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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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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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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Automobile batteries to stabilise the grid

07.02.2019

Automobile battery storage systems can be employed for system stabilisation and thus substitute large power plants. This is the encouraging result of a joint research project successfully conducted by the Daimler subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Energy and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The pilot was carried out in the Daimler battery test laboratory in Kamenz, a small Saxon town near Dresden, with funds from the innovation programme “Smart Energy Showcases. Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition” (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie. Digitale Agenda für die Energiewende” – SINTEG) initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The impetus for this research, as well as for other TenneT innovation projects, derives from the energy transition, which has brought about two decisive changes for the TSOs: the loss of reactive power due to the shutdown of large power plants and the volatility of renewable energy generation. Still, generation and consumption need to be balanced in the grid in order to maintain the 50Hz frequency. In this respect, vehicle-to-grid technologies are a promising approach to providing enough primary balancing power.

The prototype storage system installed in the laboratory is based on lithium-ion automobile batteries with a total connected load of approx. 1MW and a storage capacity of 750kWh. It is connected to a specifically constructed test grid. The test runs in Kamenz have shown that such battery storage systems are suitable for highly dynamic system support, since they respond to a frequency deviation in less than 100 milliseconds. They are also employable for system recovery, even for the start-up of entire power stations, e.g. after a major power failure. In this case, they can function as a kind of starter battery and restart the inert rotating masses of a power station. The project partners verified this by simulating a power failure in the test grid, which was restored afterwards with the automobile battery storage system.

TenneT and Mercedes-Benz Energy have conducted a research project on the use of automobile battery systems for grid stabilisation (illustration using a picture provided by Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH)

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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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Revised Network Development Plan for Germany

04.02.2019

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT and TransnetBW today have published the first draft of the new 2019 version of their “Network Development Plan (NDP) 2030” on their joint NDP website. All the different scenarios of the NDP meet the German official 65 percent target for renewables in gross electricity consumption, but differ in terms of the use of innovative technologies, storage technologies and flexibility options. Irrespective of this, a further increase in the internal German electricity market gap can be observed in all scenarios – with cumulative generation in the north and consumption centres in the south and west.

In response to the increase in required transport capacity estimated at around 11GW – due to the expansion of renewables, the significant reduction in the use of coal for electricity generation and the development of the European electricity market – the TSOs consider the construction of two additional major DC lines with a total length of 1160km to be necessary. These two extra lines with a total capacity of 4GW were not part of previous NDPs and go beyond the current German Federal Requirements Plan. The new lines are foreseen to run as underground cables in a corridor from the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein via Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia to Baden-Württemberg. They are part of the scenario B 230, in which the German TSOs propose to build altogether more than 4500km of new or upgraded power lines by 2030 (the abovementioned 1160km of the new DC lines plus an additional 450km of new constructions and 2900km of upgrades).

The costs for the expansion of the German extra-high voltage grid in the B 230 scenario will rise significantly as a result of the new projects. The TSOs estimate the costs at around €52bn. As in previous years, the Offshore Network Development Plan was drafted together with the NDP and integrated into the new NDP 2030. The NDP publication marks the start of a four-week public consultation. The comments will be taken into account for the second draft of the NEP 2030, which will then be submitted to the Federal Network Agency for review. The Agency is expected to announce its modified plans probably in May, after which the Federal Government will have to confirm the expansion in the official Federal Requirements Plan.

The four German TSOs present a revised Network Development Plan 2030, which provides for a total of 4500km of new or upgraded power lines (picture: Amprion GmbH / Haslauer)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> Visit the Grid Development Plan website (html)

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TSO-DSO platform for congestion management

30.01.2019

Grid operators in the Netherlands and throughout Europe are working intensively on expanding grid capacity, which is urgently needed in the wake of energy transition and economic growth. However, this cannot be achieved in the short term, but the use of flexible electricity from the market can help to avoid anticipated grid congestions. GOPACS (“Grid Operators Platform for Congestion Solutions”) is the name of a new technological tool developed in the Netherlands for this purpose. It is the result of a unique, active collaboration between four Dutch distribution system operators (DSOs) and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO).

GOPACS is not a market platform in its own right but uses orders on existing market platforms. And this is how it works: If congestion is foreseeable at some part of the grid, operators would like to see, for example, a reduction in production or an increase in consumption. Via GOPACS, an invitation to tender is sent to market participants concerned, who place an appropriate purchase order on a connected market platform. To avoid negative impacts on the balance of the national grid, the reduction of generation in the congestion area is combined with a contrary order from a market party outside this area. The price difference between the two orders is covered by the operators, the two orders are matched, and congestion is resolved.

The Dutch grid operators are currently looking for market players who want to participate and use their flexibility productively. Participation in GOPACS is interesting for any market party with the possibility to influence electricity consumption or generation and to provide this flexibility for trading.

Together with Dutch DSOs, TenneT has launched GOPACS, a smart platform for market players to solve grid congestions

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TenneT performs blockchain pilots successfully

29.01.2019

The energy transition demands digital transition – the number of renewable sources is increasing, while in the future there will be less and less conventional plants available to ensure the required flexibility and stability in the grid for which the transmission system operators (TSOs) are responsible. As such, the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT is constantly seeking new decentralised sources that can replace lost flexibility. In addition to wind and solar energy, these can include batteries, industrial plants or cogeneration. This is where digitisation comes in, because only through so-called “aggregator” and block chain technology the capacity and potential of all these sources can be combined and fully utilised.

TenneT has launched two pilot projects last year, one in the Netherlands and one in Germany, both employing blockchain technology. In the first case, e-vehicles and in the second case household batteries were used to balance the grid and avoid congestions. The blockchain application is an IBM development and the Dutch green electricity supplier Vandebron is the cooperation partner in the Netherlands. Vandebron provides battery capacity from e-car charging sessions at TenneT’s request. In this way, the TSO can draw on an additional electricity pool. In Germany, TenneT collaborates with Sonnen E-services, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Decentralised household batteries from Sonnen are integrated into the TenneT network via a blockchain and interconnected. Through the smart use of these batteries, Sonnen contributes to facilitating power transmission in Germany.

Since both blockchain tests were successful, TenneT and IBM have signed a contract for the further development of blockchain technology. The companies will intensify the implementation so that many more parties can gain access to the electricity market. Three new partners have already been won as additional “aggregators” to ensure improved matching of electricity supply and demand. TenneT CEO Manon van Beek explains that the TSO offers not only “a new way of integrating decentralised sources”, but also “private individuals a good opportunity to participate actively in the energy transition, making the energy transition more affordable together”.

TenneT has successfully conducted two blockchain research pilot projects (picture: Sonnen GmbH)

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Agreement on minimum capacity at Danish-German border

25.01.2019

In July 2017, the Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate and the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy adopted a joint declaration on the increase of cross-border electricity trade between Western Denmark and Germany. The competent transmission system operators (TSOs), the TSCNET shareholders Energinet from Denmark and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, subsequently agreed to implement a joint countertrading programme. Energinet and TenneT have been meeting the requirements of the joint declaration since July 2017 and have since ensured minimum available hourly capacities for both directions at the border.

In addition, TenneT has committed itself to the European Commission (EC) in 2018 to further expand the coordinated trade programme and to implement the corresponding EC decision in cooperation with Energinet from January 2019. In order to better comply with TenneT’s additional obligations from the commitment, the two TSOs have now signed an extended agreement supporting TenneT in doing so.

Energinet and Tennet signed an extended agreement on guaranteeing minimum capacities for cross-border trade

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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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