Fauna-friendly extension of Amprion substations


TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is expanding its Siegburg substation in North Rhine-Westphalia, near the former seat of the West German government in Bonn. The planning is progressing well: By 2023, the existing 220/110kV substation is to be integrated into the 380kV grid. To this end, the current installations will be extended by a 380/220kV transformer and a gas-insulated switchgear at the 380kV voltage level. A new overhead line will connect the station to Amprion’s supra-regional transmission system.

But there is more to be told from Siegburg, as the substation provides a home for seven bee colonies. In May, further TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, reported on a pilot project on eco-friendly substation maintenance, and now Amprion also informs about new steps in this field: Around 350,000 bees of the Buckfast and the Carniolan breeds live in a specially fenced area and bring the nectar gathered on their flights back to the hives at the station. “We are very happy about our new neighbours,” says Klaus Breitbach, operations manager of the substation. “We hope that our new neighbours will thank us for the good location with one or the other glass of honey”.

News is also coming from the Bischoffsheim substation in the Rhine-Main Area. Here, too, Amprion is working on the grid of the future: To ensure security of supply for the region and the state capitals of Mainz (Rhineland-Palatinate) and Wiesbaden (Hesse), the TSO is expanding and modernising the existing 380kv system with a transformer and switch panels. On 27 July, Amprion expects the delivery of the 350MVA transformer. First, the transformer with a weight of around 350 tonnes is being transported by rail. The last 560 meters on the road will be taken over by a heavy haulage tractor unit with a length of 78 meters and two times twelve axles. The total weight of the transport unit is 574 tonnes.

Bees at Amprion substation

Amprion welcomes bee colonies to the Siegburg substation and is expecting a new transformer at the Bischoffsheim substation (picture: Amprion)

> See Amprion press release on the Siegburg substation, in German (html)
> See Amprion press release on the Bischofsheim substation, in German (html)

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Transformer for TenneT’s hybrid Statcom facility


Right on time for Christmas 2018, a heavy-duty train loaded with a 299-tonne transformer built by ABB reached the Borken substation operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). Here at the long-established substation site in Borken in the German state of Hesse, practically in the middle of the German power system, the TSO is currently building the first German hybrid static synchronous compensator system (Statcom). In order to efficiently connect the Statcom system, which will later be operated at 40kV, to the existing extra-high voltage grid, a so-called impedance matching transformer is required.

The hybrid Statcom facility will provide reactive power as compensation for the declining capacities previously provided by large power plants, which are now being successively taken off the grid in the course of the energy transition. In the three-phase transmission system, the reactive power must be in balance with the active power in order to maintain the grid’s voltage at the required level. That is why reactive power compensation is a priority task for the German TSOs.

On the morning of 8 January 2019, the foundations of the transformer will be laid in front of the Statcom plant which is currently under construction. It will then take around three months before the matching transformer is operational. The entire Statcom system is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2019. In Borken, TenneT is investing around €30m in future-proof grid operation. Germany’s first hybrid Statcom system will then not only contribute to dynamic voltage stabilisation, but the entire Borken substation will also become one of the most modern hubs for green power in the TenneT grid.

TenneT has been supplied with a matching HDVC transformer for its hybrid Statcom facility at the Borken substation (picture: ABB)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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New transformer for Laufenburg substation


The Laufenburg substation in the Swiss canton of Aargau is not only one of the largest substations in Europe connecting the electrical systems of several countries, but also the birthplace of the European integrated network operation: In 1958, the “Star of Laufenburg” was put into operation as the first interconnection of the French, German and Swiss electricity grids. TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid is now upgrading the substation so that it can continue to guarantee regional and supraregional security of supply also in the future. With this upgrade, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) is implementing an important part of its grid modernisation and expansion plan, the so-called “Strategic Grid 2025”.

Already in 2017, the old 220kV outdoor switchgear in Laufenburg was replaced by a gas-insulated unit. The by now outdated transformer from 1966 is currently also being replaced, increasing the transformer capacity of the substation from 600MVA to 800MVA. The new 380/220kV transformer was manufactured in the Siemens plant in Weiz in the eastern part of the Austrian state of Styria and shipped from there to the Rhine port of Muttenz near Basel. The subsequent delivery of all individual parts of the device from the port to Laufenburg took around three weeks. The four poles of the transformer, each weighing about 200 tonnes, were moved individually on a special road transportation unit with twenty axes. At the same time, sixteen trucks brought additional material for the installation of the transformer to Laufenburg.

The new transformer will be installed with concrete walls surrounding each pole providing space for the connections of all poles, of which only three will be in operation simultaneously. Thanks to the installed connections, the reserve pole can be put into operation at short notice. Replacement of an active pole by a reserve pole is planned at five-year intervals, which will significantly increase the transformer’s lifespan. The commissioning of the new equipment is scheduled for mid-2019.

Swissgrid installs new 800MVA transformer at the Laufenburg substation in the canton of Aargau (picture: Swissgrid)

> See Swissgrid news release (html)
> Watch video of the transport on Swissgrid’s YouTube channel (“Transport eines Giganten”, in German with English subtitles)

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Direct coupling transformer for Upper Franconia


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)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Transformer transport to Hardegsen substation


The Hardegsen substation operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is one of the central power hubs in the southern part of the German federal state of Lower Saxony. But the substation is also of supra-regional importance, as it will serve to connect the Wahle-Mecklar line currently under construction with the local distribution grids.

With a total length of 230 kilometres, the 380kV line from Wahle in Lower Saxony to Mecklar in the state of Hesse is one of the largest power line projects in Germany and belongs to those construction schemes that are essential for increasing the capacity to transmit green electricity from the main generation sites in the north to the consumption centres in the south of the country.

To meet regional and supra-regional uses, the 220kV station will be prepared for 380kV operation and equipped with a total of three transformers capable of spanning between the 380kV and 110kV levels and also between 220kV and 110kV. From 2 to 3 October 2018, the second 287-tonne transformer will be delivered to Hardegsen with a heavy-duty road transportation unit of around 53 metres in length and a total weight of 491 tonnes. The subsequent assembly of the 300MVA transformer at the substation is expected to take three months.

TenneT is supplied with the second of a total of three new transformers for the Hardegsen substation in Lower Saxony (picture: TenneT)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Second transformer for Pleinting substation


The substation in Pleinting near Vilshofen is one of the central hubs of the Lower Bavarian power supply, for which TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is responsible. Also in terms of the energy transition and cross-border electricity exchange, the substation close to the Austro-German border is significant. This applies in particular to the transmission of surplus electricity from Lower Bavarian solar power generation and for the connection of Austrian pump storage power plants to the German grid.

A total of three new transformers will be installed in Pleinting, the first of which was delivered already in February 2017. The second transformer, manufactured in the Dutch town of Nijmegen, now has arrived at a nearby train station. On 6 August, the 286-tonne transformer will be delivered to the substation with a heavy-duty road transportation unit of around 45 meters in length and a total weight of 500 tonnes. The following assembly work at the substation will probably take three months.

After commissioning, the transformer will have an operating weight of 417 tonnes. It also offers an extended scope of possible applications, as it can be switched over on the high-voltage side. This means that the transformer works between the 380kV and 110kV voltage levels as well as between 220kV and 110kV. Thus it can immediately be integrated into the existing 220kV systems of the Pleinting-Pirach power line. After the completion of the planned 380kV Pleinting-Pirach line, the transformer will subsequently supply the region on this higher voltage level. By 2020, all modernisation and extension works in an around Pleinting are expected to be completed.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT is supplied with the second of a total of three new transformers for the Pleinting substation (picture of a previous transformer transport: TenneT / Screenshot taken from video “TenneT Trafo Schwertransport”, YouTube)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Seven onshore transformers for NordLink


During seven nights between 7 and 23 June 2018, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), expects the supply of altogether seven 225-tonne transformers to the NordLink converter station near Wilster in the southwest of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. NordLink is the first direct interconnector between Germany and Norway. The high voltage DC line with a capacity of 1,400MW and a total length of 623km ‒ including 516km submarine cable ‒ enables the exchange of Norwegian hydropower and German wind energy.

The transformers are delivered by ship from their Swedish manufacturing site to Brunsbüttel port on the Elbe estuary. The last 16.5km to the converter station will be carried out with a heavy-duty road train with 36 axes, a length of almost 76m, and a total weight of 417 tonnes.

Nordlink, a green link in the truest sense of the word, is a lighthouse project for the European market integration and energy transition. The Wilster converter station has been under construction since September 2016, and the laying of the cables has begun in 2017. TenneT and the Norwegian project partner Statnett anticipate the completion of NordLink in 2020.

Picture: TenneT (picture of a previous transformer transport)

> See TenneT press release (html)

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CGS onshore transformers on site


The Bentwisch substation near the city of Rostock in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania is the future onshore converter station for the Combined Grid Solution, the first Danish-German offshore interconnector. The project is a joint venture of two TSCNET shareholders: 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and Energinet, the Danish TSO. The Combined Grid solution integrates the electricity markets of Denmark and Germany by linking the Danish Kriegers Flak wind farm with its German counterpart, Baltic 2. Now another significant step for the interconnector has been taken, as two transformers have been supplied to Bentwisch.

In combination with a double converter system, the large-scale equipment is essential for balancing the asynchronous transmission systems of Germany and Denmark. The transformers were transported from Rostock harbour to the substation per heavy-duty road transport. The second arrived in Bentwisch on the night of 29 to 30 May, and the first three weeks before. “We have thus reached another milestone on the way to commissioning the Combined Grid Solution. The transformers are the most important technical components for the back-to-back system on site,” comments Martin Henschel, specialist engineer at the 50Hertz Northern Regional Centre.

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

Picture: visavis Filmproduktion GmbH

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Transformer transport marvelled by thousands


A heavy-duty road transport of a transformer weighing almost 300 tonnes might not be daily routine for a transmission system operator (TSO), but it is nevertheless part of the operational business. For the public, such a transport can be quite a sensation, as witnessed by TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German TSOs. Thousands of intrigued spectators lined the streets to watch the event: a slowly moving road train with 32 axes, a length of 75 metres, and a total weight of more than 530 tonnes.

It took three nights to complete the 40 kilometres from Tübingen in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg to TransnetBW’s Engstlatt substation near Balingen at the foot of the Swabian Jura. At three o’clock in the morning of 30 May, the 380kV transformer finally reached its destination. Here, it will substitute the old transformer to improve the operational performance of the substation, which is the central hub for the power supply in the Zollernalb area.

Until well after midnight, the onlookers in the villages on the transport route marvelled the spectacle of the carefully navigating transport unit. Alexander Schilling, spokesperson of TransnetBW, commented on the public interest: “That really had the character of a funfair. Simply stunning. I have never experienced anything like that.”

> See report by German broadcaster SWR, in German (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “Tausende Zuschauer bei Schwertransport dabei”, in German (SWR media library)

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Platforms for Combined Grid Solution installed


The installation of all three offshore platforms for the planned Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak in the Baltic Sea has successfully been completed on 7 May. A special heavy duty crane vessel was needed as the platforms weigh 800, 1,500 and 1,800 tonnes, respectively. The platforms will not only collect the electricity from Kriegers Flak, but one of them will also be used for the Combined Grid Solution, the first Danish-German offshore interconnetor, which is a joint venture of the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and Energinet, the Danish TSO.

The Combined Grid Solution will link Kriegers Flak to the German wind farm Baltic 2 and thus integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany. According to Jens Christian Hygebjerg, project manager at Energinet, the platform installation was the “most costly risk” of the whole project. “It is therefore a great relief to see all three platforms in their rightful place.” The platforms are scheduled to be put into operation in October 2018, but only after an intensive phase of further assembly work and a series of tests under real-life conditions.

> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> See Energinet press release (html)

Picture: Jakob Fynsk / Energinet

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