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TenneT: North Sea renewable energy transmission achieves new peak value

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Energy Global,

In 2020, the transmission system operator TenneT transmitted around 22.76 TWh of wind energy from the German North Sea to onshore, thus achieving a new peak value. The 2020 result exceeds the previous year's value (20.25 TWh) by 12.4%. This means that, in purely mathematical terms, the annual demand of around seven million households, three quarters of a million more than in the previous year, can be covered with green energy.

The share of electricity transmission from the North Sea is a strong 17.2% of total wind power generation in Germany, which reached 132.32 TWh in 2020.

TenneT Chief Operations Officer, Tim Meyerjürgens said: "The North Sea is becoming the new powerhouse of Northwest Europe. TenneT already operates offshore grid connections in Germany and the Netherlands with a transmission capacity of around 8500 MW, including more than 7000 MW in the German North Sea. The German government also recognises the enormous importance of the North Sea for our electricity supply and has raised the targets for 2030 to 20 000 MW, of which TenneT will realise the largest part with approximately 17 000 MW. Added to this is the TenneT offshore grid in the Netherlands, where we will increase transmission capacity to 9600 MW by 2030. All together, that's over 26 000 MW in 2030. We will invest €20 billion in the North Sea alone for this over the next few years."

In addition, TenneT plans to build a first cross-border wind power hub in the North Sea together with consortium partners by 2035, which, with 12 000 MW, will have the capacity of 12 large power plants. The hub will supply Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany with green wind power from the North Sea.

A wind power hub is a smart energy switching point: it connects wind farms to different countries and thus simultaneously provides a direct electrical connection between these countries at a lower cost. When the wind blows, the electricity from the offshore wind farms is transported to the connected countries via the submarine cables. And when the wind is calm, the same submarine cables can be used to trade electricity directly between the countries.

In order to achieve the new climate policy target of 55% less CO2 by 2030, a further expansion of around 35 000 to 65 000 MW is to be expected in Germany in addition to the renewables expansion planned so far, according to TenneT. In this context, the expansion of the electricity grid must keep pace with that of renewables.

"We have looked at the impact on grid expansion and expect up to 1000 km of additional new power lines," said Tim Meyerjürgens, "I believe this can be done. We will do our part and actively support the federal government in achieving these goals."

In the future, however, the distribution of energy from the ever-growing addition of renewables cannot be done via the power grid alone. TenneT states that Power to X, electrolysers for the production and storage of hydrogen from green electricity as well as the coupling of the energy sectors will be essential factors in limiting the additional power grid expansion in the future.

Tim Meyerjürgens: "We especially have to think very broadly about hydrogen and its integration into the energy system, much broader than before, and take an overarching, systemic approach. A key success factor will be the intelligent coupling of the different sectors and a co-ordinated expansion of the gas and electricity infrastructure. Only if we position and operate the electrolysers sensibly with a view to the entire electricity system can they relieve the pressure on the electricity system. Therefore, we need the right signals and incentives from politics and industry for the integration of electrolysers into the existing infrastructure so that they support the energy system and do not become an additional burden on the electricity grids.”

Further offshore balance data

In the German North Sea, the maximum value of the feed-in capacity of offshore wind farms in 2020 was measured at 6035 MW on 02 January, according to TenneT.

The capacity expansion of offshore wind farms in the German North Sea was 6679 MW on the cut-off date of 31 December 2020.

TenneT's offshore transmission capacity is 7132 MW in the German North Sea and transmitted 22.76 TWh from sea to land in 2020.

Wind turbines in the Baltic Sea (50 Hz grid area) generated 4.13 TWh in 2020, so Germany's total offshore generation in this period was 26.89 TWh. Adding 105.43 TWh of onshore wind energy generated brings the total yield in Germany to 132.32 TWh.

In the Netherlands, TenneT operates the two offshore grid connection systems Borssele alpha and Borssele beta with a combined capacity of 1400 MW, thus transferring 1.82 TWh of wind energy from sea to land in 2020.



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