Tennet launches tender for 30 billion euros
Berlin The electricity grid operator Tennet is entering a new dimension with the tender for grid connections for offshore wind farms in the German and Dutch North Sea. In order to increase long-term planning for everyone involved in the project, 15 to 20 offshore grid connections are to be allocated. The total order volume amounts to up to 30 billion euros.
So far, such tenders have only been carried out step by step, i.e. from grid connection to grid connection. For the Tennet contractors, this meant that they had to work their way from project to project – without reliable perspectives for several years.
The Tennet advance follows the growing importance of offshore wind power. Germanybut also states like that Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium have set very ambitious goals for the expansion of offshore wind power. The four countries have each other with the Esbjerg Declaration adopted in mid-May known to collectively install at least 65 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power by 2030.
A total of almost eight gigawatts of offshore wind power is currently installed in the German North and Baltic Seas. But this is just the beginning. According to the coalition agreement, this should be at least 30 GW by 2030, at least 40 GW by 2035 and at least 70 GW by 2045.
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For classification: 70 GW corresponds to the output of 70 nuclear power plants. However, offshore wind turbines only produce about half of the electricity, assuming 4500 full-load hours per year. Nuclear power plants, on the other hand, usually run almost continuously for all 8760 hours of a year.
Tennet is facing billions in investments
The rapid expansion of offshore wind power, which politicians are planning, requires massive investments in connecting the parks to the grid. What used to be done park by park must now be continued on a large scale, as far as possible across borders and planned with foresight.
Tennet follows this reasoning. The company, which is wholly owned by the Dutch state, is responsible for connecting all offshore wind farms in the Netherlands and for a large part of the connection to the power grid in Germany.
“We are breaking new ground with this large volume of tenders. Our goal is to make the implementation of the ambitious political goals more predictable,” said Tennet Manager (COO) Tim Meyerjürgens to the Handelsblatt.
So far, political guidelines and framework conditions as well as secure, long-term expansion goals have often been lacking. “The lack of calculability makes it difficult to invest in personnel and production capacities. We want to change that. We give the providers security about the project pipeline and thus long-term certainty,” said Meyerjürgens. The new approach will “enliven and advance the entire market along the value chain”.
The connection of the wind turbines at sea requires a great deal of know-how
The grid connection of offshore wind power is technically demanding. It requires the construction and installation of offshore platforms and stations on land. Few major providers – about SiemensEnergyHitachi Energy or GE – dominate the business.
The wind turbines produce alternating current, which is collected on the wind farm’s own transformer platforms and transformed to a voltage of 155 kilovolts (kV). The electricity is then forwarded from the substation platform to the transmission system operator’s converter platform via an AC grid connection system.
The electricity from several wind farms is collected on the converter platform and converted from alternating current to direct current in order to then be transported to the grid connection point on land. The transmission takes place by means of direct current in the voltage range of 320 kV, because this is considered to be particularly effective over the large distances to the grid connection point due to the comparatively low losses.
In the coming years, the grid connections of the offshore parks are to be linked across national borders. This should help to better harmonize electricity supply and electricity demand.
Federal Republic wants to join Tennet
Meyerjürgens emphasized that the large tender corresponds to EU procurement law. Tennet itself has “a clear mandate and at the same time planning security” with the electricity network development plan (NEP Strom). On the Dutch side, this is regulated in a similar way.
The NEP Electricity represents the need to expand the German electricity grid over the next ten to 15 years and includes an update for the next 20 years. The network development plan is drafted by the transmission system operators – in addition to Tennet, these are 50Hertz, Amprion and TransnetBW – and by the Federal Network Agency approved.
Tennet is facing massive investments. The company recently announced that it would invest at least six billion euros every year from 2025. Tennet receives strong support from its shareholders: the Dutch government recently announced that it would provide 4.25 billion euros in equity for the state-owned company’s activities in the Netherlands. The Dutch government and the German government have been negotiating for many months about the German state joining Tennet.
More: How a new law could slow down the expansion of wind power on the high seas