BorWin3 in operation

12.08.2019

The offshore grid connection BorWin3 operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT in the German Bight is ready for feed-in since early August. This means that the total transmission capacity for offshore wind farms in the German North Sea is already 7.132GW. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has thus not only met the German government’s expansion targets for sustainable North Sea wind power – 6.5GW by 2020 – but has significantly exceeded them.

BorWin3, TenneT’s twelfth offshore grid connection project, brings a further 900MW capacity. After BorWin1 and BorWin2, it is the third connection that the TSO has implemented near the East Frisian island of Borkum using DC technology. The corresponding converter and transformer station were built at TenneT’s Emden/Ost site to feed the green energy into the onshore extra-high voltage grid. BorWin3 bridges a total distance of 160km. The submarine cable is 130km long and the last section ashore to Emden/Ost is completed by underground cabling.

The TSO can be satisfied with its own offshore progress, but TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens calls for further efforts, as the current rate of offshore wind expansion in Europe is not sufficient to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. “An accelerated, large-scale and internationally coordinated expansion is necessary,” explains Meyerjürgens. In this context, TenneT has just presented a feasibility study of the North Sea Wind Power Hub concept for the implementation of wind power distribution hubs in the North Sea. Meyerjürgens points out that with an internationally coordinated approach the connection and integration of large offshore wind energy capacities could be much more effective and cost-efficient than with continued individual national planning.

In early August, the offshore grid connection BorWin3 of TenneT was put into operation (picture of the offshore converter platform BorWin gamma: TenneT)

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TenneT on track for the energy transition

31.07.2019

Highly satisfactory business results and maintenance of the high level of 99.99% security of supply, are hallmarks of the half year report of the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder Tennet. The latter is a growing challenge for the transmission system operator (TSO) because of the increased feed-in of volatile renewable energy. But above all, the report illustrates the commitment of the TSO to the European energy transition.

To take further steps in shaping the energy system of the future, TenneT has launched a series of strategic initiatives and partnerships to join forces across sectors. TenneT is participating in a German power-to-gas pilot project and is working together with regional grid operators and market partners on smart solutions to optimise the use of existing electricity infrastructure. The TSO is also involved in blockchain pilots to create flexibility for balancing the power system from decentralised sources.

TenneT has further strengthened its position as a leading offshore TSO. In Germany, TenneT has awarded DolWin 5, the 14th offshore grid connection. TenneT will increase its current offshore transmission capacity from 6,232MW in the German North Sea to almost 9GW by 2024. In the Netherlands, too, the development of the offshore grid with the Borssele Alpha and Beta projects is on schedule. TenneT intends to provide a total of 10.6GW of connection capacity for Dutch offshore wind farms by 2030. The TSO is also carrying out several onshore projects to ensure the transport of the growing amount of green electricity and thus security of supply in its control areas. Important interconnecting projects are the NordLink cable connection, which is currently being built to directly link the German and Norwegian markets for the first time. The COBRAcable between the Netherlands and Denmark has “landed” at the Dutch shore and will go into operation this year.

These developments are complemented by solid and impressive figures: Underlying operating result (EBIT) rose from €362m (first half of 2018) to €407m in the first half of 2019. €1,094m (first half of 2018: €904m) were invested in the Dutch and German high-voltage grids (of which €612m in Germany) and a total of €1.75bn green bonds were successfully issued. Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the report: “We have embarked on an irreversible transition to a sustainable society and a new energy system. This requires investments, not only in new electricity connections, but also in innovations and digitalisation. We have to move to holistic energy system thinking and also work on solutions to make better use of the existing high-voltage grids. We are convinced that this is the way forward to limit social costs and at the same time maintain a very high security of supply.”

TenneT presents its half year report 2019 (picture: TenneT)

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High growth in renewables in the 50Hertz area

17.07.2019

The generation of power from wind and sun is increasing steadily and strongly in the control area of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the north-eastern German transmission system operator (TSO). 21.6TWh of wind power were generated in the first half of 2019, compared with only 16.6TWh in the corresponding period of the previous year. In the same time, photovoltaic generation amounted to 6TWh, which is an increase of almost 170GWh. This corresponds with the rise in the installed capacity of onshore and offshore wind turbines, which totalled 19.6GW in mid-2019 (mid-2018: 18.9GW) and the installed capacity of photovoltaic systems, which reached 11.1GW (mid-2018: 10.6GW).

Despite this capacity increase and the incrementing feed-in of electricity into the grid, 50Hertz was able to maintain stable costs for congestion management, such as interventions in the operation of conventional power plants and the temporary shutdown of renewable energy facilities. In the first half of 2019, redispatch costs amounted to around €13m and the costs for feed-in management to around €48m.

This increase in renewable generation and installed capacity from renewable facilities shows that northern and eastern Germany make an indispensable contribution to achieving the German government’s target of a 65% share of renewable energies in nationwide electricity consumption by 2030. However, from the TSO perspective of 50Hertz, the necessary grid extension must be pushed ahead in parallel to be able to transmit the green electricity to the consumption centres in the south and to keep congestion management costs under control.

The generation of electricity from renewable sources is increasing in the control area of 50Hertz (picture showing the transformer platform of the Baltic Sea wind farm Arkona: 50Hertz)

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TenneT’s “sea harvest” increases

15.07.2019

9.51TWh – this is the considerable total amount of offshore wind power that TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), transmitted from sea to land in the first half of 2019. This means that the first half of 2018 (8.17TWh) will be exceeded by a whopping 16%, while on the German market offshore wind energy accounts for a strong 15% of total wind energy generation. At the same time, the cost efficiency of new offshore grid connection systems has further improved in recent months through the standardisation of TenneT’s offshore grid connection systems and the combined expertise of TenneT as a leading TSO at sea.

With the connections currently planned and under construction, TenneT will increase offshore transmission capacity in the German North Sea to almost 9GW by 2024. However, current efforts in Europe will not be sufficient to achieve the climate targets of the Paris Agreement. TenneT therefore calls for a stronger expansion of offshore wind energy in Europe to create a low carbon energy future. TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens refers to international studies and scenarios that indicate that “an accelerated and large-scale roll-out is necessary”.

In this context, Meyerjürgens also points to the North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH) concept, for which a positive feasibility study has just been carried out. The North Sea has great potential for offshore wind power, and the NSWPH consortium’s approach could result in 180GW of offshore wind power by 2045. Meyerjürgens explains: “A future internationally coordinated approach could implement the connection and integration of a roll-out of large-scale offshore wind energy more effectively and at considerably lower costs of up to 30% than with continued individual national planning.”

Offshore wind energy transmission by TenneT rose to 9.51TWh in the first half of 2019 (picture of SylWin Alpha converter platform: Tennet)

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TSO offshore connections are most cost-effective

26.06.2019

In most European countries with offshore wind farms, the respective transmission system operators (TSOs) are responsible for connecting these offshore facilities to the onshore grid, which they also operate. The TSCNET shareholders affected by this arrangement include the north-eastern German TSO 50Hertz, the Danish TSO Energinet and the Dutch-German TSO TenneT. But obviously this handling is not the only one possible. In the UK, for instance, the developer of the particular offshore wind farm is also responsible for its grid connection.

In concrete terms, this means that in the UK the offshore grid connection after its completion is sold to commercial investors and a so-called OFTO (Offshore Transport Owner) is established. But which model, the TSO model or the OFTO model, causes the lowest costs for consumers and thus for society?

The internationally accredited registrar and the world’s largest classification society, DNV GL, has investigated this question in more detail. The main outcomes of this study are that in the OFTO system the costs for the development of offshore connections are significantly higher than in Denmark and the Netherlands. In contrast, the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) of the Dutch and Danish offshore connections is significantly lower. The LCOE assesses the average total cost of constructing and operating an energy generating asset over its lifetime divided by its total energy output over that lifetime.

DNV GL has documented lower costs for the TSO connection of offshore wind farms than for the OFTO solution (illustration of Borssele Alpha: TenneT)

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Imminent test operation for COBRAcable

24.06.2019

COBRAcable, the first direct interconnection between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands, is a joint project of the two TSCNET shareholders Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO. Since spring, the partner TSOs have been preparing the commercial operation of COBRAcable. TenneT and Energinet have now launched an Urgent Market Messages (UMM) site for the commissioning of COBRAcable, which is scheduled to take place between 3 July 2019 and 6 September 2019.

A total of around 30 individual tests with different energy charges in the respective transport directions are planned. It is expected that the full capacity of COBRAcable will be available for the day ahead and intraday markets from 7 September. TenneT and Energinet then will offer financial transmission rights on COBRAcable at monthly and annual auctions. The first auction is expected to take place after a full month of stable operation, so probably the auction for November 2019, which will be held in October.

By promoting the exchange of surplus wind energy, COBRAcable will improve the cohesion of the European transmission system and the integration of the electricity market. It will also make a sustainable contribution to the low carbon energy future by allowing future offshore wind farms in the North Sea to be hooked up to the DC interconnector.

Energinet and Tennet will carry out individual tests of COBRAcable as of 3 July (picture: screenshot taken from TenneT video “COBRAcable Cable Pull Fano Denmark Film”, YouTube)

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RGI Award for the Combined Grid Solution

24.05.2019

On 23 May, during the Energy Infrastructure Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) presented the “Good Practice of the Year” awards to the 2019 winners. RGI, an association of non-governmental organisations and transmission system operators (TSOs) from all over Europe, annually awards the “Good Practice of the Year” upon recommendation of a jury of experts since 2012. This year’s award in the category “Technological Innovation & System Integration” goes to the “Combined Grid Solution” (CGS), the world’s first hybrid interconnector by the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German TSOs, and Energinet, the TSO from Denmark.

The CGS is the first Danish-German offshore interconnector for which submarine cables have been laid between the offshore substations of the German wind farm Baltic 2 and the wind farm Kriegers Flak in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea. The renewable energy generated by the wind turbines has priority and can flow into both interconnected countries if needed. Free capacity can be used to exchange electricity between the Danish and German markets. The jury acclaimed the potential of the CGS “to be enormously consequential for the development of the North Sea and Baltic Sea resources, and its ambition of approaching 100% utilisation of the offshore grid assets”.

Elke Kwapis, Senior Project Manager Offshore at 50Hertz, acknowledged “the collaborative manner amongst all project team members from 50Hertz and Energinet” and commented: “The CGS is the first offshore hybrid interconnector that allows integrating high shares of renewables and at the same time maximising the use of existing infrastructure for offshore wind grid connection.” Per Obbekær, project manager at Energinet, stressed the climate-specific impact of the CGS and the acute need for action: “We need to push all the known technologies and constantly focus on being innovative in our approach to new technologies in order for us to reach our climate goals cross borders.”

By the way, this is not the first time that 50Hertz has received the prize. In 2017, the TSO was awarded in the category “Communication & Participation” for the “DialogMobil”, an information van that functions as a kind of mobile citizen’s office.

The Combined Grid Solution project of 50Hertz and Energinet receives the “Good Practice of the Year Award” from the RGI (picture: RGI)

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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)

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Ultranet progresses

17.05.2019

The Ultranet substation on the grounds of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant (which will be completely shut down by 31 December 2019) in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg is to become one of the most significant power hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape. Here, the supra-regional DC line Ultranet will be connected to the regional 380kV grid of TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Ultranet will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of the country to the industrially highly developed southwest. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is jointly carried out by TransnetBW and further TSCNET shareholder Amprion.

Last July, construction work began in Philippsburg with the groundbreaking ceremony for a new gas-insulated switchgear. Now the work on the new DC substation is being initiated, as TransnetBW officially started the filling of the construction site with a symbolic first excavator operation on 16 May. “This is a special day for the ULTRANET DC project and for the energy transition,” declared Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, to around 50 invited representatives from politics, business and society. Dr. Götz continued that now a “visible sign for the progress of the project and our aim to bring renewable electricity to Philippsburg and the region” had been set.

In the meantime, the project partner Amprion has also made progress for Ultranet, albeit in a different domain: In keeping with the motto that it is better to talk to each other than about each other, the TSO on 15 and 16 May has invited municipalities, specialist authorities and citizens’ initiatives to exchange information on the Ultranet planning status in the Rheingau-Taunus and Main-Taunus districts. A first public participation procedure had earlier led to 15 alternative routes in the respective districts, which Amprion examined in more detail. Based on the additional expert exchange, Amprion wants to better integrate the local knowledge and expertise of the participants for the comparison of variants and their environmental impacts.

TransnetBW has started preparing the construction site for the Ultranet substation in Philippsburg (picture: TransnetBW)

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66kV technology reduces offshore connection costs

08.05.2019

In future offshore projects, TSCNET shareholder TenneT will continue to reduce grid connection costs through standardisation and innovative technology. For the DolWin5 offshore grid connection in the so-called DolWin cluster in the south-western part of the German Bight, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has contracted a consortium consisting of Aibel and Keppel FELS with ABB as subcontractor with the design, engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning of a 900MW offshore HVDC converter platform and an onshore converter station.

The outstanding feature of the DolWin5 project is the innovative connection concept. The innovative 66kV technology from TenneT, which will be deployed, represents a new generation of low-cost offshore grid connections. The wind turbines will be directly connected to the offshore platform without the need for separate substations for the wind turbines. This direct connection not only omits any further substations but also the 155kV three-phase power cables for linking the wind farm to the offshore platform. Instead, 66kV three-phase cables will be used.

“With DolWin5 we open a new chapter in offshore grid connection technology: For the first time, the wind turbines are directly connected to our offshore platform,” comments TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens and adds: “This innovative technology results in an enormous cost reduction. The new direct connection will save around €200m in macroeconomic terms.”

TenneT opts for the innovative 66kV three-phase technology for future offshore connections (Picture: TenneT)

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