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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TenneT presents Annual Report

21.02.2019

The transition to significantly more solar and wind energy in the power grid continues to have a substantial impact on the business operations of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The apparent progress made by TenneT in this respect is reflected in the TSO’s just published Integrated Annual Report 2018, which is accompanied by the Green Finance Report 2018. To further advance the energy transition, TenneT focuses on the innovation and optimisation of the existing transmission system as well as on major national and international grid expansions. Manon van Beek, CEO at TenneT, refers to the necessity “to expand and reinforce our grids both onshore and offshore” and further explains: “We must also use the capacity of this infrastructure better, more flexibly and efficiently with the help of technology.”

TenneT again achieved a very good financial result in 2018. On an underlying revenue basis of €4.2bn, the TSO invested €2.3bn (2017: €1.8bn) in the energy transition and security of supply, with remarkable success, as grid availability in 2018 was 99.9988% within TenneT’s control area. And apart from the ensured reliability of the current transmission system, TenneT also wants to guarantee security of supply in the future. Since the energy future cannot be realised without inventive concepts, TenneT was and will be very active in innovation research for a flexible and affordable energy system based on solar and wind energy as well as green hydrogen. Several research projects are currently underway with renowned partners from industry and science.

Especially in terms of wind energy, TenneT is setting standards by reaching a new milestone in Germany and bringing almost 17TWh of offshore wind energy ashore in 2018. TenneT’s total connection capacity for offshore wind farms grew to 6,232MW. The BorWin3 and DolWin6 projects, which will be completed in 2019 and 2023 respectively, will further increase capacity to more than 8,000MW in Germany, while the development of an offshore grid in the Dutch North Sea is also progressing as planned.

Another important operational objective of TenneT is the further integration of the Northwest European electricity market, which is essential for the success of the European energy targets. One of TenneT’s current projects is the Doetinchem-Wesel link between the Netherlands and Germany, which went into operation in September 2018. In addition, the COBRAcable subsea connection between the Netherlands and Denmark has “landed” at the Eemshaven connection point and will be commissioned this year. Also worth noting is the NordLink cable connection currently under construction, which will be the first direct link between the German and Norwegian markets. The 624km interconnector is expected to come on stream in 2021. TenneT will then be operating 16 interconnectors in total.

TenneT presents its Integrated Annual Report 2018 and Green Finance Report 2018 (picture: screenshot taken from video “50 Hertz – The challenge of continuous electricity”, TenneT – Youtube)

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> See TenneT press release, (html)
> Visit Integrated Annual Report 2018 website (html)
> Open Green Finance Report 2018 (pdf, 2.84MB)

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Line upgrade in Southwest Germany in planning phase

18.02.2019

The transmission capacity of the extra-high voltage grid in the southwest of the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg must be increased in order to ensure regional security of supply as well as reliable electricity transport in the future. Among the measures taken by TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is the replacement of the 220kV line between Daxlanden and Eichstetten am Kaiserstuhl by a 380kV line.

This line upgrade is included in the German National Grid Development Plan for electricity and comprises the construction of some 120km of new lines and five substations. The entire project is divided into four sections. The planning approval for the section between Weier and Meißenheim has now been applied for at the competent regional council. After official review, public display and consultation, the line corridor will be determined, followed by the specification of the exact routing in the subsequent planning approval procedure.

TransnetBW has applied for planning approval for a section of the Daxlanden-Eichstetten line upgrade (picture: TransnetBW)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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TenneT and Gasunie present “Infrastructure Outlook 2050”

15.02.2019

Electricity grids in Europe are increasingly confronted with the fluctuating feed-in of renewable energies. Consequently, they need more flexibility, which can be provided by the comprehensive coupling of sectors such as energy, transport, industry and heat. Many European transmission system operators (TSOs) have identified the integration of electricity and gas transmission infrastructures as a promising approach to fulfilling the requirements of the coming sustainable energy system. Electricity and gases must complement each other, since interlinking both grid types creates new storage possibilities and also provides additional transport options for renewables. Both factors will help to keep energy supplies reliable and affordable also in the low carbon energy future.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO for electricity, and Gasunie, the Dutch TSO for gas, each operate grids in the Netherlands as well as in Germany. Last year they entered into a sector coupling partnership with plans for the Power-to-Gas (PtG) pilot plant “ELEMENT ONE”. Now the TSOs have presented their joint “Infrastructure Outlook 2050”. It clearly illustrates that the existing electricity and gas infrastructures in the Netherlands and Germany continue to play a decisive role in coping with the increase in renewable energies and achieving the Paris climate targets. The main conclusion of the joint TSO study is that electricity and gas networks must be more closely interconnected by 2050 in order to meet the objectives. The Outlook is also the first document of its kind to consider various scenarios for the future development of energy supply.

The importance of hydrogen from PtG technologies for energy storage and transport is also highlighted. But even despite the potential of sector integration, further expansion of the electricity grid remains essential, as all scenarios envisage a significant increase in the necessity of electricity transport. In addition, however, there must also be backing from political decision-makers and the creation of a clear, supportive regulatory framework. Manon van Beek, CEO at TenneT, argues that “energy systems are not converted overnight but require sustained, joint efforts”. She therefore sees the need for close cooperation between all those involved in the energy market. In this respect, the “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” represents a “solid, joint start with fresh insights”.

TenneT and Gasunie present the “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” on developing and coupling of transmission infrastructures (picture: Gasunie)

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Open “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” (pdf, 45.28Mb)

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APG study on targets for renewables

31.01.2019

A resilient electricity transmission grid is the most effective flexibility option for converting the energy system in the course of the energy transition. This is the result of a study conducted by the renowned consulting company “Energy Brainpool” on behalf of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO). The aim of the study is to identify possible effects of the restructuring of the energy system and concrete measures so that Austria can sufficiently contribute to the international climate agreement. According to “Mission 2030”, the Austrian energy and climate strategy, the national target in this respect is to cover 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030.

“A full focus on renewables is the only reasonable way,” states Gerhard Christiner, CTO at APG. “We fully support the political goals of the Austrian Federal Government.” Since the transformation of the energy system is a comprehensive project, it can only be realised with enormous effort of all parties involved. The new study shows that the expansion of renewables will lead to unprecedented volatility in power generation, which should best be countered with a strong transmission grid. The basic precondition for this is the rapid implementation of the existing grid extension plans.

“The APG grid development plan provides for an investment volume of more than two and a half billion euros over the next ten years to upgrade our infrastructure,” explains Thomas Karall, CFO at APG. That’s money well spent, for the results of the “Energy Brainpool” study show that, in principle, it is possible to achieve the targets set out in “Mission 2030″. But official approval procedures must be accelerated, because: “If we do not manage to extend the transmission grid on time, the energy system will reach its limits. Then it will not be possible to fully exploit the potential of renewable energies,” explains CTO Christiner.

Vienna-based APG presents the results of a study on the preconditions for the Austrian “Mission 2030” targets

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> See APG press release, in German (html)
> Open study “Austria’s way towards 100% renewables”, in German (pdf, 1.19MB)

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Swissgrid responds to legislative revisions

31.01.2019

The Swiss Federal Electricity Supply Act is the most important legal basis for the operations of TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO). The Swiss Federal Office of Energy began revising this legislative act a few years ago in order to bring it into harmony with the national “Energy Strategy 2050”. Since October 2018, a corresponding consultation procedure on the planned revision of the Electricity Supply Act has been underway. The consultation ends today.

The current revision particularly aims at the full liberalisation of the electricity market and the introduction of a storage reserve. It has stimulated an ongoing debate in Switzerland on the security of supply, which is both necessary and explicitly welcomed by Swissgrid. The TSO also considers that the complete liberalisation of the electricity market will lead to new providers and more innovation, thus having a positive impact on the transmission system and the economy as a whole. In this context, however, it has to be emphasised that liberalisation also places higher demands on efficiency and data quality for the entire electricity sector. Because of this, the availability of timely and reliable data will be crucial for forecasting and monitoring.

With regard to the introduction of a storage reserve, Swissgrid takes a critical stance and generally questions the necessity of a strategic reserve. Reserving existing energy without adding more to the system will not increase supply security. In addition, there are still many open questions about the concrete technical design, but also about the roles and responsibilities in the electricity industry. Swissgrid has the task of operating the grid reliably and efficiently, while the entire electricity industry is responsible for the power supply. Through the activation of a storage reserve, the TSO would indirectly become the last-instance supplier, a role that Swissgrid rejects.

Swissgrid responds to the revision of the Swiss Federal Electricity Supply Act

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MIGRATE and PROMOTioN workshop in Berlin

22.01.2019

The consortia of two innovative grid-related research projects funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme – MIGRATE and PROMOTioN – invite to their first joint workshop entitled “Technical challenges and recommendations for the future European power grid”. Both projects aim to maintain security of supply, grid stability and reliability in times of large scale renewable energy integration. The event takes place on 28 February 2019 at the Maritim Hotel near the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of the German capital of Berlin.

The MIGRATE project (“Massive InteGRATion of power Electronic devices”) comprises 23 partners from 13 European countries, including the transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders Amprion (Germany), ELES (Slovenia), and TenneT (Germany and the Netherlands). The aim of MIGRATE is to explore technology-based solutions for the current and future technological challenges to the transmission system, in particular by linking generation and consumption via power electronics.

The PROMOTioN project (“PROgress on Meshed HVDC Offshore Transmission Networks”) seeks to further develop innovative technologies relevant for the deployment of meshed offshore HVDC grids. Its specific objective is to improve the cooperation between grid operators and major suppliers for a technical architecture and interoperable technologies to accelerate HVDC grid development. As the largest energy project in Horizon, the consortium includes 33 partners from 11 countries, among them TenneT and further TSCNET shareholder Energinet, the Danish TSO.

The first joined workshop of the European research projects MIGRATE and PROMOTioN will be held in Berlin on 28 February

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> See ELES press release (html)
>Visit MIGRATE or PROMOTioN website (html, both with access to event agenda and registration)

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European power facts

22.01.2019

“Power Facts Europe 2019” is a focused and data-driven report on the dimension, status quo, development and perspectives of key areas of the European energy transition published today by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E). The “Power Facts” are part of a wider ENTSO-E transparency initiative by which ENTSO-E and the transmission system operators (TSOs) aim to provide citizens with factual support to promote the energy transition in Europe and its acceptance.

The “Power Facts Europe” consist of six chapters. The first three represent the common triad of sustainability, market and security of supply, which is supplemented by chapters on infrastructure, customers and the cyber physical grid. Each chapter offers relevant data compilations, mainly provided by the TSO community, that allow a better understanding of important aspects related to the energy transition.

ENTSO-E has released “Power Facts Europe 2019”, a consistent data report on the EU-wide energy transition

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> Open ”Power Facts Europe 2019” (pdf, 22.7MB)

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APG and ENTSO-E comment on frequency drop

16.01.2019

Last Thursday, 10 January 2019, at around 9 p.m., a deviation from the 50Hz mid-frequency to 49.8Hz was registered in the Continental European (CE) Power System which comprises the synchronised transmission grids of 25 countries. As foreseen in such cases, immediate collective actions have been taken by the transmission system operators (TSOs) of the CE Regional Group and the underfrequency was rectified within a few seconds. The incident was clearly sufficient to alert the TSOs, but at no time did it jeopardise the European security of supply.

Nevertheless, there have been reports in some Austrian media about a potential interruption of the European electricity supply, comparable to the event of November 2006, when ten million households in France were disconnected from the grid as a precautionary measure. These press reports have provoked reactions from TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), who both stated that the comprehensive technical analysis is still pending but that there was no risk of a major power failure at any time.

APG has already made initial statements on the incident. According to APG, the cause was most likely a combination of several circumstances, but the decisive factor was probably a data error at another TSO at a transfer point on the Austro-German border. This occurrence could not be compared with that of 2006, when line overload was the reason.

APG and ENTSO-E respond to press reports on the frequency drop in the CE power system and confirm permanent security of supply

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> See APG press release, in German (html)
> See ENTSO-E press release (html)

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Successful tests for the HeatFlex project

15.01.2019

Volatile and decentralised energy generation is an essential characteristic of the energy future. What is at first an evident risk to grid stability, could also prove to be an opportunity for smart and flexible grid management, since small and decentralised consumption devices, if actively involved, could even help to stabilise the grid. In order to explore this potential, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and the southern German distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk Netz GmbH have launched HeatFlex last summer, a research project to increase the flexibility and stability of the entire transmission system.

TenneT and Bayernwerk jointly investigate how decentralised devices can be involved most effectively. The power users that HeatFlex is concerned with are, for example, electric storage heaters, heat pumps, water heaters and potentially also electric vehicles in the Bayernwerk area. They can be controlled by the DSO using ripple control. If a bottleneck in the transmission grid is to be expected, for instance due to a lot of wind power, decentralised consumption devices are used for grid control: At TenneT’s request, they will be triggered by Bayernwerk and then cease consuming too much electricity but instead supply the grid with the necessary electricity for stabilisation.

There are over 170,000 decentralised controllable devices with a total capacity of around 200MW in the Bayernwerk distribution area. A first test in summer already proved the technical feasibility of HeatFlex in cases of real bottleneck situations. It turned out that the communication between the control centres of both operators worked quickly and efficiently. “With this project, we are testing solutions for tomorrow already today. HeatFlex is one of the pilot projects with which we are investigating which decentralised flexibilities we can use in the future to stabilise the grid. These include, for example, projects with power-to-gas, with bidirectionally chargeable electric vehicles or with home storage and blockchain technology,” explains TenneT Managing Director Wilfried Breuer.

HeatFlex, the joint research project of TenneT and Bayernwerk on flexible grid control, is making progress (picture: Bayernwerk AG)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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