TenneT CEO Mel Kroon: ‘Our society is becoming more and more dependent on electricity. Investments in the high-voltage energy systems are in everyone’s interest as they facilitate the transition to renewable energy and at the same time maintain security of supply. Large-scale generation from renewable sources takes place at non-conventional locations on land and at sea. If we want to exploit all this green electricity in our Northwest-European region to the full, we cannot do without new power transmission links, both onshore and offshore. Innovations, partnerships and international cooperation are vital for this. In 2016, we have taken effective steps in all of these areas and we will continue to do so in the years to come.’
Energy transition: offshore wind
In 2016, the Dutch government assigned TenneT as the Netherlands’ offshore grid operator. This means TenneT will be responsible for the development, construction and operation of an offshore energy system that, by 2023, will transport 3,500 MW (the annual power consumption of approximately 4 million households) of sustainable wind power from the North Sea to private and business users. A number of onshore and offshore geological surveys have been carried out for the Borssele and Hollandse Kust Zuid wind farm zones. For Borssele (2 × 700 MW), the tendering process for the required cables (late 2016) and offshore transformer platforms (early 2017) has been completed, and for Hollandse Kust Zuid the preferred route, via Maasvlakte North, has been determined. For the third designated wind farm zone, Hollandse Kust Noord, TenneT started the first preparations.
The tenders for the Borssele wind farms produced striking results. With 7.27 and 5.45 cent per kWh, the winning tenders were well below previous auction results. This is partly due to low market prices for steel and other commodities and low financing costs, but also due to the fact that wind farm developers have the security of having TenneT as the designated offshore grid operator.
For the medium term, TenneT sees opportunities for further expansion of wind power capacity in the Dutch part of the North Sea. The 'IJmuiden Ver' zone, for instance, can accommodate enough wind farms to generate thousands of megawatts. These wind farms could be connected to the grid using conventional methods or perhaps a hybrid method, in which the cable would also function as an interconnector between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – a so-called “wind connector”. During 2016 TenneT announced its long-term vision for an “energy island” further offshore on the North Sea, which could connect wind farms with a combined capacity of up to 70 gigawatts to the German, Dutch, Belgian, Norwegian and Danish electricity markets. In this “hub-and-spoke” model, the wind connector concept could be implemented on a large scale.
In the German part of the North Sea, TenneT currently operates nine offshore grid connections: two alternating-current (AC-) and seven direct-current (DC-) connections. This brings the current total available capacity for transmission of offshore wind power to 5,221 MW. This is more than enough to transport the total installed capacity of 3,783 MW generated by offshore wind farms. By 2019 TenneT expects to have 7,132 MW offshore transmission capacity installed. By 2025 this is expected to grow to more than 10 GW.
Optimization of international electricity markets
In 2016, TenneT reaffirmed its leading role in initiating and implementing cross-border transmission capacity to facilitate the market – a strategy dating back to 2002. The construction of two new cross-border offshore electricity connections was started in 2016: a 1,400 MW connection between Germany and Norway (NordLink) and a 700 MW connection between the Netherlands and Denmark (COBRAcable). Onshore, the expansion of cross-border transmission capacity is also in full operation with the construction of the (1,500 MW) Doetinchem-Wesel link and the upgrade of the existing Meeden-Diele connection between the Netherlands and Germany. Also an increase in the cross-border transmission capacity between the Netherlands and Belgium is in preparation.
Financial results and investments
|Key underlying*) financial figures (in millions of euros)||2016||2015|
|Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT)||834||1,075|
|EBIT, corrected for special items||701||704|
|Investments in tangible fixed assets||1,848||2,405|
|Total fixed assets||18,974||15,424|
|Net interest-bearing debt, adjusted||7,347||5,736|
|Dividend to Dutch State||146||196|
*) Contrary to IFRS, ‘underlying’ figures recognise regulatory assets and liabilities in connection with TenneT’s regulated activities whereas IFRS does not allow this. This means that amounts resulting from past events and which are allowed or required to be settled in future grid tariffs are recognized separately.
Underlying revenue and EBIT
TenneT’s 2016 underlying revenue of EUR 3,227 million decreased from EUR 3,290 million in 2015, mainly due to lower reimbursement of system service expenses, offset by additional revenue generated by our growing asset base. Underlying EBIT decreased from EUR 1,075 million in 2015 to EUR 834 million in 2016. Excluding special items, underlying EBIT was in line with prior year, i.e. EUR 701 million in 2016 compared to EUR 704 million in 2015. Higher revenue due to a larger investment base was offset by higher operating expenses and lower income from non-regulated activities.
TenneT CFO Otto Jager commented: "Our solid financial results mean that we can continue to finance investments in the energy transition. At the same time, as largest Dutch corporate issuer of 'green debt', we support the development of a sustainable investor market."
Investments & financing
Capex totalled EUR 1,848 million in 2016, of which EUR 575 million in the Netherlands and EUR 1,273 million in Germany. This continuing high level of investment also explains the increase of the net interest-bearing debt position to EUR 7,347 million at 31 December 2016.
To meet the higher funding need resulting from the large investment portfolio, TenneT successfully completed a EUR 500 million green Schuldschein issue in May and issued a total of EUR 1.5 billion of green bonds in 2016. At the end of 2016, TenneT’s shareholder, the Dutch State represented by the Ministry of Finance, committed to contributing up to EUR 1.2 billion of additional equity over the 2017-2020 period to be paid out in four tranches. The final tranche of EUR 410 million in 2020 is conditional and will be granted if necessary, taking into account TenneT's financial situation at that time.
Senior unsecured credit ratings as of 31 December 2016
|Long-term rating||Short-term rating|
|Standard & Poor’s||A- (stable outlook)||A-2|
|Moody’s Investor Service||A3 (stable outlook)||P-2|
Dutch society also financially benefits – via TenneT’s shareholder, the State of the Netherlands – from TenneT's activities. Over the financial year 2014 TenneT distributed a dividend of EUR 116.5 million, followed by EUR 196 million over 2015 and EUR 146 million over 2016. From 1999 to 2017, the State of the Netherlands received a total of EUR 905 million in aggregate dividends from TenneT.
Over the next ten years TenneT expects to invest EUR 25 billion in onshore and offshore grid infrastructure across the Netherlands and Germany. These grid expansions will ensure a reliable supply of renewable energy throughout Europe and in TenneT’s service areas in particular. The ongoing coupling of the European energy markets will lead to more convergence of electricity prices in the various European countries, and will make electricity more affordable for end users.
In the Netherlands, planned investments include maintenance of the existing grid as well as grid expansions to accommodate larger and more volatile electricity flows. The largest projects are the offshore grid (3,500 MW), the Randstad 380 kV North Ring, South-West 380 kV, North-West 380 kV, the upgrade of the national 380 kV ring, Doetinchem-Wesel and COBRAcable.
In Germany, too, new or upgraded electricity connections are required to accommodate the strong and continued growth in renewable energy generation, often at non-traditional locations. More than 20 large-scale projects are currently in the planning or implementation phase. TenneT is also preparing for two unique underground direct-current connections stretching over many hundreds of kilometres, i.e. SuedLink and SuedOstLink. The German government introduced legislation to ensure that, for the most part, these connections are installed underground. This does mean that implementation of these projects will be delayed by a number of years and that the cost will be significantly higher than originally anticipated.
Similar to the earlier Randstad 380 kV South Ring project, the North Ring will include almost 10 kilometres of 380 kV cable (AC), for which TenneT will use a newly developed 380kV cable with a core made out of aluminium instead of copper. In addition to its high transmission capacity and long service life, this new type of cable will result in cost savings of 20 to 30 percent.
For overhead 380 kV connections, including the Randstad 380 kV North Ring, South-West 380 kV, North-West 380 kV and Doetinchem-Wesel, TenneT will continue to use its innovative Wintrack pylons. Due to their slender design, these pylons significantly reduce the size of the electromagnetic field and have less of a visual impact on the environment.
Furthermore, TenneT is examining the possibilities for electricity storage using batteries, which would increase the flexibility and efficiency of the power grid even with strong growth in fluctuating supply from renewable sources (wind and solar). In a pilot project in 2016, TenneT and NewMotion utilized the charging systems of thousands of electric vehicles to contribute to the stability of the grid. In 2017, TenneT will work together with different parties in a number of pilot projects aimed at making the grid more flexible and keeping it solid.
Integrated Annual Report 2016
More information about TenneT may be found in our Integrated Annual Report 2016, which is published at annualreport.tennet.eu.
Related to TenneT's green funding of its investment portfolio through the issuance of Green Bonds (since 2015), TenneT published the Green Finance Report 2016.