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TenneT to invest an additional €215 mio in high voltage grid in the north of the Netherlands

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TenneT is planning to invest an additional €215 million in connection capacity for two GigaWatts (GW) of solar and wind farms in the north of Netherlands. Two new 380 kV/110 kV high voltage substations will be constructed in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe. These projects are expected to be completed around 2025, depending on any procedures.

In addition, TenneT wants to realise extra capacity at the existing 110 kV high voltage substations in Bargermeer, Coevorden, Emmen Weerdinge, Hardenberg, Klazienaveen, Musselkanaal Zandberg, Ommen Dante, Stadskanaal and Veenoord.

One gigawatt corresponds to the capacity of around 3.5 million solar panels or around 200 wind turbines. Ben Voorhorst, COO at TenneT: ‘We want to honour as many transmission requests as possible for solar parks and wind farms. In view of the requests for connecting renewable projects, we will also look closely at where our sustainable investments are most needed and most efficient. The better capacity expansions of electricity grids are fully utilised, the better consumers’ money will be spent. In total we now have projects in the north worth more than 1 billion euros. This 215 million euros will come on top of that.’

Temporary measures

Voorhorst: ‘We are looking at all possible ways to find and realise more capacity in the grid.’  Being allowed to connect solar parks without a backup is one of these. Then the available reserve in the 110kV grid will be used for connecting additional sustainable generation. The regulator (ACM) will, however, have to grant an exemption for this, because the use of the 'reserve strip' is currently not permitted.

If this exemption is granted, 500 megawatts of additional connection and transmission capacity will become available immediately. TenneT can distribute this to high voltage substations in the vicinity of solar parks, which means a large number of extra initiatives for sustainable generation can be added next year. TenneT will submit an exemption request to the ACM this month.

Curtailment is another way to create more capacity on the grid. This means that only if the supply of sustainable electricity exceeds demand solar parks will be temporarily shut down. More parks can be built with the application of curtailment.

Whether or not connecting solar parks without a backup connection and curtailment will be temporary measures has not yet been decided. The fact is that scarcity on the grid will remain in the short term. After all, TenneT does not have a complete overview of all requests to connect to the grid. In addition, TenneT has to follow procedures, make planning preparations, apply for permits, and deal with construction times and scarcity on the labour market.

The planning preparations and permit applications for constructing new infrastructure like a large high voltage substation take between 4 and 10 years. Construction itself will last about 2 years.

These are some of the projects that TenneT is implementing or planning in the north of the Netherlands.

Projects in progress

  • Reinforcement of the 110 kV grid at Eemshaven with, among other things, the construction of a new 110 kV high voltage substation in Eemshaven. To be completed in early 2020.
  • Expanding and adapting high voltage substations for the transmission of sustainable energy: such as Delfzijl Weiwerd 110 kV and Meeden (110/220 kV with an additional 380 kV for interconnection with Germany). The substations will have new transformers and fields for more power. To be completed in late 2020.
  • Reinforcing the grid in Friesland with a new high voltage substation (at Bolsward), needed to connect the Fryslan wind farm and other sustainable initiatives. Construction starting at Bolsward of a 30-km-long underground cable connection in the verge of the A7 to Heerenveen. The connection will be ready in late 2020, the substation a year later.
  • Modifications to the Kropswolde high voltage substation for the connection of the 100 MW solar park at Kolham. To be completed in late October 2019.

Planned projects

  • The construction of the electricity highway (380 kV connection) from Eemshaven to the Vierverlaten high voltage substation (Hoogkerk near Groningen) is important. Part of this project is the expansion of the Vierverlaten high voltage substation, which will be the largest in the Netherlands after commissioning. TenneT hopes to be able to start construction in 2020. The 380 kV connection is expected to be completed in 2023.
  • Expansion of transmission capacity of several connections. Better (new) electricity conductors will replace the current ones and so TenneT is strengthening some pylons. Such as the connection from Delfzijl to Groningen (Hunze) that will be worked on from next year.
  • With the construction of a large wind farm north of the Wadden Islands, 700 MW of sustainable electricity will be added to the high voltage grid (2026). How the wind farm is connected (and to which location) is still under investigation; together with the stakeholder relations, TenneT is looking for (underground cable) alternatives. This week and the coming week the Ministry of Economic Affairs is organising walk-in meetings about the plans.


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Eefje Van Gorp

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