525kV technology for Germany’s “power highways”

04.12.2019

SuedLink, SuedOstLink and A-Nord are large-scale DC connection projects that are essential for Germany’s low-carbon energy future, since these so-called “Stromautobahnen” (power highways) will transport green electricity generated in the north and east of the country to the consumption centres in the south and west. The three power lines will be implemented predominantly via underground cabling and are collaborative efforts of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). TenneT and TransnetBW cooperate on SuedLink, 50Hertz and TenneT join forces on SuedOstLink and A-Nord is carried out by Amprion. Together with Ultranet, a joint project with TransnetBW, A-Nord forms the Korridor A.

The four TSCNET shareholders intend to install innovative plastic-insulated DC cables with a voltage level of 525kV in these projects. So far, 320kV cables have been used for comparable DC connections in Germany. As a matter of fact, it will be the first use of 525kV underground cables worldwide, which underlines the pilot character of the three high-performance connections. The decision by the TSOs was preceded by an extensive test phase on the technical suitability of the 525kV cables. The pre-qualification tests according to international standards of the Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) were successful and proved that the 525kV cables are reliable and safe.

A higher voltage level of the cables translates into more transmission capacity. This has two possible effects for the planned DC lines, assuming technical feasibility for the entire system: On the one hand, more electricity can be transmitted in a certain corridor with the same number of cables. On the other hand, fewer cables are required to transmit the same power compared to 320kV cable systems. This allows the routing to be designed narrower, which reduces excavation work and environmental impact.

The four German TSOs opt for innovative 525kV solution for power highways with underground cabling (picture: TenneT)

Linkup
> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

Winter outlook: RSC monitoring for supply security

28.11.2019

Every year at the end of November, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) publishes its supply security forecast for the coming winter season. Like its predecessors, Winter Outlook 2019/2020 is a concise document that provides valuable information on where bottlenecks are most likely to occur, or which are the main risks to the security of the pan-European electrical transmission system. The Outlook forecasts have been carefully calculated on the basis of a comprehensive database to provide a reliable risk assessment for the next European electricity winter.

The main positive message is that general European security of supply is ensured under normal conditions. Nevertheless, the Outlook indicates that in the event of cold spells, i.e. temperatures 10 degrees below average, combined with unforeseen outages and low renewable generation, there are potential risks in Belgium and France in January 2020. Under these extreme conditions, both countries would be heavily dependent on imports and in some cases on available out-of-market measures. Furthermore, close monitoring would be required, and ENTSO-E explicitly requests in such cases the support of regional security coordinators (RSCs), such as the Munich-based TSCNET Services.

As usual, ENTSO-E presents the Winter Outlook together with the Summer Review 2019, an overview of last summer’s events. Some heat waves were registered, but without any impact on the power supply.

ENTSO-E has released the Winter Outlook 2019/2020 (picture: TenneT)

Linkup
> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> Visit ENTSO-E seasonal outlook site (html)
> Open Winter Outlook 2019/2020 (pdf, 7.14MB)

See article on single page

ENTSO-E’s MAF 2019 is out now

23.11.2019

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has released the new 2019 edition of the Midterm Adequacy Forecast (MAF). In this context, “adequacy” refers to the balance between electricity generation and demand and the forecast is based on a comprehensive mathematical analysis of future pan-European supply security over the period up to 2021 and 2025. The MAF examines not only the interdependencies of supply and demand, but also of storage, climatic conditions, and interconnection capacity. This year, the data granularity and quality were further improved, in particular, with information on thermal generation, an improved hydrological database and a new calculation methodology for demand time series.

The results of MAF 2019 show a low risk for adequacy. However, the MAF also underlines the increasingly important role of cross-border cooperation between transmission system operators (TSOs) in promoting adequacy throughout the interconnected pan-European electricity system. As in the previous issue, MAF 2019 includes a low carbon scenario that considers the impact of the decommissioning of coal-fired plants by 2025. Here the results for some market areas directly or indirectly affected show increased risks. Sources of flexibility such as demand side patterns, storage, interconnections and enhanced and smarter integration of renewable and distributed energy sources are thus required.

The MAF is part of the broader 10-year Network Development Plan (TYNDP), which assesses system needs up to 2040. The results of MAF 2019 will be open to public consultation until 13 January 2020. In addition, ENTSO-E will organise a public webinar on 4 December to discuss the MAF results.

ENTSO-E has released the MAF 2019 (picture: ENTSO-E)

Linkup
> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> Visit MAF 2019 website with access to appendices and data sets (html)
> Open executive summary of MAF 2019 (pdf, 1.29MB)
> Access to public consultation (html)
> Register for the webinar (html)

See article on single page

Kick-off for new Weinviertel Line

19.11.2019

The Weinviertel Line (“Weinviertelleitung”) in Lower Austria is in operation for more than 70 years. An elementary component of the grid of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO), the 220kV line is now in considerable need of rehabilitation. Apart from that, the routing of the existing line does not meet the requirements of the future energy system characterised by decentralised generation of the renewables. The Weinviertel Line reconstruction is therefore essential for the implementation of the Austrian energy and climate strategy “#mission2030”, which sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030.

The new 380kV Weinviertel Line will run from Seyring near Vienna to the substation in Neusiedl an der Zaya in the north-eastern Weinviertel. Here in Neusiedl, the ground-breaking ceremony for the new construction has now taken place. To the benefit of the environment and local residents, the new Weinviertel line requires 53 pylons less than the old one. “This is because we can dismantle the first eleven kilometres of the old line without replacement, as we will connect the new line with an existing line and feed it in there,” explained Gerhard Christiner and Thomas Karall, CTO and CFO of APG respectively. The investment costs for the new line amount to 200m euros.

Christiane Teschl-Hofmeister, a member of the Lower Austrian state government who attended the ceremony, commented: “With the new APG Weinviertel Line, Lower Austria will have an efficient and future-oriented grid connection for renewable energies from the region. The APG Weinviertel Line thus makes an important contribution to the Lower Austrian Climate and Energy Roadmap 2030.”

APG has started construction of the new Weinviertel Line (picture: APG; from left to right: Franz Mittermayer from Austrian energy company EVN, Thomas Karall, Christiane Teschl-Hofmeister and Gerhard Christiner)

Linkup
> See APG press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

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)

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

See article on single page

PROMOTioN for a North Sea transmission grid

08.11.2019

“PROgress on Meshed HVDC Offshore Transmission Networks” is a very precise project description but also a bit lengthy. In contrast, the dynamic acronym “PROMOTioN” refers quite well to the ambitions that the consortium members contribute to the research project. General goal of PROMOTioN is the further development of innovative technologies relevant for the deployment of meshed offshore HVDC nets. The more specific objective is to improve cooperation between grid operators and major suppliers of technical architecture and interoperable technologies to accelerate offshore HVDC grid development. PROMOTioN is the largest energy project funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme, with a consortium of 33 partners from 11 countries, including the two TSCNET shareholders Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO.

A report by PROMOTioN has just been published (“Regulatory and financing principles for a meshed HVDC offshore grid”) summarising the principal findings for the design of a legal, regulatory and financial framework for cross-border HVDC offshore connections. The report provides recommendations for policy-makers and other stakeholders for overcoming regulatory and financial obstacles to the realisation of a North Sea transmission system. The key conclusion of the report and of the whole project is that the North Sea riparian states need to establish a harmonised legal and economic framework to fully exploit the potential of a meshed offshore grid in the North Sea.

A distinction is made between short-term and long-term recommendations, each of which is presented very concisely. Short term recommendations include the improvement of governance and regulation of the internal market for (offshore) electricity, optimisation of innovation financing, support for early communication of all parties involved and the formalisation of cross-border cost allocation (CBCA) as a binding contract. The latter aspect is regarded as one of the most important pillars in the economic framework. The most significant long-term recommendation is that EU member states, third countries and the EU should consider adopting a North Sea Treaty containing the objectives and principles of the offshore grid.

Tim Meyerjürgens, COO at TenneT, comments on the PROMOTioN project: “The development of a cross-border HVDC grid is one of the most promising opportunities for a sustainable energy future in Europe. TenneT is cooperating closely with other TSOs to develop the idea of a meshed and efficient offshore grid in the North Sea, which requires the creation of a common regulatory framework. PROMOTioN’s research shows the way to make this happen.”

The PROMOTioN project provides a framework for cross-border HVDC offshore connections (picture: TenneT)

Linkup
> See TenneT press release (html)
> Visit PROMOTioN website (html)
> Open PROMOTioN report (pdf, 2MB)

See article on single page

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)

Linkup
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

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)

Linkup
> See Swissgrid news release, in German (html)

See article on single page

Randstad 380kV North Ring in operation

14.10.2019

The four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) and their surroundings constitute the Randstad region in the Netherlands. With a population of more than 8 million people, it is Europe’s most densely populated area. Randstad has a high energy demand, which needs to be reliably met and secured also in the future. However, infrastructure construction measures are particularly challenging in such a conurbation. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has now made an elementary contribution to security of supply of the Randstad.

After a construction period of five years, the 60-kilometer-long Randstad 380kV North Ring power line was put into operation on 10 October. More than 1000 people from the region, 300 landowners, over 25 responsible authorities, 13 contractors and 200 TenneT employees were involved in its construction. The new high-voltage line will reliably supply millions of households and companies with electricity. It will also provide the transmission capacity required for green electricity from North Sea wind farms. As a complementary measure, the existing 150kV connections in the region were adapted and two new high-voltage substations have been built in Beverwijk and Vijfhuizen.

At 151 locations along the route, Tennet installed innovative Wintrack pylons that consume less space, reduce magnetic field zones and, due to their slim and streamlined shape, fit much better into their surroundings than conventional steel lattice pylons. Ten kilometres of the North Ring have been laid underground. The aluminium cables used by TenneT are a novelty. They are cheaper than conventional materials and conduct electricity more efficiently, which means that their carbon footprint is smaller.

TenneT has commissioned the Randstad 380kV North Ring (picture of the opening ceremony with TenneT CEO Manon van Beek and COO Ben Voorhorst: TenneT)

Linkup
> See TenneT press release (html)

See article on single page

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)

Linkup
> See Swissgrid media release (html)

See article on single page