Randstad 380kV North Ring in operation

14.10.2019

The four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) and their surroundings constitute the Randstad region in the Netherlands. With a population of more than 8 million people, it is Europe’s most densely populated area. Randstad has a high energy demand, which needs to be reliably met and secured also in the future. However, infrastructure construction measures are particularly challenging in such a conurbation. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has now made an elementary contribution to security of supply of the Randstad.

After a construction period of five years, the 60-kilometer-long Randstad 380kV North Ring power line was put into operation on 10 October. More than 1000 people from the region, 300 landowners, over 25 responsible authorities, 13 contractors and 200 TenneT employees were involved in its construction. The new high-voltage line will reliably supply millions of households and companies with electricity. It will also provide the transmission capacity required for green electricity from North Sea wind farms. As a complementary measure, the existing 150kV connections in the region were adapted and two new high-voltage substations have been built in Beverwijk and Vijfhuizen.

At 151 locations along the route, Tennet installed innovative Wintrack pylons that consume less space, reduce magnetic field zones and, due to their slim and streamlined shape, fit much better into their surroundings than conventional steel lattice pylons. Ten kilometres of the North Ring have been laid underground. The aluminium cables used by TenneT are a novelty. They are cheaper than conventional materials and conduct electricity more efficiently, which means that their carbon footprint is smaller.

TenneT has commissioned the Randstad 380kV North Ring (picture of the opening ceremony with TenneT CEO Manon van Beek and COO Ben Voorhorst: TenneT)

Linkup
> See TenneT press release (html)

See article on single page

First cables of ALEGrO installed

27.09.2019

The “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay” (ALEGrO) will be the first direct interconnector of the German and Belgian electricity grids. Its transmission capacity of 1,000MW is going to significantly increase cross-border electricity flows and security of supply in the regions surrounding the new converter stations at the respective ALEGrO end points, Niederzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is jointly being implemented by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and the Belgian TSO Elia.

In the summer of 2019, several teams were working simultaneously at different points along the 41km-long ALEGrO section in Germany on the installation of the conduit system for the underground cables. Underground cabling is used exclusively for the entire German-Belgian power bridge. Due to the dry summer, construction work on the DC link has progressed rapidly: 60 percent of the cable conduits have already been completed. Amprion is now beginning to pull the 320kV cables successively into the conduits, initially in Niederzier, where the construction of the new ALEGrO converter plant is also progressing well.

Amprion starts the installation of ALEGrO underground cables (picture: Rheinhard Nießing / Amprion)

Linkup
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

Central project management and office for SuedLink

24.09.2019

The SuedLink extra-high voltage line is not only the most important individual project of the energy transition in Germany, but also the largest underground cable project in the world: Around 700 kilometers of cable will be laid and around ten billion euros invested. By connecting the windy regions of northern Germany with the consumption centres in the industrially highly developed south, “power highways” such as SuedLink are indispensable for achieving Germany’s and Europe’s climate goals. SuedLink is implemented jointly by the two TSCNET shareholders TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and TransnetBW, the TSO from southwest Germany.

In order to efficiently advance the further approval procedure and the subsequent construction of SuedLink, the two TSOs have commissioned the international technical service company Jacobs as central service provider. The aim is to coordinate and control the various tasks such as planning, approval, obtaining easements and construction under one roof. This makes SuedLink the first major project in Germany in which an external central service provider is involved. TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens explains why the two partners decided on a model that has proven itself many times in such large-scale projects on the international market: “The schedule for implementation is challenging. At the same time, the expectations of politics and the public continue to rise. For this very reason, controlling and coordination play such an important role.”

The commissioning of Jacobs is accompanied by the opening of the central SüdLink office in Würzburg, Lower Franconia. Together with the central service provider, TransnetBW and TenneT will initially create 130 jobs there, the number of which will rise to 250 in the course of the project. To better incorporate regional knowledge into the planning process, further decentralised project offices are to follow along the route. Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, comments on the development: “By commissioning a central service provider and setting up a joint project facility in Würzburg, we have laid the foundations for the successful implementation of this major project.” The staff in Würzburg will include engineers, archaeologists, landscape planners, biologists, geologists, and project managers, all joining forces for Europe’s energy future.

TenneT and TransnetBW commission a central service provider for the implementation of SuedLink (picture: TenneT / Katja Schubert)

Linkup
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> See TransnetBW press release on the office opening, in German (html)

See article on single page

New ploughing technology for cable laying under test

10.07.2019

The 380kV line from Wahle in the German federal state of Lower Saxony to Mecklar in the state of Hesse is one of the underground cable pilot projects laid down in the German Power Grid Expansion Act (Gesetz zum Ausbau von Energieleitungen – EnLAG). For the construction of the line, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is testing a new ploughing technology for laying empty conduits, into which the three-phase underground cables will later be inserted.

The so-called multiple ploughing method was presented today in the Lower Saxony village of Wartjenstedt (near Hildesheim) to representatives from politics, authorities, associations and the media, as well as farmers and land users. At a test track of around 200 metres, the cable plough specialist company Frank Föckersperger and TenneT demonstrated how the specially developed cable plough can be used for the Wahle-Mecklar project.

Olaf Lies, Minister for the Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection of Lower Saxony, was impressed by the demonstration: “The test in Wartjenstedt shows that when installing underground cables, it is possible to minimise interference with the existing soil structure and reduce construction costs and time by using new laying techniques.” TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens complements: “TenneT aims to introduce the multiple ploughing method to the state-of-the-art technology to accelerate the grid extension. After about three years of research, it is a great success to test this important innovation on site for Germany’s longest 380kV underground cable section.”

If the test phase for the plough, which is to last until mid-October 2019, is successful, TenneT intends to use the new method on suitable sections of the Wahle-Mecklar project on a trial basis in spring 2020. Depending on the test results and the respective local conditions, TenneT expects a significantly reduced construction time for underground cable lines when using the multiple plough. Since experience with cable ploughing technology has so far only been available for lower voltage levels, TenneT is once again doing pioneering work to design the energy transition grid and establish new technologies.

TenneT is conducting field tests on new ploughing technology for laying underground cables (picture: TenneT)

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

See article on single page

50Hertz committed to landscape protection

21.05.2019

In the Sülzetal, in the middle of the fertile Magdeburger Börde in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, there are salt marshes and meadows worthy of protection. Since two of the corridor alternatives for the supra-regional DC project “SuedOstLink” of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz run through the area of the Sülzetal, the German transmission system operator (TSO) is committed to ecological compensation. Therefore, 50Hertz cooperates with the “Stiftung Kulturlandschaft Sachsen-Anhalt”, a foundation supported by agricultural associations, to establish a comprehensive biotope network by enhancing and preserving ecologically valuable areas.

The foundation has set up an “eco-account”, and 50Hertz is the largest depositor to date. 50Hertz had already transferred €1m in 2017, and in 2020, the TSO will pay in a further €1.7m. The deposits can later be used for compensatory and replacement measures for the underground cables of the SuedOstLink, for example to create biodiverse habitats for animals and plants on uncultivated areas. SuedOstLink itself is a central component of the German energy transition, as it will ensure that large quantities of wind power are transmitted from the north-east of Germany to the south, where nuclear power plants will gradually be decommissioned.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Dalbert, Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister for the Environment, Agriculture and Energy, informed herself on 20 May about the ecological benefits of the cooperation and acknowledged the Sülzetal project as an example of how “valuable nature conservation measures can be implemented in connection with infrastructure projects”. Dr. Frank Golletz, Managing Director and CEO of 50Hertz, commented that the cooperation “shows that it is possible, on the one hand, to effectively compensate for interventions in nature and, at the same time, to create an attractive local recreation area for the people of the region in the immediate vicinity of the possible SuedOstLink routings”.

50Hertz cooperates with a foundation for landscape protection to establish a biotope network as compensation for SuedOstLink (picture: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls; from left to right: Dr. Frank Golletz, Prof. Dr. Claudia Dalbert, shepherd Jürgen Maurer, Dr. Jens Birger, Managing Director of the Stiftung Kulturlandschaft Sachsen-Anhalt)

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

See article on single page

Significant progress for ALEGrO

03.05.2019

October 2018 saw the start of construction of ALEGrO, the “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay”, which is the first direct interconnector of the German and Belgian electricity grids. With a transmission capacity of 1,000MW, ALEGrO will increase cross-border electricity flows and, at the same time, supply security in the western German region of Aachen-Cologne. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is realised jointly by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and the Belgian TSO Elia. Only a few months after the start, Amprion can already report some great strides in the construction work.

Underground cabling is used for the entire ALEGrO route (approx. 49km in Belgium and 41km in Germany) and two new converters are being installed at each end of ALEGrO at the substations Oberzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium. The coordination effort for the German-Belgian power bridge, which crosses numerous roads, waters or forests, is considerable: Explosive ordnance clearance and the demolition of remnants of world war bunkers are daily business, but of course archaeological investigations and nature conservation are also part of today’s construction standard.

Several teams are working simultaneously at different points along the route in Germany, laying cable conduits into which the conductor cables will later be drawn. 5km of the conduit system have already been completed and 25km are currently under construction. At the Oberzier substation, a hall is currently being erected to house the converter technology. Work is also proceeding well in Belgium, and according to current planning ALEGrO should be operational by the end of 2020.

Amprion is making good progress with the construction of ALEGrO (picture: screenshot taken from video “Elia ALEGrO Project – Reportage”, Elia, YouTube)

Linkup
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

Research on impacts of underground cabling

04.04.2019

In Germany, it is a political objective to advance the grid expansion by installing underground cables. The Federal Government – and also the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) – hope by this means to increase public acceptance of the high-performance power lines needed to transmit electricity from the windy north of the country to the consumption-intensive south and west. But what the resident population may welcome, unsettles those through whose land the underground routes run, especially owners and cultivators of agricultural land.

The Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT itself would like to learn more about possible impacts of underground cabling on agriculture, for example in terms of soil physics or groundwater quality. The TSO has thus entered into a research cooperation with the Georg-August-University Göttingen. Together with members of the Departments of Agricultural Soil Science as well as Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, subsection Agribusiness Management, the long-term effects of three-phase underground cables on agricultural land will be investigated over a period of six years. For this purpose, a 2500m² test field for the construction and operation of 380kV underground cables is being set up at the Reinshof test farm near Göttingen in the German state of Lower Saxony.

The research partners hope to draw concrete conclusions from the test results for the construction of extra-high voltage underground cable routes as well as recommendations for recultivation measures. For these purposes, the operation of underground cables is simulated on the test field. Empty conduits are heated through heating tapes so that their thermal characteristics correspond to the power loss of real 380kV three-phase underground cables. In addition, the effects of the construction works are investigated. In this context, it is also of interest how long it takes until the original soil condition is restored.

TenneT is researching the long-term impacts of underground power transmission cables on agricultural land (picture: TenneT)

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

See article on single page

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)

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

See article on single page

Construction start for ALEGrO

30.10.2018

As a responsible and future-conscious transmission system operator (TSO), TSCNET shareholder Amprion is committed to the European Energy Union. An outstanding project in this respect is the Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay (ALEGrO), the first interconnector to directly connect the German and Belgian electricity grids. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is being implemented jointly by Amprion and the Belgian TSO Elia. Following a pleasingly short approval procedure, the starting signal for ALEGrO was given today in the commercial area of the west German city of Aachen. Here, Amprion celebrated the start of construction with a symbolic turning of the first sod.

The ceremony was attended by numerous high-level representatives from politics, business and public life, among them Armin Laschet, Minister President of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, who commented: “ALEGrO is a milestone for cross-border power supply and not only connects North Rhine-Westphalia and Belgium, but also brings Europe closer together.” Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, complemented: “ALEGrO becomes part of the EU’s electricity highway system, which links the centres of renewable energy generation with the major consumption centres in Europe.”

For the entire ALEGrO route (about 49km in Belgium and 41km in Germany) underground cabling will be used. The cable laying work is accompanied by the installation of converters at the ends of the cable in Oberzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium, which convert AC into DC and vice versa. ALEGrO will have a transmission capacity of 1,000MW and thus provide urgently needed grid capacities for cross-border electricity flows. At the same time, ALEGrO will also strengthen supply security in the Aachen-Cologne region.

Amprion celebrated the start of construction of the Belgian-German interconnector ALEGrO (picture: Marcus Pietrek / Amprion; from left to right: Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion; Armin Laschet, Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia; Marcel Philipp, Lord Mayor of Aachen)

Linkup
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

Great progress of Strategic Grid 2025 in Switzerland

24.08.2018

It was only two days ago that the Swiss electricity transmission system operator (TSO), TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, announced the start of construction work on the new 380kV line in Canton Valais. Now the company has signalled the kick-off for building the 1.3km long line section at “Gäbihübel” near Bözberg/Riniken in the canton of Aargau, where the extra-high voltage cable for a 380kV line will be laid underground for the first time. The section is part of a line whose voltage will be increased from 220 to 380kV. The upgrade will increase the security of supply, particularly in the metropolitan areas of Zurich and Central Switzerland.

The technically challenging project is also regarded as an important step in the implementation of the so-called Strategic Grid 2025. The modernisation of the transmission grid is a key factor for a sustainable energy policy, which the country intends to implement with its Energy Strategy 2050. Each line project is developed in a multi-stage planning and approval procedure which involves federal offices, cantonal authorities, environmental associations, network operators and other stakeholders.

Swissgrid ground-breaking ceremony at “Gäbihübel” for the underground cabling near Bözberg/Riniken in the canton of Aargau (picture: Swissgrid)

See article on single page