Public hearing looms over German grid problems

Legal complaint filed against Tennet will be heard September

Germany could introduce much-needed change to its mechanism for allocating offshore transmission cable capacity to shore thanks to a case due to be heard on 12 September.

A formal complaint against Dutch state-owned transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT was lodged earlier this month with Germany’s energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur.

The case was brought by British Wind Energy, a subsidiary of German wind developer, Windreich, which bought the Deutsche Bucht offshore project from Bard Group in February 2011.

Windreich has asked the regulator to investigate whether TenneT is fulfilling its legal obligation to have cable connections to shore ready when offshore wind stations are commissioned. The developer fears the Borwin4 cable will not be available in time to connect its 273MW Deutsche Bucht project.

Claims that TenneT has put the Borwin4 cable project on ice may be misplaced, however. In April, TenneT's invited companies interested in building Borwin4 and Borwin3 to undergo prequalification vetting, and the bidding phase of the tender is currently underway.

A TenneT source told Windpower Offshore that it will be ready to proceed as soon as framework contracts are finalised. Outstanding problems, includingoffshore cable risk liability, are being tackled by the German federal government.

Suggestions that Windreich's Deutsche Bucht project could use a connection originally foreseen for the Bard Group's delayed Veja Mate project are unfeasible, according to TenneT.

Veja Mate was granted an unconditional grid connection pledge in May 2010. Transfer to another project is not possible, as it would involve the federal regulator withdrawing the grid connection pledge and granting it to another project. Such inflexibility needs to be tackled, as other projects are similarly affected, acknowledged TenneT.

The 400MW Borwin1 cable has been commissioned but is currently transporting power from just 16 turbines, with 60MW thus far installed at the 400MW Bard 1 offshore station.

It is argued that Siemens’ Global Tech 1 project, hit by a delay in commissioning of Borwin 2, could temporarily connect to the Borwin 1 cable transformer station, known as Borwin Alpha. But current arrangements do not allow this.

September's public hearing could add to existing pressures for new and more flexible rules for Germany's offshore grid expansion programme.

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