Coupling of renewables and PtG for climate targets

11.12.2018

In order to achieve ambitious climate targets, a rapid expansion of renewable energy generation is essential. The German market still has great offshore potential in this respect. However, regenerative expansion makes no sense if the corresponding transport or storage capacities are lacking. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is already known for its sustained efforts to significantly expand the transmission infrastructure in its control area as environmentally friendly as possible. But the TSO is also very active in the development of storage concepts, just consider, for example, the storage potential of the North Sea Wind Power Hub project or the “ELEMENT ONE” power-to-gas (PtG) pilot plant.

Together with Siemens and Shell, both global players in their respective fields, Tennet is now making additional efforts to promote the renewables as well as PtG. The three companies are convinced that green hydrogen will play a decisive role in the future energy mix as the basis for many power-to-X applications, which are technologies for storage and other uses of surplus electricity. TenneT, Siemens and Shell have thus commissioned a study on a new type of tender model for offshore wind capacity. This model intends to link the awarding of contracts for the operation of offshore plants to the production of hydrogen: The additional wind power from such facilities should not put too much strain on the onshore grid, but rather be used to generate hydrogen and even stablise the electricity grid. The green hydrogen can be transported via the gas grid and then be used in other sectors, such as industry or mobility.

Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, is determined to not squander any potential for renewable energies and convinced that PtG technologies provide flexibility, reduce the strain on the grid and make power supply more secure. “In the long term,” Mr Hartman continues, “the combination with hydrogen production can also be applied throughout Germany to other renewable energies. This advances the energy transition and helps to achieve our climate targets.”

TenneT, in cooperation with Siemens and Shell, proposes to couple offshore wind capacity tenders with PtG storage technologies (copyright photo composition by Stadtwerke Mainz)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Households supersede power plants

05.12.2018

It is widely known that the closure of conventional power plants in the course of the energy transition and the resulting decrease in operating reserve pose demanding challenges to transmission system operators (TSOs). They now have to compensate for this lost reserve to ensure stability of the transmission grid and secure the customer supply. In its search for new approaches, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, has been cooperating for quite some time with the sonnen GmbH, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Now a breakthrough has been announced: For the first time, sonnen provides operating reserves throughout Germany with its networked home storage systems.

This means that the currently largest virtual battery, which can compensate for grid fluctuations, goes into operation. This battery works in a unique way: It consists of thousands of individual electricity storage units, which are used for the own energy consumption of their respective households. If there are deviations in the power grid, these batteries automatically arrange themselves into a virtual large battery by means of artificial intelligence. Households are thus capable of performing the same compensation functions as conventional power plants and short-term deviations in the grid can be compensated very quickly. For this reason, sonnen, together with its technology partner tiko Energy Solutions, has been prequalified by TenneT to provide primary control reserve.

The prequalification of the virtual battery system for the primary control power market is subject to the strictest technical and safety requirements. Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, comments on the innovative technology: “That networked battery storages as virtual power plants are now able to stabilise the grid in the event of frequency deviations, is a further step on the road to increased system integration of renewable energies.”

TenneT has prequalified a virtual battery system consisting of individual storage units for the provision of operating reserve (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Watch sonnen demonstration video, in German (YouTube)

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ACER consultation on Core Capacity Calculation methodology

04.12.2018

Complex issues require precise phrasing. Therefore the new public consultation of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) is called: “Public Consultation on the amendments of the proposal for common capacity calculation methodology for the Core region”. The consultation has opened on 4 December and will be accessible until midnight on Christmas Eve. Invited to participate are all interested stakeholders, including regulatory authorities, nominated electricity market operators (NEMOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs).

What exactly is the objective of the survey? The Capacity Calculation Methodology (CCM) quantifies the electrical capacity that can be offered across borders to the day-ahead and intraday markets. The Core CCM is valid within the Core Capacity Calculation Region (CCR), which comprises Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The TSOs from the Core CCR – among them are the twelve TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, APG, ČEPS, ELES, HOPS, MAVIR, PSE, SEPS, TenneT, Transelectrica and TransnetBW – have conceived and proposed amendments to the Core CCM.

The competent regulatory authorities of the Core CCR have not yet approved the TSO proposal and asked ACER to decide on whether the modified Core CCM complies with the European Capacity Allocation and Congestion Management (CACM) Regulation. Interested parties are invited to provide feedback on the consultation questions concerning the relevant aspects of the Core CCM.

ACER launches public consultation on the compliance of the Core CCM proposed by the Core TSOs with the European CACM Regulation

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> See ACER press release (html)
> Direct access to consultation (html)

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Construction start for Wilhelmshaven-Conneforde line in Germany

09.11.2018

The power line from Wilhelmshaven on the German North Sea coast to the Conneforde substation in Ammerland, both in the federal state of Lower Saxony, is one of those line projects in Germany that are urgently needed to extend the transmission capacities for wind energy from northern Germany to the consumption centres in the south and west. Moreover, the 380kV line is one of the German pilot projects for partial underground cabling in the three-phase current range. It will be around 30km long and comprise 60 pylons. In two sections, underground cables will be laid over a length of around 5.3km.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT has now begun construction of the new line with a symbolic turning of the first sod in Conneforde. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) by no means celebrated its first new construction in recent times: “This is already the fifth grid expansion project in Lower Saxony for which we can officially start construction within one year,” explains Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT. Also the Fedderwarden substation (near Wilhelmshaven) is yet to be built. The scheduled commissioning date for line and substation is 2020.

To create transparency in the design process, TenneT involved the interested public, citizens as well as public stakeholders, much more in the planning than the formal procedure would have prescribed. In three years, the TSO has organised nine information markets along the route and conducted numerous individual discussions. “It is our central concern to harmonise our projects as closely as possible with the country and its people, while realising a secure energy supply for the benefit of electricity consumers,” explains Mr Hartman.

From left to right: Andreas Wagner, Lord Mayor of Wilhelmshaven; Dr. Maren Bergmann, Project Manager at TenneT; Rolf Neuhaus, responsible Head of Department at the District of Friesland (picture: TenneT)

TenneT celebrates the construction start of the powerline project Wilhelmshaven-Conneforde (illustration based on screenshots taken from a TenneT video on YouTube)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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First TenneT Offshore Conference

07.11.2018

The EUREF Campus is the sustainability city quarter of the German capital Berlin with a climate-neutral energy supply and hence the ideal location for the first Offshore Conference of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, which took place on 6 November 2018. Headlined “Land in Sight – The Future of Offshore”, 170 decision-makers from politics, business and the media accepted the invitation of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) and took part in information panels, lectures and panel discussions. TenneT experts provided far-reaching insights into current pilot projects, information on ongoing studies, cooperations and concepts for future digital smart grid management.

“Offshore is a success story,” was how TenneT CEO Manon van Beek summed up the development to date. “Our conviction is that the second, decisive phase of the energy transition – the integration of 60, 70, 80% renewables and more – will only be successful if we address the issues in a bundled way.” This requires next to infrastructural improvements technical innovations, digitalisation, flexibility and the coupling of sectors.” Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, described the range of the TSO’s future-oriented approach: “From electric vehicles, blockchain storage and power-to-gas projects to the introduction of acceptability increasing underground cable technologies.” Wilfried Breuer, Managing Director TenneT Offshore, highlighted the company’s success in offshore development: “In the German North Sea, TenneT currently operates eleven offshore grid connection systems with a total capacity of 6,232MW to transmit wind energy from sea to land. This means that already now TenneT is almost completely meeting the German Federal Government’s expansion target of 6,500MW of offshore wind capacity by 2020.”

A key element of the conference was the North Sea Wind Power Hub, a visionary interconnection system that combines the generation, storage and transmission of wind energy with a multinational connection of the transmission systems of the North Sea riparian states. Also on display was an electric car already equipped with bidirectionally functioning batteries. As part of a pilot project, these batteries, which can both store electricity and feed it back into the grid, are used for redispatch. But what turned out to be the somehow “secret star” of the event was “ANYmal”, a special robot that – due to its highly developed motion characteristics – in test runs is already independently performing maintenance and repair work in TenneT’s onshore and offshore facilities.

TenneT held its first Offshore Conference in Berlin, Germany, which was attended by a prominent audience (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Watch “ANYmal” demonstration videos on Twitter (html)

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German TSOs revise grid design principles

29.10.2018

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, Tennet, and TransnetBW have revised their plans for grid development in Germany and presented the new version of the “Principles for the Design of the German Transmission System”. This joint document of the four TSOs determines needs-based perspective concepts for secure and efficient grid operation in accordance with national and European legal frameworks and obligations.

With the first publication of the principles in 2012, the German TSOs presented the technical and economic basis of grid design in a transparent and comprehensible manner based on three equally important aspects: grid optimisation, reinforcement and expansion. Since then, the framework conditions have changed in several respects. The TSOs have therefore fundamentally revised and extended the common planning principles last published in the April 2015 version. The principles remain subject to continuous future review by the TSOs and will be adjusted if necessary.

The four German TSOs have released their revised “Principles for the Design of the German Transmission System”

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> See TransnetBW news release, in German (html)
> Open Principles, (pdf, 1,35MB)

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“ELEMENT ONE” couples green energy sectors

17.10.2018

Power-to-gas (PtG) technologies can make a significant contribution to solving the problem of the weather-dependent and thus volatile availability of renewable energies. The PtG offer for a low carbon energy future is to convert sustainable electricity into gas (green hydrogen or methane), so that the gas infrastructure can be used additionally for the transport and storage of renewable energies. A future milestone in the PtG area is now emerging, as TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) for electricity, and the two TSOs for gas, Gasunie and Thyssengas, have embarked on concrete planning for green sector coupling using PtG technologies.

Without ambitious and courageous lighthouse projects, the energy transition cannot be successfully promoted, and the three TSOs have just presented precisely this kind of project with “ELEMENT ONE”. In the German federal state of Lower Saxony, the three operators are planning to build a PtG pilot plant, which will be the largest of its kind in Germany with a capacity of 100MW. From 2022, the plant will gradually be connected to the grid and offer new storage capacities for renewable energies. The ultimate long-term goal to be achieved by the partners is a comprehensive coupling of the energy, transport and industry sectors.

TenneT sees great potential in PtG technologies because they can provide the power grid with a much needed degree of flexibility. And this creates many advantages for grid operation as Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, emphasises: “The ability to store large volumes of renewable electricity will reduce the load on the power grid. That, in turn, helps us limit the expensive curtailment of wind turbines and make the power supply more reliable.” And what may be perhaps the most significant aspect for the public ‒ considering the ongoing discussions about grid extension in Germany ‒ is the prediction that “storing more green energy also entails a reduced need for further grid expansion after 2030”.

In cooperation with Gasunie and Thyssengas, TenneT presents the ELEMENT ONE project for green sector coupling using PtG technology

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Operations in Bavarian – welcome, Mohammad and Vincent!

15.10.2018

We at TSCNET Services are passionate advocates of diversity, especially when it comes to the origins of our employees. People from 24 nations work with us – but then many people are happy when someone truly Bavarian is also part of it. Bavaria has to do with both newcomers to our Service Operations unit, but in very different ways.

With Vincent Helmbrecht (right in the picture) it’s quite easy: The 33-year-old Operations Manager comes from Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, just 40 kilometers north of Munich, and the gateway to Holledau, the world’s largest hop-growing region. If you don’t know: Hops are the characteristic ingredient for beer, and worldwide Bavaria stands for the so popular brewery product.

After his Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) in Renewable Energies Technologies at the University of Applied Sciences Nordhausen, Vincent earned his Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency at the University of Kassel in 2013. After around three years as a photovoltaic researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology (Fraunhofer IEE) in Kassel and in the European Network of Excellence (DERlab), Vincent joined TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the German-Dutch transmission system operator (TSO). There he worked at the Control Center in Dachau, which borders Munich in the west. His focus was on capacity calculations and Week-Ahead, Day-Ahead and Intraday calculations including redispatch for the grid’s n-1 security.

Vincent hired TSCNET for a period of 18 months. He wants to bring in his knowledge from the TSO side and at the same time get to know the work of a multinational Regional Security Coordinator (RSC), such as TSCNET, even better.

It is somewhat more complicated with the Syrian Kurd Mohammad Qasem, whom the family and friends call Bradost or Brad for short. In 2009, he began his studies in Information Technology Engineering (ITE) at the University of Damascus. Before his graduation he had to leave the country because of the civil war in 2012 and went to the Kurdish part of Iraq. There he worked in various humanitarian projects for the Italian aid organisation Un Ponte Per and also developed several database applications, among others financed by UNHCR and UNICEF.

In 2015 Mohammad was accepted into the “Leadership for Syria” programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and continued his studies in Engineering Physics at Oldenburg University, specialising in renewable energies. During his studies, he also had a lot to do with photovoltaics in addition to wind energy and developing new concepts to realise the “Energy Turnaround”. Now that he has graduated, the 26-year-old has moved to Munich with his family and started as Junior Operations Manager at TSCNET, and now we’ ve come full circle when it comes to Bavarian: After Kurdish, Arabic, English, and German, the amateur photographer and music lover now also wants to learn the Bavarian dialect, which is “difficult even for native German speakers in other parts of the country to understand”, as the global edition of “Handelsblatt” says. Perhaps Mohammad’s new colleague Vincent will kindly include some Bavarian in his knowledge transfer project.

TSCNET Services has welcomed Mohammad Qasem (on the left) and Vincent Helmbrecht, the two new colleagues in the Service Operations unit

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Acer decision on fallback procedures for Core CCR

09.10.2018

In March 2018, the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) was asked by the competent regulatory authorities to decide on the amended proposal of the transmission system operators (TSOs) from the Core Capacity Calculation Region (CCR) regarding the Core CCR fallback procedures. In the following August, ACER invited all interested stakeholders to share their views on the issue in a public consultation. After evaluating the survey, ACER has now published its decision on revisions to the methodology for fallback procedures.

The Core CCR consists of sixteen Central European TSOs, twelve of which are TSCNET shareholders: APG (Austria), ČEPS (Czechia), ELES (Slovenia), HOPS (Croatia), MAVIR (Hungary), PSE (Poland), SEPS (Slovakia), Transelectrica (Romania), the Dutch-German TSO TenneT, and the three further TSOs from Germany 50Hertz, Amprion, and TransnetBW. ACER’s decision introduces minimal changes to fallback procedures in order to improve legal clarity and enforceability. Most importantly, instead of five different shadow allocation rules, only a single set of rules is adopted by the Agency, which specifies in its decision to which bidding zone borders these rules apply.

ACER has published its decision on the improvement of the fallback procedures proposed by the TSOs of the Core CCR

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> See ACER press release (html, with access to decision and consultation results)

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Direct coupling transformer for Upper Franconia

08.10.2018

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)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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