SuedLink: Regional planning offices take up work


With around 700 kilometres of underground cables to be laid and around €10b to be invested, the SuedLink 525kV line is the largest and probably the most important individual project of the energy transition in Germany. By connecting the windy regions of northern Germany with the consumption centres in the industrially highly developed south and west, “power highways” such as SuedLink are indispensable for achieving Germany’s and Europe’s climate goals. SuedLink is realised jointly by the two TSCNET shareholders TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and TransnetBW, the TSO from southwest Germany.

SuedLink has just taken the next big step: After the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) initiated the plan approval procedure for the first sections in February 2020, the two TSOs have now awarded the contracts for the regional planning offices, which are responsible for the detailed planning of the underground DC connection. These offices, some of which have already been involved in the previous SuedLink planning, take care of all operational tasks – initially in the context of the approval procedure, and later also in the supervision of construction. This includes, among other things, route mapping, construction logistics, environmental planning, and awarding of contracts for civil engineering work. On special topics such as soil investigations, they cooperate with local companies.

The overall project was divided into nine planning sections for the award of contracts. After an extensive bidding competition, a total of four companies were awarded the contract for the three northern sections under the responsibility of TenneT and the six southern sections under the responsibility of TransnetBW. TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens explains: “The offices are now preparing the detailed planning for the routing and are taking a very close look at the conditions on site.” This will help the TSOs to accurately develop appropriate routing proposals. Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, adds that, due to their local presence, the offices can optimally consider the regional conditions for the detailed planning. “They are intended to discuss the proposals together with the project developers in a close dialogue with the owners and land managers concerned and to review their advice when preparing the approval documents.”

TenneT and TransnetBW awarded the contracts for regional planning offices for the SuedLink power highway (picture: TenneT)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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Luxembourg integrated into FCR cooperation


Eight central European transmission system operators (TSOs) cooperate in the regional procurement and exchange of Frequency Containment Reserve (FCR). Their joint FCR project is the first regional cooperation in Europe to implement market harmonisation in accordance with the EU Guideline on Electricity Balancing. The participating TSOs are APG, 50Hertz, Amprion, TransnetBW, and Swissgrid – the Austrian, German and Swiss TSCNET shareholders –, the Dutch-German shareholder TenneT as well as the Belgian TSO Elia and the French TSO RTE. It is intended to extend the joint FCR procurement towards western Denmark, so that the central European TSOs are supplemented by Energinet from Denmark as a non-active member.

Luxembourg was missing in the cooperation so far, but cross-border primary control reserve (PCR) between Germany and Luxembourg is now also possible: Since 1 June 2020, balancing service providers (BSPs) from Luxembourg are participating in the joint tender for FCR cooperation. For this purpose, the TSO Amprion, whose German control area is bordering the Grand-Duchy, and the Luxembourgian TSCNET customer Creos have developed a cooperation model. Under this model, Amprion assumes the role of the connecting TSO, carries out the prequalification of the BSPs, concludes the framework agreement for PCR, and takes over the settlement with the BSPs from the Creos control area.

Since Amprion and Creos operate a joint load-frequency-control area, a pooling of technical units within this common area is permissible. Thus, a pool can include Luxembourgian as well as German units that provide balancing services. This means that a BSP may combine generation units or controllable consumer loads from both countries and offer them collectively on the PCR market.

The central European FCR cooperation was extended to Luxembourg (picture: Cedric Letsch)

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Generation adequacy in the CWE region within standards


The Pentalateral Energy Forum (PLEF) provides the framework for regional cooperation in Central Western Europe (CWE) to improve electricity market integration and security of supply. The initiative aims to give political backing to a process of regional integration towards a European energy market. As far as the concrete implementation of impulses from the initiative is concerned, eight transmission system operators (TSOs) of seven countries cooperate in the PLEF, including the TSCNET shareholders APG from Austria, Amprion and TransnetBW from Germany, Swissgrid from Switzerland, the Dutch-German TSO TenneT, and TSCNET client Creos from Luxembourg as well as the Belgian TSO Elia and RTE from France.

The PLEF is subdivided in so-called Support Groups, e.g. covering work on market integration (SG1) and on security of supply (SG2). Within the scope of the SG2 group, the eight TSOs have worked out the third edition of the Pentalateral Generation Adequacy Assessment (PLEF GAA 3.0) and have just published a corresponding report, which summarises the main findings in 71 concise pages. The study, which examines the adequacy of electricity generation in the PLEF region up to the medium-term time horizon (2025), can be considered as significant result of TSO cooperation at regional level.

The main findings are that, under base conditions, sufficient production capacity is available, so that a breach of reliability standards is not to be expected and the adequacy of production in the CWE region will be up to standard by 2025. However, adequacy simulations have also shown that adequacy risks can occur. The electrical system may be exposed to specific situations in which the system safety is under strain. Additional unforeseen events in such situations can put even greater pressure on daily system operation, which may require the activation of special measures.

The eight TSOs cooperating in the PLEF have published their joint report on regional generation adequacy assessment in Central Western Europe

> See TenneT press release (html)
> Open PLEF GAA 3.0 Report (pdf, 2.94MB)

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Demolition makes room for DC substation


After TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, was granted building permit for the ULTRANET substation on the site of the former Philippsburg nuclear power plant in March 2020, the way is now finally clear for its construction. At 6.05 in the morning of 14 May 2020, the two cooling towers on the site of the former power plant were detonated. Now the necessary construction space of around 100,000m² is created. The Philippsburg plant was shut down completely on 31 December 2019 and the building construction of the ULTRANET substation is scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2020.

Since the future Philippsburg substation is the southern end point of the supra-regional high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line ULTRANET, it will be one of the most important energy hubs in Germany’s soon-to-be energy landscape. ULTRANET, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), is jointly implemented by the two TSCNET shareholders TransnetBW and Amprion. It will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of Germany to the more industrially developed southwest with low losses. In Philippsburg, the transmitted DC will be converted into AC and distributed regionally. In the reverse case, the substation enables the conversion of AC to DC, e.g. to transport excess photovoltaic power from the south to the north.

The fact that the “green” substation will feed renewable electricity into the transmission system instead of nuclear power is a representative of the entire German energy future. “The construction of our DC substation on the site of the cooling towers of the nuclear power plant is a visible sign and symbol of the progress of the energy transition,” comments Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “In future, renewable electricity will flow from the Philippsburg site through the TransnetBW transmission grid to the entire region. Thus, as the TSO in Baden-Württemberg, we ensure that our country will have the electricity it needs even in a future without nuclear power and coal.”

With the cooling towers of the Philippsburg nuclear plant detonated, TransnetBW will begin construction of the ULTRANET substation (picture: screenshot taken from video “Sprengung der Kühltürme des Atomkraftwerks Philippsburg”, in German, YouTube channel of German newspaper “Die Rheinpfalz“)

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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Amprion invests €1bn in 525kV cables for A-Nord


The DC transmission line A-Nord represents the northern part of Corridor A, which is one of the main axes of the German energy transition. The 300-kilometre line from the port city of Emden at the Dollart Bay to Osterath in the Lower Rhine region is being implemented by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). With a capacity of 2GW, A-Nord will transport wind power from the North Sea to the centres of consumption in the Rhineland and Ruhr district. The southern part of Corridor A is the Ultranet line, which is being implemented jointly by Amprion and further TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW.

Like other large-scale German DC interconnection projects that are essential to the country’s low-carbon energy future, A-Nord will be realised via underground cabling. The transmission capacity of 2GW will be achieved by 525kV cables whose efficiency significantly reduces the environmental impact but requires a special insulation material and highly competent suppliers. After extensive technical tests, Amprion has now contracted the underground cables for A-Nord. The specialist companies Prysmian Powerlink and Sumitomo Electric Industries are each supplying one cable system for A-Nord. The manufacturers will produce the systems concurrently with the construction of the line, scheduled to start in 2023.

Dr Hans-Jürgen Brick, CEO of Amprion, comments in view of the challenges to achieve a sustainable energy future: “It is essential that the grid expansion continues to progress swiftly.” Dr Klaus Kleinekorte, the TSO’s CTO, adds: “With this assignment, Amprion once again demonstrates that we are a driving force for innovative developments.”

Amprion has awarded contracts for the 525kV underground cables for the A-Nord power highway (picture: Amprion / Lutz Kampert)

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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TransnetBW presents foresight on the power grid 2050


TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), presented its study “Electricity Grid 2050” (“Stromnetz 2050”) in a Twitter online event on 22 April. The study, in which the TSCNET shareholder drafts a scenario for a largely climate-neutral energy system in Germany and Europe, is now available to anyone interested. The TSO outlines a target vision of the German energy system after the climate protection and energy transition goals have been achieved and indicates, which requirements must be met at system and grid level in a sustainable energy future.

The live-stream presentation of the study, followed by an online question and answer session, was hosted by Michael Jesberger, member of the TransnetBW executive board, together with Christian Schorn, Head of Asset Management & Operations at TransnetBW, Dr. Felix Matthes, research coordinator for energy and climate policy at the Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology, a non-profit, private-sector environmental research institute) and Helmfried Meinel, Ministerial Director of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector.

“The energy transition is progressing, and climate policy goals have been set: By 2050, the energy system in Germany should be largely climate-neutral. The transmission grid plays a decisive role in this,” explained Michael Jesberger. “With the study ‘Electricity Grid 2050’, we are revealing how a greenhouse gas-neutral energy system can look like.” By considering the time after the climate targets are reached, the study extends the time frame beyond the requirements of national planning guidelines. “With this approach of thinking the energy transition from the end, the study provides a new basis for discussion of the methodological refinement of the German Network Development Plan (NEP), which so far only plans the transmission grids ten to 15 years in advance,” stated Christian Schorn.

According to the study, it is necessary to increase the installed capacity of wind energy and photovoltaic systems by three to four times compared to 2018 to achieve the energy and climate policy goals by 2050. In addition, the heating and transport sector will have to be largely electrified, which will lead to an increase in net electricity demand of over 50%. This will only be partially compensated by the integration of the European internal electricity market and the increasing cross-border electricity trade. Hence, the transmission grid planned in the NEP is not sufficient to achieve the energy goals. The integration of renewable energies requires a set of grid extension measures that goes far beyond the previous plans. The study “Electricity Grid 2050” offers a new level of detail of the future grid and is intended to stimulate a fruitful debate.

TransnetBW has presented an in-depth study on the future electricity infrastructure (picture of Michael Jesberger, Managing Director at TransnetBW: screenshot of the study’s online presentation)

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> Visit Stromnetz 2050 website, in German (html)
> Download Stromnetz 2050 study, in German (pdf, 22.79MB)

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TransnetBW study presentation as online event


Challenging times demand creative solutions: TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), will present its study “Electricity Grid 2050” in a Twitter online event. In the study, the TSCNET shareholder develops a vision for a largely greenhouse gas-neutral energy system in Germany and Europe. TransnetBW extends the time perspective beyond the requirements of national planning guidelines and investigates what the energy system in Germany will look like once the energy and climate protection targets have been implemented. Obviously, a decisive issue for a TSO in this respect is how the appropriate grid infrastructure should develop by 2050.

The emphasis on the electricity infrastructure is fundamental for TransnetBW, because while the standards for the energy system in the year 2050 have already been determined – greenhouse gas neutrality in Germany and Europe – the planning of a demand-oriented grid in the German Network Development Plan for Electricity (NEP) is only carried out step by step and with a focus on the next 10 to 15 years. In contrast, TransnetBW is now presenting a “top down” view of the needed grid structure, which is new in its level of detail. The study also offers the opportunity to examine the transmission system designed in the NEP for its long-term sustainability.

TransnetBW is looking forward to presenting the study to all interested parties online instead of the originally intended personal presentation. The German-language livestream will start on 22 April 2020 at 10:30 a.m. under the Twitter hashtag #Stromnetz2050. Afterwards there will be the opportunity to discuss the study results live in an open question and answer session.

TransnetBW will present its vision of the future electricity infrastructure in a Twitter event on 22 April

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> Direct link to Stromnetz 2050 Twitter event, in German (html)

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DA/RE project: Redispatch 2.0


The grid security initiative DA/RE (“DAta exchange/Redispatch”) was launched in summer 2018 by TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, and entered the pilot phase on 1 April 2019. The first retrievals of redispatch capacities were carried out in summer 2019 and now the pilot phase of the Baden-Württemberg grid project has been successfully concluded. Apart from TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, three distribution system operators (DSOs) and four other partners from the fields of virtual power plants, home storage, and energy trading were involved in the DA/RE pilot phase.

Like comparable projects, DA/RE responds to the increasing volatility and decentralisation of electricity generation. In order to stabilise the entire electricity system in the future, DA/RE intends to facilitate the transition from the current redispatch with centralised large-scale power plants to new processes involving the flexibility potential of smaller decentralised generation plants and storage facilities. In the pilot phase, the DA/RE partners have achieved their first project goal: Processes for the coordinated retrieval of redispatch power from the distribution grid over several voltage levels have been developed and successfully tested in practice. The entire process chain from the exchange of planning data via DA/RE internal processes with merit-order based plant selection up to the activation of the physical plant retrieval was tested in three steps. A total of 40 plants of different technologies with rated outputs between 3kW and 30MW were involved.

Key assumptions corroborated
In the pilot phase, the coordinated redispatch retrieval was verified across all voltage levels and the basic functionality of the DA/RE concept was confirmed. With the experience and findings gained from this, the final DA/RE platform is now being developed, for which uniform processes and interfaces to automate the process steps will be defined. This will ensure the scalability and mass suitability of the system and simplify the integration of smaller grid and plant operators.

The two DA/RE project managers, Florian Gutekunst from TransnetBW and Kilian Geschermann from the DSO Netze BW, describe DA/RE as an open project: “We are looking forward to involving further interested parties from the ranks of grid and plant operators as fellow campaigners. We are all facing growing challenges due to the transformation of the generation landscape; together we can find smart solutions and better meet the challenges.”

The pilot phase of the DA/RE project for smart decentralised redispatch solutions has successfully been concluded

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> Visit DA/RE website, in German (html)

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Construction of ULTRANET substation approved


The Philippsburg nuclear power plant in the German state of Baden-Württemberg was shut down completely on 31 December 2019. On the power plant site, TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the Transmission System Operator (TSO) from the southwest of Germany, is planning a new DC substation with a required area of around 100,000m². The substation is to become one of the most important energy hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape, as the supra-regional high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line ULTRANET will be connected here to the regional 380kV AC grid.

After intensive planning, TransnetBW submitted the application for construction permit to the competent district administration for examination in June 2018. The Landratsamt Karlsruhe has now approved the plans of the TSO. “The DC substation plays a central role in integrating renewable energies into the transmission grid,” explains Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “In the future, renewable electricity will flow from the Philippsburg site to the entire region. We are thus laying a cornerstone for supply security in a future without nuclear power and coal.”

ULTRANET, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), is jointly implemented by TransnetBW and the further TSCNET shareholder Amprion. It will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of Germany to the industrially highly developed southwest. The Philippsburg substation represents the southern end point of ULTRANET. Here, the DC transmitted via ULTRANET to Philippsburg is converted into AC and distributed throughout the region. Vice-versa, the substation allows the conversion of AC into DC, e.g. to transport surplus photovoltaic power from the south to the north.

TransnetBW has received official approval for the construction of the ULTRANET substation in Philippsburg (architectural sketch of the substation: Codema International GmbH / TransnetBW)

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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Austro-German cooperation on control reserve


The Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG and the four German TSOs 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW are intensifying their cooperation in terms of balancing energy. Since December 2019, the five TSCNET shareholders have been exchanging minutes reserve, i.e. the provision of short-term power reserves to balance fluctuations in generation and consumption that affect frequency. Minutes reserve comes into play after primary control and secondary reserve, the two short-term effective balancing energies. Austria and Germany are thus the first countries in Europe to cooperate on all types of control reserve and make a significant contribution to secure electricity supply in Europe.

The cooperation with the project name “GAMMA” (German-Austrian Manual Merit Order Activation) is trendsetting, as it is the first collaboration in the field of minutes reserve to fulfil the objectives of the EU guideline for electricity balancing on a regional scale. Germany and Austria are testing a regional internal market for the joint utilisation of minutes reserve and will contribute their new experience with the integration of control energy markets to the European “MARI” (Manually Activated Reserves Initiative) project.

Beyond the requirements of the guideline, the Austro-German cooperation will be expanded in February 2020 to include the joint procurement of secondary reserves. It is intended that in an initial phase up to 80MW, later up to 280MW, can be procured across borders. The cost-benefit analysis for the allocation of cross-border transport capacities was jointly developed by the cooperating TSOs. It compares the market value of cross-border transmission capacity for the day-ahead market with that of the secondary reserve, thereby optimising procurement and determining the amount of cross-border transmission capacity allocated to the secondary reserve. This cooperation also represents a lighthouse project in Europe and anticipates the goals of the EU Clean Energy for All Europeans Package.

The Austrian TSO APG and the four German TSOs 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW exchange minutes reserve in a regional internal market

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

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