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New German-Dutch power interconnector set for late summer/Q4 start

London — Dutch power is set to get a supply boost from two major new power cables from Denmark and Germany expected to start operations earlier than recently planned, according to the latest project updates.

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Dutch TSO TenneT is finalizing works on a new 380 kV HVDC cable that will boost transmission capacity between Germany and the Netherlands by 1 GW to 2 GW.

TenneT flagged possible delays on the German side late February, but now expects the new line to become operational at the end of July, according to a note on JAO published last week.

Construction work on the German side is still ongoing with cable laying works in the final stages, a spokeswoman for the project developed by German grid operator Amprion told S&P Global Platts Wednesday.

The Amprion project spokeswoman confirmed that plans for complete commissioning are on track for Q4, 2018 with testing possibly starting this summer pending successful completion of those final works.

TenneT was not immediately reachable to comment, but in its April 11 note on JAO said further details about the integration of the new line between the Netherlands and Germany into the CWE flow-based market coupling process would be published in June.

Construction on the 700 MW Dutch-Danish COBRAcable subsea link is also progressing, with trial operations of the interconnector expected to start Q4 2018, according to Danish TSO

"The COBRA cable between the Netherlands and Denmark will begin commercial operation on the 6th of February 2019," a spokesman for the Danish TSO told S&P Global Platts earlier this month.

According to the Danish TSO, the start of COBRA is not expected to have an impact on flows on the German border where the European Commission is currently investigating possible capacity constraints.

TenneT, which also operates parts of the German grid, is offering to expand cross-border availability on the German-Danish (DK1) border to 1,300 MW with the proposal currently under consultation.


The new links have the potential to boost power imports into the Netherlands from the generally lower-priced market areas by up to a third.

The Netherlands is already a net importer of electricity with inflows at 18.8 TWh almost triple the amount of outflows (6.4 TWh), according to TenneT's latest annualized data through to February.

Exports are mainly through the 1 GW BritNed cable to Great Britain.

Imports are mainly through the 0.7 GW NorNed cable from Norway and on the German border, where net inflows have fallen from 2.7 GW in 2015 to 1.5 GW in 2017, based on physical flows with Germany increasing its Dutch imports during times of low wind.

TenneT also plans to double transmission capacity on the Belgian border by 2022 with southbound flows often depending on Belgian nuclear availability.

Belgium itself plans new links to the UK (Nemo in 2019) and Germany (Alegro in 2020) and is also planning to phase-out nuclear power by 2025.

Other fundamental changes like Dutch plans for a UK-style carbon floor price from 2020 may also impact regional power flows by pushing Dutch coal burn across the border into Germany should EUA carbon allowance prices remain substantially below the Dutch carbon floor price.

The Dutch government also faces pressure to lower carbon emissions and reduce domestic gas production from Europe's biggest onshore gas field in Groningen province.

To achieve those targets, the Netherlands plans to boost renewables with TenneT on track to connect 3.5 GW of offshore wind to the grid by 2023 with a further 7 GW of projects planned to 2030.

By 2030, all Dutch coal plants will also have to close including three new units with over 3 GW capacity.

German baseload power for 2019 delivery has risen to a record-high above Eur38/MWh this week, but remains some Eur4/MWh below Dutch Cal-19 baseload power peaking above Eur42/MWh this week with Nordic power futures trading around Eur30/MWh, according to pricing data from Platts and power exchanges EEX and Nasdaq OMX.

--Andreas Franke,
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell,