TenneT to invest up to €5bn p.a. for the energy transition

31.07.2020

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT has just published its first-half 2020 report. Needless to say, the second quarter of 2020 was characterised by the corona pandemic and the extensive measures taken to ensure a safe and healthy working environment, but despite this, the TSO has made significant progress in developing the transmission grid onshore and offshore and in integrating growing amounts of renewable electricity. At the same time, TenneT has maintained a high level of supply security of 99.99% for 42m end consumers in Germany and the Netherlands.

As Europe’s first cross-border TSO, TenneT promotes the European market integration. The TSCNET shareholder increasingly benefits from its binational integrated approach to grid planning, management, and operation. Manon van Beek, TenneT’s CEO, comments: “Sharing best practices and lessons learned between our German and Dutch operations is paying off more and more in terms of an integrated approach to offshore and onshore grid expansion, better grid utilisation due to European innovations and cross-border energy system planning.”

TenneT currently operates 14 offshore grid connections, twelve in the German and two in the Dutch North Sea. The twelfth offshore grid connection in Germany, BorWin 3, was handed over to TenneT in the first half of 2020. In Dutch waters, the Borssele Alpha grid connection recently transmitted offshore wind power for the first time and the Borssele Beta grid connection has now been commissioned well ahead of schedule. While in the offshore sector experience from the German market is used for the Dutch, the situation is the other way round when it comes to underground cabling. Here, expertise from the Dutch Randstadt project is applied for the DC connections SuedLink and SuedOstLink. These two largest projects of TenneT, which are being entirely installed underground, will be essential for the transmission of wind energy from northern to southern Germany.

Such efforts require huge investments – facilitated by solid financial results: The underlying operating result (EBIT) increased to €414m in the first half of 2020. During the same period, investments in the German and Dutch high and extra-high voltage grids also increased by approximately 30% compared to the first half of 2019, but will do so much more in the future. TenneT expects a further rise in the annual investment volume to €4 to 5bn in the next years. Otto Jager, CFO of TenneT, explains: “We are going to connect growing amounts of renewable electricity to the grid while facilitating the development of a borderless European electricity market. In light of future equity funding needs, the ongoing talks with the German government about a possible equity participation, next to the Dutch State, are welcomed by TenneT.”

TenneT presents Half-year Report 2020 (picture: TenneT)

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Borssele Beta is ready for the grid

31.07.2020

Borssele Beta is the second high-voltage grid connection for offshore wind farms in Dutch territorial waters of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT. Like Borssele Alpha, the first Dutch offshore connection, it transmits green electricity generated in the Borssele wind farm area ashore, in this case from the Borssele III, IV and V wind farms. The operators of these three farms can hook up their wind turbines to the high-voltage grid one month earlier than scheduled, as TenneT has just received the “Grid Readiness” certification from the internationally accredited registrar and classification society DNV GL. This means that Borssele Beta fully complies with the criteria of the “Ontwikkelkader windenergie op zee”, the Offshore Wind Energy Development Framework of the Dutch Government.

The Borssele III, IV and V wind farms will have a total capacity of 700MW. The electricity generated here is collected by the offshore transformer platform, which converts the voltage from 66kV to 220kV for transmission via submarine cables to the onshore substation in Borssele. For feeding into the high-voltage grid, the voltage is then converted to 380kV. Marco Kuijpers, Director Offshore Projects at TenneT, comments on the rapid realisation: “We are proud of the fact that the second part of the Borssele high voltage connection is already complete and was realised within budget. Despite all the Covid-19 challenges, we were successful in continuing with the works; a huge achievement from all the contract parties involved.”

By the end of 2023, TenneT will have installed 3.5GW of offshore grid connections in the Netherlands, of which the first 1.4GW have already been achieved with Borssele Alpha and Beta. The next projects are Hollandse Kust (zuid) Alpha and Beta, followed by Hollandse Kust (noord). For these wind farms, TenneT will deploy five identical 700MW transformer platforms and identical 220kV cable connections. This standardisation allows TenneT to realise these projects faster, more efficiently, and more economically. The governmental Dutch follow-up roadmap for offshore development provides for an additional 6.1GW of offshore wind farms from 2024 to the end of 2030, located in the wind energy areas Hollandse Kust (west), Ten Noorden van de Waddeneilanden and IJmuiden Ver. Only for the first two, TenneT will again use standardised 700MW platforms. The efficient connection of IJmuiden Ver, located further out in the North Sea, partly requires other technologies based on DC instead of AC. IJmuiden Ver will have two offshore transformer platforms with a capacity of 2GW each, which is unique in the offshore wind industry.

The Borssele Beta offshore grid connection of TenneT is ready for transmission (picture: TenneT)

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TenneT records 21% increase in offshore transmission

28.07.2020

In the first half of 2020, the wind energy transmitted from the North Sea ashore by the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT rose to 11.51TWh. This represents an increase of 21.1% compared with the 9.51TWh in the first half of 2019, bringing the North Sea’s share of total wind power generation in Germany to 15.6%. The maximum feed-in volume from offshore wind farms in the German North Sea was 6,035MW on 2 January 2020. By 30 June, the generation capacity of the German North Sea wind farms reached 6,679MW, a volume which is exceeded by TenneT’s offshore transmission capacity of 7,132MW. This amount, which is higher than the German government’s 2020 target (6.5GW for the North and Baltic Seas combined), is currently being achieved with twelve German offshore grid connections.

Tim Meyerjürgens, COO of the TSCNET shareholder, comments on the impressive figures: „The expansion and integration of offshore wind energy is of central importance for the European energy transition.” And offshore development is also keeping pace in the Dutch market: “With Borssele alpha and – from mid-August – Borssele beta, we have now also successfully completed the first two offshore connections in the Dutch North Sea.” TenneT promotes capacity expansion with technical innovations and, according to Meyerjürgens, wants to remain a driving force in the offshore sector: “Ever since TenneT set the standard for plastic-insulated DC cables at 320kV in the offshore sector around ten years ago, we have been defining a new global benchmark for the future with our 525kV DC subsea cable system and its transmission capacity of two GW.”

The 525kV development programme should lead to a standardised cable system that the TSO can employ by 2030 for the three German North Sea projects BalWin1, BalWin2, BalWin3 and the two Dutch projects IJmuiden Ver alpha and beta as well as in potential further projects of equal power and voltage. TenneT is expecting lower costs, greater security of supply and less impact on the environment. These efforts require considerable investment: “We have an investment programme of around €20bn earmarked for connecting offshore wind energy in the Netherlands and Germany by 2030,” explains Meyerjürgens. Important in this context are also hydrogen and hybrid initiatives. The North Sea Wind Power Hubs proposed by TenneT explicitly include power to gas concepts. Furthermore, in June, TenneT proposed to the EU and the Dutch and German governments an integrated energy system approach for the international offshore development.

TenneT increased its transmission of offshore wind energy by 21% in the first half of 2020 (picture: TenneT)

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50Hertz aims for 100% renewables by 2032

03.07.2020

50 Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the north-east of Germany, has launched a climate and economic policy initiative for its control area, which consists of the federal states in eastern Germany and the city states of Berlin and Hamburg. The concrete goal is to cover 100% of the electricity demand in the 50Hertz grid area with renewable energies by the year 2032 and the secure integration of green electricity into the transmission system. As the annual average share of renewables in 2019 was around 60%, the initiative is entitled: “From 60 to 100 by 2032: for an economy with prospects”.

The “100 by 32” initiative corresponds to and exceeds the objectives of the EU Commission’s “Green Deal”, according to which Europe should become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The TSCNET shareholder will focus the entire corporate strategy on the new ambitious target and – in compliance with the legal requirements for safe and reliable grid operation – will mobilise its extensive expertise. Since, according to 50Hertz CEO Stefan Kapferer, further considerable efforts are necessary not only in the own company but also in politics, economy, and society, the TSO offers to support the German federal and state governments in developing suitable areas and potential for wind and solar energy, off- and onshore

Kapferer comments further on the strategy: “The transformation of our electric power supply has entered a new phase. Today’s parallel existence of a conventional fossil generation system and an energy system based on renewable sources is coming to an end. Wind and solar energy must be able to provide ancillary services in the future. We are determined to drive this transition forward, but now with new and full speed.”

50Hertz launches the corporate initiative “From 60 to 100 by 2032” for a complete coverage of electricity demand with renewable energies (picture: 50Hertz)

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50Hertz starts PtH cooperation in Hamburg

09.06.2020

In the control area of the north-east German transmission system operator (TSO) 50Hertz, the installed renewable energy capacity is particularly high. To avoid taking wind turbines off the grid in case of overcapacity, the TSCNET shareholder intends to efficiently use this green excess electricity. 50Hertz is already planning the construction of a Power-to-Heat (PtH) plant in the Baltic Sea port city of Rostock, and now another PTH cooperation in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg complements the cross-sector ambitions of the TSO.

This time the energy service provider GETEC is the partner of 50Hertz. Both companies intend to provide green district heating in the densely populated Mümmelmannsberg district of Hamburg. GETEC operates two combined heat and power (CHP) plants running on natural gas that supply around 7,000 residential and commercial units. In future, one of the two CHP units is to be regulated down if, during high wind conditions, more electricity is generated in northern Germany than can be transmitted to the south. This is where the PtH plant with an output of 5MW comes into play to convert the excess green electricity in an electrode boiler into emission-free district heating. The CHP and PtH units will be coordinated by smart control technology.

The investment costs amounting to €1.2m are fully covered by 50Hertz and the system is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2021. Dr Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, emphasises that the cooperation represents the first time for 50Hertz to support the construction of such a facility in a large city. The Hamburg PtH cooperation enables 50Hertz to “relieve a bottleneck in the extra-high voltage grid between Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein to some extent and contribute to the more efficient use of wind power from the northern Germany”.

50Hertz launches a PtH cooperation in Hamburg to use excess wind energy (picture: Jermaine Ee, Unsplash)

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Foundation laid for DolWin6 converter

28.05.2020

With a dozen operating offshore connection systems for wind farms in the German North Sea totalling a transmission capacity of 7.132GW, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT has already in 2019 exceeded the German government’s expansion target for offshore wind energy capacity for 2020 by more than half a million GW. A further 900MW will be provided by DolWin6, like the predecessor projects DolWin3 and BorWin3 a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) connection. The DolWin kappa offshore platform in the Wadden Sea near the island of Norderney will convert the three-phase wind current into DC for transmission via a 45 kilometre submarine cable to the East Frisian mainland and from the landing point via an underground cable, also around 45 kilometres long, to the TenneT site in Emden/East.

Here, the TSCNET shareholder is constructing the DolWin6 onshore converter station and a substation on 23,500m² to reconvert the DC into three-phase current for feeding into the onshore extra-high voltage grid. A significant milestone for DolWin6 was reached on 27 May: The laying of the foundation at the converter construction site was celebrated in Emden/East by embedding a time capsule with coins, a regional daily newspaper, and construction plans into the foundation stone. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was only celebrated with the most important project managers from TenneT and the plant constructor Siemens.

Concrete preparations for DolWin6 began in the summer of 2017 and 2018 with horizontal drilling on Norderney. In September 2019, the foundation work commenced in Emden/East. Work on the DolWin kappa offshore platform at a dockyard in Cádiz/Andalusia also started in mid-2019 and the DolWin6 cable laying will follow from summer this year. The completion of the HVDC offshore connection is scheduled for 2023.

TenneT celebrated the laying of the foundation stone for the DolWin6 converter in Emden/East (picture: TenneT)

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Demolition makes room for DC substation

14.05.2020

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“)

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First section of new 50Hertz 380kV line in operation

13.05.2020

The 37-kilometre line section between the Stendal West and Wolmirstedt substations in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt is the southernmost stretch of an overhead line construction project, which runs for a total of over 200 kilometres from Güstrow in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to Wolmirstedt. With this 380kV line construction, TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from north-east of Germany, is successively replacing a 220kV line dating from the 50s of the last century. On 12 May, 50Hertz commissioned the Stendal West-Wolmirstedt section, whose construction costs amounted to around €40m.

In May 2019, the TSO had started erecting the 87 Pylons of this first stretch of the new transmission line, which could be installed along the entire length of the section parallel to an existing 380kv line. This continuous line bundling follows the 50Hertz planning principle of using existing infrastructure wherever possible. After the conclusion of the approval procedures, construction, and commissioning of all six sections towards Güstrow, 50Hertz will completely dismantle the old 220kV line Güstrow-Wolmirstedt.

The main objective of the 50 Hertz construction project is to improve the transmission capacity for wind power. Dr. Frank Golletz, CTO of 50Hertz, comments on the progress of the extra-high voltage line: “The increase in transmission capacity is necessary to enable us to better manage the high volume of wind energy in the northern regions of our control area and to integrate it securely into our grid. With the commissioning of this first construction phase, we have come a step closer to this target.”

50Hertz has commissioned the new 380kV overhead line between Stendal West and Wolmirstedt (picture: City of Stendal, Germany)

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50Hertz turns to green financing

08.05.2020

The grid connections Ostwind 1 and 2 to the offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea northeast of the German island of Rügen belong to the infrastructure projects of 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), which contribute to a sustainable European energy future. Ostwind 1 is already in operation and connects the wind farms “Wikinger” and “Arkona” via two offshore platforms with the Lubmin substation in the Bay of Greifswald. The Ostwind 2 project will connect the nearby wind farms “Arcadis Ost 1” and “Baltic Eagle” to the German extra-high voltage grid. The future transmission capacity of both connections is approximately 1.5GW.

To financially secure these forward-looking projects, the TSCNET shareholder is now active on the green investment market as corporate issuer of Green Debt: On 6 May 2020, Eurogrid GmbH, the parent company of 50Hertz, has issued its first Green Bond in the amount of €750m on the regulated market, thus securing the liquidity for the two offshore projects and further grid expansion necessary for the energy transition.

Marco Nix, CFO of 50Hertz, comments on the bond issue: “With the first Green Bond in our company’s history, we are securing part of the necessary investments in the grid infrastructure over the next few years.” Especially in view of the current difficult economic circumstances, the great interest of the financial markets in the bonds was proof of the confidence in the TSO’s sustainability strategy and investment plans. “The transaction is an important cornerstone in driving forward the expansion of our grid and thus the energy transition,” adds Marco Nix.

50Hertz has successfully issued its first Green Bond in the amount of €750m (picture: 50Hertz)

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TenneT develops 525kV HVDC offshore cable system

20.04.2020

In just 10 years, 40% of the Dutch electricity demand will be covered by offshore wind power. Furthermore, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT will increase the German offshore grid connection capacity to 17GW by 2030. To meet these high ambitions, the TSCNET shareholder expands its current connection plans and additionally intends to implement a total of five 2GW offshore connections in the Dutch IJmuiden Ver wind energy area and in the German LanWin and BalWin areas. However, since such 2GW offshore grid connections do not yet exist, innovative project development is necessary.

The integration of 2GW offshore grid connections into the onshore grid requires a suitable certified cable system that operates at a voltage level of 525kV DC using extruded insulation types. TenneT has contracted a total of eight cable suppliers to develop these “next-level” submarine cables for the intended high-performance offshore connections. An extruded 525kV high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable system with a 2GW output is currently not implemented in any project worldwide and would thus set a new standard for the connection of offshore wind farms.

The new cable system is expected to reduce manufacturing and installation costs for the entire connection concept, including the HVDC offshore and onshore transformer stations. A reduction in dredging costs is also anticipated, as all cables can be laid in a single trench. Moreover, fewer offshore platforms and shore stations are required, resulting in lower emissions and environmental impact. The adoption of a 525kV 2GW grid concept is a logical step for TenneT after the installation of eight standard AC connections in the Netherlands. The TSO can already draw on extensive experience with DC projects in Germany.

TenneT has contracted eight cable suppliers to develop a 525kV HVDC offshore cable system with a 2GW capacity (exemplary picture of Riffgat cables: TenneT)

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