and considers that the construction of new infrastructure alone is not enough to meet the challenges of the future, “but also the development of innovative hard- and software systems for real-time coordination of the variable supply of green electricity.” Mr Kroon expresses the need for a new energy system, and points out the unexploited potential of green hydrogen for flexibility and storage solutions: “Following the successful development of offshore wind energy, we now need to focus on promoting the production of green hydrogen in order to facilitate long-term energy storage and make the industrial and transport sectors far more sustainable.”

TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, presents the Half Year Report 2018

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> Open Half year report 2018 (pdf, 803kb)

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Construction start for SuedLink information centre

24.07.2018

Innovation, grid extension, digitisation, smart grid solutions ‒ in fact, it is a long list of important measures to make the energy transition in Germany a success. Maybe as important as the technical aspects of the future grid is the accompanying publicity work. Transparency is the key to effectively involve citizens in the planning and implementation of infrastructure projects and to win them over to the goals of the energy transition. Against this backdrop, TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is building an information centre in Leingarten, the southwest German ending point and converter site of the SuedLink extra-high voltage line.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the centre in Leingarten took place on 23 July. The supra-regional SuedLink project is a joint venture of TransnetBW and further TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. The DC line will transmit green electricity from Schleswig-Holstein in the very north of Germany to Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg in the country’s industrially highly developed south. The scheduled commissioning date of this key project for a reliable and future-proof transmission system is 2025, and from April 2019 the interested public will be able to obtain information about the energy transition, SuedLink and the regional specifities in the centre.

Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector in Baden-Württemberg, commented during the ceremony: “In the future, SuedLink will make a crucial contribution to the electricity supply of people and industry in Baden-Württemberg.” The information centre allows citizens not only to inform themselves but also to get in touch with the TSO at a personal level. Dr. Werner Götz, CEO at TransnetBW explained: “This is how we make the energy transition project SuedLink as transparent as possible.”

TransnetBW, one of the four German TSOs, started construction of the information centre for the Suedlink extra-high voltage line. Picture: TransnetBW (from left to right: Klaus Wenninger, managing director of the construction company AMOS; Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector; Dr. Werner Götz, CEO at TransnetBW; Ralf Steinbrenner, mayor of Leingarten)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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German grid stabilising costs reach record high

02.01.2018

The most persistent problem within the German electricity market remains its division: Wind power abounds in the north, while in the consumption centres in the south and west there is an imminent danger of electricity shortage. This regional split, a consequence of the energy transition, puts pressure on the national transmission grid. According to a report of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, which has met with a great response in the German press, the company’s cost for stabilisation measures in Germany amounted to over €1bn in 2017.

TenneT is responsible for the largest control area in Germany, extending from the most northern federal state of Schleswig-Holstein to Bavaria in the south. Without a sustainable extension of the German transmission system, the TSO does not see any possibility of noticeably reducing stabilisation costs and thus not placing an additional burden on electricity prices. Due to missing power lines to transmit green energy from north to south, expensive grid interventions and redispatch measures become necessary when power plants and wind farms in the north have to be shut down in case of high wind – otherwise more electricity would be produced than the grid can absorb. However, conventional reserve power plants have to be started at the same time in the south to meet the regional demand for electricity.

“More than ever, we have to stabilise the grid,” comments Lex Hartman (see picture), member of TenneT’s executive board. Until a sufficient transmission system is realised that meets the standards of the energy transition, Mr Hartman sees no near signs of improvement. Important projects in this regard are the extra-high voltage lines SuedLink and SuedOstLink, wich are joint ventures by TSCNET shareholders TenneT, TransnetBW, and 50Hertz. But these are projects of a more distant future, and thus Hartman’s forecast for the next few years is bleak: “It’s going to get even worse, before it gets better.”

> See article of the “Frankfurter Rundschau“, in German (html)

Image: TenneT

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New main control centre for TransnetBW

25.06.2017

In the presence of Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President of the federal German state of Baden-Württemberg, and Rainer Baake, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, TSC member TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), ceremoniously opened its new control centre for the transmission grid on 23 June 2017 in Wendlingen in the metropolitan area of Stuttgart. The TSO invested nearly €50m in the new building of the so-called “Hauptschaltleitung”, which was built not only in budget but – with a construction period of merely two years – also in time.

Especially in the light of such ambitious supra-regional line projects like SuedLink und Ultranet, which both end in Baden-Württemberg, the state-of-the art control centre is vitally needed. Already now, the new centre piece of TransnetBWs transmission system is technically capable of feeding in the future electricity from these two DC lines, which are essential to the success of the energy transition in Germany and beyond. As regards TransnetBW, the course for the transition is set. Rainer Joswig, Chief Operating Officer at TransnetBW, emphasised in this context, that “the energy transition needs grid extension”. With its new main control centre, TransnetBW ensures “that the supply in Germany and Europe remains safe in times of strong changes in the energy landscape”.

Minister-President Kretschmann commented on the new centre: “Here the foundations were laid that also under the ever more complex conditions the valuable good of supply security can be guaranteed.” State Secretary Baake referred to the highly diverse procesesses being necessary to meet challenges like integrating renewables, managing the increasing eletricity trade, and maintaining system security in critical situatons. Most of these processes take place in the main control centre, the “heart of the control area”, and Mr Baake concluded: “TransnetBW today has obtained a new, even more powerful heart.”

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

Picture: TransnetBW

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SuedLink and SuedOstLink forge ahead

08.03.2017

The DC line projects SuedLink and SuedOstLink can be considered as the infrastructural backbone of the future transmission grid in Germany. The success of the German energy transition depends on sufficient extra-high voltage lines to transport electricity from the renewable energy producing north to the industrially highly developed and energy consuming south of the country. SuedLink and SuedOstLink are both joint ventures by TSC members: The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT and TransnetBW, the TSO with control areas in south-west Germany, cooperate on SuedLink (running from the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein to Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg), while TenneT and 50Hertz, the TSO in the northern and eastern part of Germany, join forces in the execution of SuedOstLink (from Saxony-Anhalt to Bavaria).

In the autumn of 2016, the three TSOs have started a public campaign and officially presented their suggestions regarding possible corridors for the two power lines that will be realised for the most part by means of underground cabling. In consideration of beneficial propositions and comments from affected citizens, local authorities, and associations, the TSOs are now taken the next step in implementing the much needed infrastructure expansion. They apply for Federal Sectoral Planning at the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the competent German authority in terms of grid management and grid extension. The Bundesnetzagentur carries out a strategic environmental assessment and decides on the corridor. The application for SuedOstLink is submitted today, the one for SuedLink is to follow on 17 March.

The start of the official approval procedures marks the conclusion of the conceptual preliminary work on SuedLink and SuedOstLink. Lex Hartmann, managing director of TenneT, comments that it was of highest importance for the partner TSOs to determine corridors with the least possible impact on man and nature. “This we have achieved by means of the most comprehensive participation of citizens ever attained in a grid expansion project in Germany.” Boris Schucht, Chief Executive Officer at 50Hertz, acknowledges the impact from the public participation that has lead to “numerous adjustments and optimisations of existing corridor routes as well as four completely new segments”. Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW executive board, assures that the three TSOs will continue to effectively involve the public: “In order to receive acceptance for this important project of the energy transition, we remain, of course, in a transparent dialogue with the citizens and the political decision-makers.”

> See 50Hertz press release (in German, html)
> See TenneT press release on SuedLink (in German, html)
> See TenneT press release on SuedOstLink (in German, html)
> See TransnetBW press release (in German, html)

Picture: TenneT

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