Safe and sound at TSCNET

20.09.2017

When thinking about a dangerous working environment, a regular business office is probably the last place that would come to mind. Fulfilling the daily tasks while sitting in a chair, without the need of any other equipment than a computer seems to be far from any hazard. Nothing is more misleading, though: According to a report of the US-American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, office workers are 2 to 2.5 more times more likely to suffer a disabling injury from a fall than non-office workers!

Recognising the potential risks in advance and taking up the right preventive measures is TSCNET’s way to a safe and user-friendly working environment. Earlier this year, in line with the occupational health and safety objectives and requirements set by the EU, we have carried out a detailed risk assessment and taken up further steps in order to improve the safety in our office premises in Munich, Germany. As one of the outcomes, two Emergency Response Officers were chosen among volunteering employees and have attended a certified emergency aid training.

To keep everyone on the good terms with occupational and office safety, TSCNET employees took part in internally organised lecture on the preventive measures against accidents and hazards. The lecture finished with a short office tour and revision of the information on the evacuation plan and location of the emergency points in our office. As a follow-up of the initiative, we plan to integrate the Occupational Health and Safety training in the on-boarding procedure for new colleagues.

Keeping in mind that our actions as well as the lack of them can have a great impact on our employees, we have taken this opportunity to once again remind ourselves about the great value of a speak-up mentality. We encourage our team to share feedback – to the benefit and safety of everyone!

> Open “Principles of prevention” by the German Social Accident Insurance (pdf, 136kB)

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Supervisory Board visits TSCNET’s premises

18.09.2017

The Supervisory Board of TSCNET Services advises and supervises the management of our company. Therefore good communication and close cooperation is crucial. Last Tuesday, the Supervisory Board held a meeting at our premises in Munich, Germany, and paid a visit to our Operator Room, the most visible part of our services provision as a Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) for transmission system operators (TSOs) in Europe. On this occasion, the board members observed the daily coordination process between TSCNET and the Operators of the TSOs. Besides, our Management Team and one of our Operators conducted a presentation on our core services, the operational processes at TSCNET, and regional transmission grid coordination in general.

“TSCNET plays an important and an increasingly significant coordination role, especially as fluctuating renewable generation is increasingly replacing thermal generation,” said Rainer Pflaum, Chairman of the Supervisory Board and CFO of TransnetBW, one of the four German TSOs and a TSCNET shareholder. “For TSOs today, isolated management of their own transmission networks is not sufficient anymore. The day-ahead forecast of grid status, capacity and potential remedial actions needs to be calculated based on a common model that uses data sets of the individual TSOs participating. These calculations are an important basis for each TSO to make decisions about what action to take. TSCNET is doing a great job here,“ commented Pflaum.

Jesień Leszek, the Director of the Department of International Cooperation of the Polish TSO PSE, who joined the Supervisory Board recently, emphasised the visit’s information value: “Experiencing the daily video conference, called DOPT, with all the participating TSOs and its preparations gave a deep insight about the efforts TSOs have to make to keep the interconnected systems stable. I am used to see these processes from the perspective of PSE’s dispatching centre – it was revealing to also see the other side now.” In addition, Leszek feels vindicated in counting on cross-border cooperation: “It was the combined efforts of all the TSOs facilitated by  TSCNET that made us overcome the difficulties and secure electricity supply across this huge part of Europe.”

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Modernisation and stable operation in Czechia

17.09.2017

A significant and future-oriented project, which TSC member ČEPS, the Czech transmission system operator (TSO), has long been advancing with great vigour, is finally complete: All four phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) with phase angle regulation at the Bohemian substation in Hradec u Kadaně are now in full operation and regulate the electricity flows of two 400kV interconnectors between the Czech Republic and the eastern part of Germany. Not only do the PSTs contribute to grid stability in Czechia and beyond, but they also help to prevent expensive remedial measures.

This is the prominent feature of the ČEPS report on the second quarter of 2017, which also provides otherwise with good news, such as a profit before tax of CZK 1.5bn (about €57.5m). That is an increase of nearly CZK 275m (about €10.5m) compared to last year’s corresponding period. The ambitiuos grid investment programme of the Czech TSO can nothing but benefit from this gratifying development. The reconstruction of a gas-insulated section of the Chodov substation in Prague, the country’s capital and largest city, or the construction of a new transformer station in Vernéřov in the region of Ústí nad Labem are only two of several projects in order to maintain system security and increase transmission capacities.

> See ČEPS press release (html)

Picture: ČEPS

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Transmitting positive energy in Slovenia

16.09.2017

Succesful business operations in a challenging environment – the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO) and TSC member ELES has published its annual report for 2016. The comprehensive overview of all ELES activities presents as key figure an increase of total revenue of 7% compared to 2015. The Slovenian TSO expresses its contentment with the results achieved in 2016. The electrical energy input in 2016 amounted to 22,136GWh, the peak load was recorded at 3,603MW.

> See ELES press release (html)
> See online version ELES annual report 2016 (html)
> Open ELES annual report 2016 (pdf, 9.55mb)

Picture: ELES annual report

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German south-west interconnector in operation

15.09.2017

After more than ten years of planning, approval and construction time, the extra-high voltage line “Südwest-Kuppelleitung” (aka “Thuringian Power Bridge”) leading from the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt via Thuringia to Bavaria has finally been put into complete operation. The 380kV line project – conducted predominantly by TSC member 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) – is of the highest importance for the energy sector in Germany, since the new interconnector increases transmission capacities significantly.

The first electrical circuit of the interconnector had already been put into operation in December 2015. The commissioning of the second circuit followed on 14 September 2017, when Dr. Reiner Haselhoff, prime minister of Saxony-Anhalt, gave the official activation command in the headquarters of 50Hertz in Berlin. The completed “Südwest-Kuppelleitung” has a total length of nearly 200 kilometres and provides a transmission capacity of about 5,000MW. 50Hertz invested round about €320m in the line which is awarded by the EU as Project of Common Interest.

The transport of sustainable energy from the north of the country to the consumption centres in the west and south is a primary task for the German TSOs in order to accomplish the self-imposed goals of the energy transition. In this regard, the completion of the “Südwest-Kuppelleitung” can hardly be overestimated. Boris Schucht, CEO of 50Hertz, commented on the commissioning: “With this line, the integration of electricity generated from renewable sources in the north-east of Germany is improving considerably.” In addition, higher transmission capacities also reduce costs for redispatch measures. ” The line will also help ensuring that the costs for congestion management can be kept stable despite further increase of the renewables”, explained Mr Schucht.

> See 50Hertz press release (html)

Picture: 50Hertz

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Consortium for Wind Power Hub expanded

14.09.2017

Meeting the future demand for renewable electricity and achieving the EU’s offshore wind energy targets as well as the objectives of the Paris climate agreement – these are primary concerns for European transmission system operators (TSOs) such as Energinet from Denmark, TenneT TSO B.V. (Netherlands), and TenneT TSO GmbH (Germany). Earlier this year, the three TSC members have thus agreed to jointly explore and develop the North Sea Wind Power Hub, a large renewable electricity system in the North Sea. The TSOs also expressed their intention to expand the cooperation to a European multi-party consortium.

The basic idea of the visionary hub project is the construction of one or more so-called Power Link Islands in the shallow waters of the central North Sea. A large amount of offshore wind facilities is to be connected to such an island, that will serve as distributor and transmitter of sustainable energy, and above that as interconnector between the energy markets of the North Sea riparian states. Since power to gas technologies are destined to play an important part in the European energy landscape of the future, they are likewise an integral part of the North Sea Wind Power Hub – in terms of gas-based transmission and storage solutions.

Given this premise, it is very welcome indeed, that the Dutch natural gas infrastructure and transmission company Gasunie has joined the hub consortium. Gasunie will not only contribute its expertise regarding gas storage and transport, but also its technological experience in the handling and conversion of renewable gases such as hydrogen. Power-to-gas conversion techniques allow to store and transmit large quantities of wind-generated energy in the form of hydrogen. Storage on a Power Link Island would take place close to the offshore energy source, and from here, the energy could be transmitted through an existing gas infrastructure.

> See Energinet press release (html)
> See TenneT press release (html)

Picture: Screenshot taken from video “North Sea Island TenneT” (TenneT, YouTube)

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Final permit for new 380kV line in Valais

13.09.2017

Already in 2010, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy had approved the construction plans of TSC member Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO), for the extra-high voltage overhead line from Chamoson to Chippis in the Rhône valley in the Swiss canton of Valais. Due to complaints being filed with the respective court, it took seven years, several court rulings, and an improved line variant (to reduce noise pollution and transmission losses) until the Swiss Federal Court, the last juridical instance, rejected the complaints on 1 September 2017.

Now that the approval procedure finally has come to an end, Swissgrid eventually can begin with the work on the new line from Chamoson to Chippis which replaces the old 220kV line. After the preparatory actions, the actual construction is set to begin in 2018. The line upgrade in the Rhône Valley is an essential component of Swissgrid’s ambitious grid modernisation and expansion plan, called “Strategic Grid 2025”.

Swissgrid conducts further extension projects in Valais contributing to a sustainable energy future in Switzerland. The realisation of all these projects is indispensable for the transmission of energy from Valais power plants, foremost from the new pumped-storage power plant Nant de Drance. If the grid extension should fail, the hydropower from Valais cannot be transferred entirely to the consumer centres in Central Switzerland.

> See Swissgrid media release (html)

Picture: Rhône Valley by Olivier Bruchez (Creative Commons)

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Wind energy to provide operating reserve

11.09.2017

Even in case of outages, disruptions or other unforeseen events, the operating reserve ensures stability of the transmission grid and secures the customer supply. That is why the operating reserve is essential to any transmission system operator (TSO). On the German market, operating reserves have so far been provided primarily by conventional power plants and hydroelectric plants. The inclusion of wind energy to provide operating reserve in the near future is an urgent task for TSOs in order to keep the grid stable in times of an ever increasing share of the renewables.

TSC member Amprion, one of the four German TSOs, now has prequalified the first wind farms within its control area for participation in the operating reserve market. The prequalification proves that the selected wind farms can be controlled quickly and precisely in accordance to the respective operation reserve type. They also fulfill the necessary requirements regarding information and communication technology. Amprion’s approach is an important step towards the integration of the renewables and thus for the energy transition in Germany.

> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Slovenian smart grid event

10.09.2017

In order to eludicate its significance and its responsibility for the smart development of the energy sector in view of Slovenia’s Energy Concept (SEC), TSC member ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO), hosted a stakeholder event on smart grid concepts and their importance for the future power transmission system. The event was attended by high-profile representatives from energy related industries, associations, and institutions.

The renowned Croatian-Slovenian smart grid project SINCRO.GRID, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), naturally played an important part in the course of the event. But ELES is also involved in further smart grid activities, such as the central-south European FutureFlow project on cross-border balancing and redispatching. The CEO of ELES, mag. Aleksander Mervar, emphasised in a round table discussion the challenges, but also the risks of smart grid concepts – since the technological developement ist still in progress and intense. Mr Mervar sees ELES at a technological breaking point and expects the necessary smart solutions to be functionable round 2030.

> See ELES press release (html)

Picture: ELES

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APG modernises two substations

08.09.2017

To ensure future security of electricity supply in the north as well as in the south of its control area, TSC member APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO), sustainably invests in the modernisation of two electrical substations: Ernsthofen in Lower Austria in the greater area of Linz and Steyr, and Obersielach in the southernmost Austrian state of Carinthia.

Despite the common purpose of both modernisation measures – to adapt the two facilities to the future requirements of the Austrian transmission system – the necessary actions quite differ from each other. In Ernsthofen, the 110kV switchgear, being more than 70 years old, will be dismanteled and substituted by a new construction. The core of the new facility is a gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) of the highest technical standards. With the current reconstructions in Ernsthofen, APG resumes the first renovation phase from 2010 to 2011. All in all, the Austrian TSO will invest about €50m in the next five years.

The APG substation in Obersielach will be equipped with an additional 380/220kV transformer. Due to its heavy weight and large size, the transformer is being delivered in three parts by means of heavy-duty transport. The first part already reached Obersielach in early September, the other parts are expected on 18 and 25 September respectively. The commissioning of the high-end device in all its three parts is scheduled for the spring of 2018. With an output of 550MVA, the transformer has the capacity to supply nearly the whole of Carinthia with electricity. Yet, the installation of the transformer is only the start of a comprehensive renewal of the Obersielach substation, in the course of which APG invests round €38m until 2019.

> See APG press release Ernsthofen, in German (html)
> See APG press release Obersielach, in German (html)

Picture: APG

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