Amprion upgrades historic line

26.11.2018

The power line from Reutlingen-Rommelsbach to Herbertingen in the German state of Baden-Württemberg crosses the southwestern ridge of the Swabian Alb on a length of 61km. Dating back to the 1920s, the overhead line operated by Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is an innovative pioneering achievement in the German transmission grid. Already in the Weimar Republic (the German state from 1918 to 1933), it was used to balance electricity between generation and consumption by connecting the Rhenish mining area with water storage facilities in the Alps.

Now it no longer meets the requirements of the energy present and future. TSCNET shareholder Amprion is therefore dismantling the old line and replacing it with new pylons and conductor ropes. Instead of the current 380 and 220kV circuits, the line will in future be equipped with two 380kV circuits. It will then enable an improved exchange of electrical energy between the wind power generation sites in the north, consumers in the residential and industrial areas, and pumped storage plants in the Alps. The line will thus strengthen regional supply as well as supra-regional transmission and is an important component of the energy transition.

A symbolic cut of the spade on 23 November in Zwiefalten-Sonderbuch on the Swabian Alb marked the official opening of Amprion’s currently largest construction site. Over the next two years, 221 old pylons will be dismantled and 181 new ones will be built. The key figures of the construction project are impressive: The TSO is investing a total of around €85m, and over 11,000 tonnes of steel, thousands of tonnes of concrete foundation and around 1500km of aluminium conductor rope will be used along the route. Due to the significance of the Reutlingen-Herbertingen line for industrial history, four old masts will be preserved as industrial monuments.

Amprion is completely rebuilding the historic Reutlingen-Herbertingen overhead line and improving it for the energy future (picture: Amprion, exemplary picture of line installation work)

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WindNODE flexibility platform in trial operation

21.11.2018

The energy transition results in a rapidly growing share of volatile electricity volumes from renewable energy generation. The participants in the energy market are thus faced with new and challenging tasks that go beyond the mere safe operation of electricity grids. Optimum capacity utilisation and maximum use of renewable, weather-dependent energy instead of the throttling of sustainable plants are key requirements of today’s market. The TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), meets the new challenges through the systematic use of flexibility.

A single example from 2017 shows the extent of today’s throttling measures: 641GWh of renewable power generation were throttled in the 50Hertz control area for grid stability reasons. In order to use otherwise lost energy, more than 70 partners from all over East Germany are working on the WindNODE project promoted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. A central component of the project is the flexibility platform, a digital procurement system that is designed to reduce the throttling of wind turbines in the event of grid bottlenecks. Via the platform, regional generators, consumers and storage operators offer TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs) flexible use of their facilities. TSOs and DSOs cooperate closely in the project.

The flexibility platform has now gone into test operation after almost two years of developing. The intention is to balance the load distribution of volatile generation quantities and to integrate them optimally into the system. By connecting or disconnecting flexible loads – for example industrial production facilities – the power consumption at appropriate grid nodes is regulated in such a way that bottlenecks and thus the throttling of wind energy are prevented and maximum use of green electricity is facilitated.

Dr. Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, emphasises the importance of both, more efficient use of the existing grid and grid extension, to achieve the German government’s renewable share targets. “We need to get into Power-to-X applications and the systematic use of flexibility. This is why the WindNODE platform comes at the right time and can help to effectively use regeneratively generated ‘excess electricity’ instead of throttling it.”

The WindNODE flexibility platform for effective use of renewable energy and congestion management in east Germany has been put into trial operation

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Approval for upgrade of Weinviertel line

12.11.2018

Transparent and comprehensible planning, extensive information for communities, landowners and residents, and the sustainable consideration of environmental interests – the efforts of the Austrian TSCNET shareholder APG have paid off: The national transmission system operator (TSO) has been validly approved to modernise and upgrade the overhead line through the Weinviertel (“wine quarter”) in the northeast of Lower Austria. APG is investing €200m in the project and construction will start in summer 2019.

The increase in capacity of the more than 70-year-old line from 220kV to mostly 380kV is to be accompanied by the bundling of infrastructure, which results in a reduction of 15km of line and 53 pylons and thus relieves the population and nature reserves. In addition, the new line will be connected to the regional distribution grid via a new substation to be built in Neusiedl/Zaya. This will significantly improve the quality of the electricity supply in the Weinviertel and is a precondition for the further integration of wind and solar energy in Lower Austria.

Dr. Ulrike Baumgartner-Gabitzer, CEO of APG, comments on the approval: “We are happy about this result as a consequence of a very transparent process involving all parties concerned.” Gerhard Christiner, CTO of the TSO, emphasises the importance of the upgrade both for supply security as well as the integration of renewables and adds: “The Weinviertel line is an essential component for the realisation of the energy and climate strategy #mission 2030 adopted by the Austrian Federal Government.”

APG has received approval to upgrade the Weinviertel line in Lower Austria (picture: photo composition)

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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)

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Successful test for the Combined Grid Solution

09.11.2018

The Combined Grid Solution is a joint offshore connection project by the two TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, one of the four German Transmission System Operators (TSOs), and the Danish TSO Energinet. The binational interconnector in the Baltic Sea will integrate the electricity systems of Denmark and Germany by linking the German wind farm Baltic 2 to the Danish wind farm Kriegers Flak. The utilisation of grid connections from offshore wind farms to couple the transmission grids of two countries is nothing less than a world premiere.

The laying of the two submarine cables “150kV-line KFE-BaZ 155“ and “150kV-line KFE-BaZ 156“ was completed at the beginning of July and the two TSOs have now successfully conducted 24-hour testing of both cables. Around noon on 6 November and in the afternoon thereafter, the two cables were energised one after the other up to the disconnector on the offshore substation OSS KFE and now are ready to transport electricity. Sebastian Wagner, Sub-Project Manager Sea cables at 50Hertz, and Energinet’s Project Manager Daniel Johan Brøndum jointly declared: “Everyone in the team worked closely together and delivered to-the-point. We are very happy and celebrate this success together.”

The submarine cables for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution of 50Hertz and Energinet were successfully tested (illustration based on pictures of 50Hertz / Sebastian Wagner)

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First TenneT Offshore Conference

07.11.2018

The EUREF Campus is the sustainability city quarter of the German capital Berlin with a climate-neutral energy supply and hence the ideal location for the first Offshore Conference of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, which took place on 6 November 2018. Headlined “Land in Sight – The Future of Offshore”, 170 decision-makers from politics, business and the media accepted the invitation of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) and took part in information panels, lectures and panel discussions. TenneT experts provided far-reaching insights into current pilot projects, information on ongoing studies, cooperations and concepts for future digital smart grid management.

“Offshore is a success story,” was how TenneT CEO Manon van Beek summed up the development to date. “Our conviction is that the second, decisive phase of the energy transition – the integration of 60, 70, 80% renewables and more – will only be successful if we address the issues in a bundled way.” This requires next to infrastructural improvements technical innovations, digitalisation, flexibility and the coupling of sectors.” Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, described the range of the TSO’s future-oriented approach: “From electric vehicles, blockchain storage and power-to-gas projects to the introduction of acceptability increasing underground cable technologies.” Wilfried Breuer, Managing Director TenneT Offshore, highlighted the company’s success in offshore development: “In the German North Sea, TenneT currently operates eleven offshore grid connection systems with a total capacity of 6,232MW to transmit wind energy from sea to land. This means that already now TenneT is almost completely meeting the German Federal Government’s expansion target of 6,500MW of offshore wind capacity by 2020.”

A key element of the conference was the North Sea Wind Power Hub, a visionary interconnection system that combines the generation, storage and transmission of wind energy with a multinational connection of the transmission systems of the North Sea riparian states. Also on display was an electric car already equipped with bidirectionally functioning batteries. As part of a pilot project, these batteries, which can both store electricity and feed it back into the grid, are used for redispatch. But what turned out to be the somehow “secret star” of the event was “ANYmal”, a special robot that – due to its highly developed motion characteristics – in test runs is already independently performing maintenance and repair work in TenneT’s onshore and offshore facilities.

TenneT held its first Offshore Conference in Berlin, Germany, which was attended by a prominent audience (picture: TenneT)

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“Siglinde” brings record feed-in

25.10.2018

This week, the windstorm “Siglinde” has not only put the north of Germany to the test, but has also brought TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), a record feed-in of wind power as well as important insights. For the first time, 50Hertz has integrated more than 15,000MW of wind power securely into the grid, 15,382MW to be precise. This new record is roughly equivalent to the output of 15 large conventional power plant units.

However, this welcome development is accompanied by a downer: The transmission system under the responsibility of 50Hertz is reaching its limits and during the “Siglinde” storm, the TSO had to resort to redispatch measures and at times had more than 3,000MW of power output throttled and simultaneously increased in other grid areas. “We are now reaching dimensions that take network control with its current means to its limits,” explains Dr. Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz.

Without the “Südwest-Kuppelleitung”, a 380kV line from the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt via Thuringia to Bavaria (also known as “Thuringian Power Bridge”), which went into full operation in September 2017, the demand for redispatch would have been higher. Dr. Biermann comments: “Despite this additional transmission capacity and the massive interventions, all our lines to the south of Germany were operating at very high capacity.” This clearly illustrates that grid extension continues to lag behind the expansion of renewable energies. “We need additional instruments for safe system operation ‒ both in the grid as well as in the market,” appeals Dr. Biermann.

The windstorm “Siglinde” reveals the need to further increase transmission capacity in Germany

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First partial feed-in from Arkona wind farm

10.10.2018

The Arkona offshore project in the south-eastern part of the “Westlich Adlergrund” wind farm cluster in the Baltic Sea near the German Island of Rügen is in the final stage of construction. In April 2018, the platform topside for the Arkona windfarm was mounted on the platform jackets. In the following months, the topside was further equipped, tested and prepared for operation. Also the corresponding grid connection, Ostwind 1, has made great progress and has now been partially implemented by TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs).

After its completion, Ostwind 1 will transmit the converted electricity from the wind turbines via a 220kV submarine cable to the Lubmin onshore transformer station in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. With the realisation of the first partial feed from Arkona during the construction phase of Ostwind 1, the development of the entire connection project is fully on schedule. Currently, 50Hertz is carrying out the remaining work along the cable route to the Arkona platform by laying another submarine cable.

With the first partial feed-in of electricity from the Arkona wind farm, 50Hertz is further advancing the Ostwind 1 offshore connection (picture: Equinor)

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Wind data for smart grid control

25.09.2018

The volatility associated with the generation of renewable energy is a well-known side effect of the energy transition, which has not made it any easier for transmission system operators (TSOs) to constantly maintain grid stability and supply security. The adaptation of the transmission grid to the requirements of the new energy landscape is progressing more slowly than the expansion of renewable energies themselves and grid overloads are therefore a common consequence. In such cases, renewable power generation must be throttled, resulting in the loss of valuable (and green) energy capacities.

In order to avoid this and also to reduce costly interventions, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, and Statkraft, Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, are investigating in a joint pilot project how the grid can be better and smarter controlled. Specifically, the two partners want to find out how TenneT can progressively exploit the feed-in forecasts of Statkraft’s northern German wind farms for intelligent grid control. The data obtained improves the calculation of grid utilisation and thus enables the TSO to identify and eliminate possible congestions at an early stage. In a second step, the direct control of wind turbines by TenneT will be tested in order to relieve grid bottlenecks.

“Every day we eliminate bottlenecks in the power grid with hundreds of interventions in conventional and renewable generation. To ensure that we only intervene as much as necessary, it is important for us to have direct access to wind turbines so that we can control them in bottleneck situations,” explains Lex Hartman, executive board member at TenneT. The smart grid initiative of TenneT and Statkraft is part of the consortium project “NEW 4.0 ‒ Norddeutsche EnergieWende” (“Northern German Energy Transition”) funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic affairs and Energy as part of the promotion programme “Schaufenster intelligente Energie ‒ Digitale Energiewende” (“Showcase Intelligent Energy – Digital Energy Transition”).

TenneT cooperates with the energy group Statkraft on a pilot project for smart grid control utilising wind data

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BorWin gamma embarks on its journey to the North Sea

12.09.2018

From Dubai around the Arabian Peninsula, through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, past Gibraltar into the Atlantic Ocean and from there further north into the western German Bight of the North Sea – it is truly a long journey that the 18,000-ton topside of the offshore converter platform BorWin gamma has embarked on. BorWin gamma is a core component of the offshore grid connection BorWin3, a 900MW connection for two offshore wind farms to be implemented by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO).

Almost exactly three years ago, the construction of the platform began in Dubai, where 10,500t of steel were used – more than for the Eiffel Tower – and 880km of cable were laid inside. Now, 13.5m working hours later, BorWin Gamma is ready for transport and will then be installed on the substructure, the so-called jacket, which was already erected in May. The platform will convert the electricity from the wind turbines into DC in order to bring it to land with as little loss as possible. BorWin gamma is connected via 160km of cable (of which 130km are undersea and 30km underground) to the Emden/Ost onshore converter station in the German state of Lower Saxony. There, the electricity is converted back into AC and fed into the extra-high voltage grid. BorWin3 will go into operation next year and then be able to supply more than 1 million households.

The offshore converter platform BorWin gamma for the BorWin3 connection by the Dutch-German TSO TenneT is ready for transport from Dubai to the North Sea (picture: TenneT)

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