New Hampshire, USA — Grid connectivity is a lingering issue for renewables. Many ideal sources for renewable power tend to be in remote areas with no line access or densely populated areas with undersized, or already over-powered transmission.
“Some project challenges include the remoteness of the location and in the case of offshore wind connections, the harsh conditions, the installation of major equipment on specially constructed offshore platforms, and the laying of submarine cables” said Antonio Ligi of ABB. And when installing these new transmission lines, the process is often lengthy and expensive.
Not only are viable lines hard to come by, but much the existing grid system is split into difficult-to-navigate ownership by regional transmission organizations (RTO) or transmission system operators (TSO) and individual, smaller companies. These lines often interconnect, and crafting deals and plans for renewables can be a painstaking, timely process. So it’s big news when deals are made for grid connection development, and two were made recently that will connect about 1200 MW to the grid.
ABB struck a $1 billion deal with TenneT, a Dutch-German grid operator, to construct transmission lines from offshore North Sea wind farms to the German mainland grid to be completed in 2015. The high-voltage direct current (HVDC) system will bring over 900 MW to the shore, making this the largest transmission order in ABB history. Power will be transmitted to an offshore converter station from the 400-MW Gode Wind II farm and others, and from there will travel 135 kilometers of underwater and underground cables to an onshore station to feed to the mainland.
This is the third German offshore connection project for ABB, following the BorWin1 project and the 800-MW Dolwin1 project last year. With this deal, Germany’s wind power capacity is set to exceed more than 27 GW, and its intentions are to double this capacity by 2020.
GE and Prowind GmbH, a German wind farm developer, crafted a 300-MW transmission deal with Romanian grid operator Transelectrica. This deal allows Prowind to build four wind farms in Northeast Romania, set to be connected to a new Transelectrica substation being built in Banca, Romania. “Our wind farm projects in the Vaslui County will offer major benefits in terms of employment and tax revenues to help improve the quality of life and services for residents and businesses while also supporting Romania’s national economic and environmental goals,” said Johannes Busmann, founder and owner of Prowind GmbH in a press release.
GE also plans to supply 120 wind turbines to the four wind farms, which will be shipped in 2012. This project is in line to support Romania’s goal of 24 percent renewable energy by 2020. “Grid interconnection agreements play a vital role in ensuring the transmission infrastructure is in place to allow Romania and other countries to meet their energy supply and environmental obligations,” said Carmen Neagu, region executive of GE Energy for South East Europe in a press release.