ABB technology helps integrate renewables to support Germany’s energy transition

May 17, 2018 - ABB’s HVDC technology helps integrate power from renewable energy sources to the German grid

One of the most important aspects of Germany’s “Energiewende” policy has been securing bulk power production through renewables to replace nuclear power and sources produced from fossil fuels. Off of the northern coast of Germany, the strong wind that blows over the shallow water of the North Sea, has become this much-needed alternate source.

But generating the energy is only part of the battle. Transmitting the power generated from wind sources in the North across long distances to areas of high consumption in the South, and in other countries, has proved an even bigger challenge. ABB, through several different projects, has developed innovative technology that plays a vital role in this growing field.

In 2010, ABB technology helped connect an offshore wind farm to the German Grid via the first of its kind HVDC station installed on an offshore platform. The BorWin1 Offshore Wind Connection is connecting one of the largest and most remote offshore wind farms in the world. Located 125 kilometers off the German mainland in the North Sea, the wind farm consists of 80 wind turbines. ABB was selected by grid operator TenneT to help connect the wind farm to Germany’s onshore power transmission grid.

ABB engineered, built and installed a platform on which the power from the wind farm is converted with HVDC Light technology to direct current (DC) and then transported via undersea and above ground cables over 200 kilometers to the onshore converter station in Diele. Here, the power is converted back to AC and fed into the transmission network. Since the wind farm was installed, the project has the capacity to deliver 400 MW of clean power to the grid.

ABB expertise has been instrumental in installing offshore wind connections for two other projects in Germany as well, the DolWin1 and DolWin2 projects for TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator. In each, power from multiple wind farms is connected via AC collector platform to the HVDC Light converter platforms in the North Sea. The DolWin2 project, commissioned in 2017, has one of the highest capacities on record, supplying more than a million households with renewable energy.

ABB technology is also facilitating the interconnection of energy resource sharing between countries. One of its most recent projects, building converter stations for the NordLink project, is helping Germany and Norway balance and share resources. In recent years, Germany has significantly expanded its wind and solar power generation, and, at times of heavy wind and sun, it cannot use all that it produces. So Norway, with its many hydropower reservoirs can store Germany’s surplus renewable power, that will be transmitted via NordLink, a 1400 MW interconnector based on HVDC Light technology.

Through this link, Norway can also export hydropower to help Germany meet its fluctuating daily power demand during times of low wind and cloudy skies. When the project is commissioned in 2020, the consortium of Statnett, TenneT and KfW will be able to leverage power flows between the two countries to maximize efficiency.

As Germany’s Energiewende policy continues to reshape the country’s power sector, ABB is committed to innovating technology that will help Germany build a future based on power from renewable sources.

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