50Hertz: More renewables, less redispatch

10.03.2020

For 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the north-east of Germany, the 2019 business year was successful in two respects: More renewable power than ever before was transmitted by 50Hertz. At the same time, fewer and fewer redispatch measures were required for congestion management. This of course also means that the TSCNET shareholder was able to continuously reduce its redispatch costs.

At the 50 Hertz annual media conference in the German capital of Berlin, the TSO presented the following figures: A total of around 60TWh of renewable energy was fed into the grid, mainly generated by wind and sun. This once again set a record in the 50Hertz control area, where renewable energies already cover up to 60% of the average annual electricity demand. In congestion management, 50Hertz was able to reduce the throttled energy volumes from 4TWh in 2018 to only 2.5TWh in 2019 and cut redispatch costs from €134m to €84m.

Stefan Kapferer, CEO of 50Hertz, commented on the TSO’s success: “The north-east of Germany continues to evolve into a ‘green power plant’ of the energy transition in Germany. Even with a constantly growing share of wind and solar power in the grid, we keep the costs under control. With regard to the time after the exit from coal- and lignite-fired generation, we stand for the security of the power system and create the necessary preconditions.”

50Hertz keeps on creating the technical conditions for future success and is making good progress in grid optimisation, reinforcement and expansion. Last year, the offshore grid connection Ostwind 1 was officially commissioned. In addition, 50Hertz lines and substations have been reinforced. To improve the prognosis of grid losses, artificial intelligence (AI) is used in the 50Hertz grid. All this is not possible without sustained financial commitment. Thanks to consistently good business performance – annual result 2019: €178m (2018: €238m) – the TSO will significantly increase its infrastructure investments: In the period 2020 to 2024, investments will grow by €1.1bn to €4.2bn compared to the time span 2015 to 2019.

50Hertz presents impressive figures for 2019 and announces increased investments (picture of Kerstin Maria Rippel, Head of Communications & Public Affairs at 50Hertz, 50Hertz CEO Stefan Kapferer, 50Hertz CFO Marco Nix, and Chris Peeters, CEO of Elia Group: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls)

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Deep Dig-It trencher at work for TenneT

09.03.2020

The Hollandse Kust (South) offshore wind area in the Dutch North Sea is located 22 kilometres off the coast of the Dutch province of Zuid-Holland. TSCNET shareholder TenneT is responsible for connecting the wind farms under construction there via two corresponding offshore platforms to the onshore high-voltage substation in the industry and port area of Maasvlakte, from where the green electricity is transmitted further to the Randstad 380kV South Ring power line in the Dutch Randstad region, the most densely populated area in Europe, and further.

But there is a major challenge to be met by the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO): On the first ten kilometres of the offshore route, the four submarine cables to be laid are crossing the entrance to Europe’s busiest cargo port, the port of Rotterdam. To pass through the busy Rotterdam-Maasmond shipping lane, the cables here must be buried more than 5 metres deep into the seabed. For this specific job, the Dutch maritime contracting company Van Oord designed and built the Deep Dig-It trencher, a gigantic remote-controlled trencher.

Last Friday, final tests were carried out in the Aleksiahaven of Maasvlakte in preparation for the actual laying of the submarine cables in July. The innovative device is a so-called Tracked Remotely Operated Vehicle, which drives unmanned over the seabed, creates a deep trench for the cables, inserts the cables and closes the trench again. The Deep Dig-It is the largest and most powerful machine in its class. The trencher weighs 125 tonnes, is more than 17 metres long, well over 8 metres high and 11 metres wide. This makes it possible to bury cables in very hard ground, while the burial depth that can be achieved with the Deep Dig-It is well over 5 metres.

TenneT employs the powerful Deep Dig-It trencher to connect the Hollandse Kust (South) wind farms to the onshore grid (picture: Van Oord nv)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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COBRAcable proves to be a great success

06.03.2020

It is now half a year since TSCNET customer Energinet, the transmission system operator (TSO) from Denmark, and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, made COBRAcable available to the market. The high-voltage DC cable with a length of about 325km and a capacity of 700MW is the first direct connection between the electricity markets of Denmark and the Netherlands. The basic idea behind COBRAcable is to compensate for the volatility of wind power. Consequently, the Netherlands imports electricity via the cable on days with large Danish wind power generation, while on days with little wind in Denmark the electricity is transported in the opposite direction.

This works perfectly, as the interconnector’s transmission data from the first six-month period prove: In total, Denmark has imported almost 700GWh via the COBRAcable and the Netherlands almost 1,400GWh. On average, COBRAcable was operated at full capacity 79% of the time during the last half year. The impressive traffic on this binational connection proves its adequacy through its operation. The new interconnector therefore substantially contributes to the energy transition by exchanging volatile renewable energy across borders and additionally creates a trading profit on the spot market for electricity – a multiple benefit for nature, society and the companies involved.

The transmission data from the COBRAcable of Energinet and TenneT confirm a high level of traffic on the line (picture: screenshot taken from Energinet-video “Constructing the green COBRAcable”, Vimeo)

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> See Energinet press release (html)

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TenneT concludes successful V2G pilot

04.03.2020

Considering the increase in renewable energies, electromobility represents an additional challenge, but also an opportunity for transmission system operators (TSOs). The decentralised feed-in of renewable energies leads to transport bottlenecks in the transmission grid, but when it comes to balancing power generation and consumption, electric vehicles can contribute to maintaining the balance and security of supply. For this reason, TSCNET shareholder Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, is intensively researching this field. Together with car manufacturer Nissan and energy service provider The Mobility House, the TSO now has successfully concluded a substantive vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot project, which was initiated in March 2018.

As part of a SINTEG (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie” – “Smart Energy Showcases“) project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the partners have investigated the potential of electric vehicle batteries in storing and feeding back locally produced electricity in order to stabilise the power grid and at the same time increase the use of renewable energies and save CO2. During the project phase, Nissan electric vehicles were deployed as mobile energy storage systems in the TenneT control area in northern and southern Germany to instantly reduce local overloads in power supply and demand.

The project offers a significant solution to the increasingly frequent bottlenecks. The wind power available in northern Germany was used by electric cars in the region. At the same time, in the south, electricity from fully charged batteries of Nissan LEAF vehicles was fed back into the grid instead of raising fossil generation. These smart redistribution measures were controlled by software from The Mobility House, the smart charge and energy management system ChargePilot, which follows TenneT’s specifications and also considers the mobility and charging requirements of vehicle users.

TenneT managing director Tim Meyerjürgens comments on the V2G research: “The pilot project has shown that we will be able to use electric mobility in the future to flexibly manage renewable electricity production, which is highly dependent on the weather. This relieves the strain on the electricity grid and helps us to limit the expensive throttling of wind turbines. The short-term flexibility, which is thus provided to us by electromobility, can supplement the grid expansion and become an important component of the energy transition.”

TenneT, Nissan, and The Mobility House have successfully concluded a research project on the use of automobile battery systems for grid stabilisation (picture: screenshot taken from TenneT video “Kooperationsprojekt Stabilisierung des Stromnetzes – Vehicle 2 Grid“, YouTube)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Winter storms break feed-in records

03.03.2020

In February 2020, electricity generation from wind energy set new records throughout Europe, as shown by calculations of the International Economic Forum for Renewable Energies (Internationales Wirtschaftsforum Regenerative Energien – IWR) based on data from European transmission system operators (TSOs). In Europe (still including the UK), almost 54,000GWh of wind power was fed into the grid (February 2019: 34,300GWh). In Germany, almost twice as much electricity was generated by wind turbines as in the same month of the previous year, with wind power exceeding the 20.000GWh mark for the first time in one month (February 2019: 10,800GWh).

Driven by the hurricane gusts of winter storm Sabine (Ciara in English speaking countries and Elsa in Scandinavia), the German wind turbines in the second week of February temporarily supplied almost 44GW of climate-friendly electricity to the grid and thus covered two thirds of Germany’s demand for electricity – whereas the German government has only set a target of 65% for 2030. However, the trend-setting wind power peak in Germany also has unpleasant side effects. Grid extension not always keeps pace with these quantities – mostly due to appeal procedures and approval processes – and hence sometimes more wind power is produced than some lines can handle. In such cases emergency measures are routinely taken by the TSOs as part of their congestion management and turbines have to be taken off the grid.

But TSOs also constantly improve their control and capacity management, e. g. 50Hertz, the TSO from the windy north-east of Germany. Between 6.30pm and 6.45pm, a wind feed of 16,270MW was registered in the TSO’s control area. At the same time, only 460MW (and thus a very small percentage) had to be throttled. Thanks to optimised grid control and capacity utilisation, most of the wind power generated was transmitted from the north to the south of Germany and almost completely used. By way of comparison, the previous record was set on 4 March 2019, when 16,217MW of wind energy was fed in, but at the same time around 1,300MW still had to be curtailed. Dr Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets and System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, comments on this success: “This exceptionally good ratio between feed-in and curtailment shows that the measures we have taken to increase the capacity and optimise our grid are having a positive effect.”

During the winter storms in February 2020, which led to record feeds of wind energy throughout Europe, 50Hertz had to throttle almost no energy

Linkup
> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> See IWR press release, in German (html)
> Visit Fraunhofer ISE Energy Charts website (html)

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“The grid demands digitisation and AI”

02.03.2020

Europe’s high-voltage grid has a total length of around 485,000km and continuously feeds in approx. 1,152,017MW of electricity. The transnational grid can be considered as the backbone of all European critical infrastructures, whose reliable operation is essential for Europe to function as an economic zone. Since this aspect is too often neglected, Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based Regional Security Coordinator (RSC), has taken the opportunity to share his views on the prospects of the European electricity transmission system in an interview in the current issue (1/2020) of the “THEMEN:magazin”. This German-language medium bi-monthly provides reports on economic challenges and opportunities with a focus on energy policy.

Neubauer points out that, although the European interconnected grid is one of the most complex infrastructures in the world, there have so far hardly been any significant blackout situations – thanks to the cooperation of the European transmission system operators (TSOs), which has been well-established for decades. But since the energy transition is a pan-European project, the increasing flows of electricity from renewable sources do not stop at the border. European TSOs face the challenge of integrating numerous additional energy sources into the grid and operational control processes. Due to the predominance of nuclear and fossil power generation to date, the forecasting and control processes for optimum utilisation and balancing of the European grid have so far been rather deterministic, which is currently changing at a rapid pace with the volatile renewable energies.

Therefore, in addition to grid expansion and swift digitisation of control processes, increased European coordination of congestion and capacity management is essential. The EU network codes and, of course, the RSCs are crucial for this, as Neubauer emphasises. The RSCs receive data on expected grid situations from almost all European TSOs. This information is aggregated by the RSCs to provide an “early warning system” that identifies potential bottlenecks and threats to the grid. The RSCs thus support their TSO customers to counteract potential blackout situations in Europe by taking real- and near-time mitigation actions in their system operations and planning departments. Nevertheless, according to Neubauer, swift digitisation is inevitable to cope with the increasing data volumes in European grid management caused by the integration of renewable energy sources.

Without the seamless interaction of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT), secure grid management will hardly be possible in the future. Neubauer also predicts that without a high level of artificial intelligence (AI), the complexity in critical infrastructures will no longer be controllable by humans in the medium term. Therefore, AI will soon also radically change the energy sector. Neubauer is well aware, however, that IT security and cyber security must have the highest priority in order to safeguard developments in AI and protect highly critical infrastructures from misuse or even terrorism.

“Artificial intelligence will be indispensable” – in an interview with the “THEMEN:magazin”, Maik Neubauer presented his view on the perspectives of the European electricity transmission system

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> Visit “THEMEN:magazin” webpage, in German (html)

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New financial manager gives a good account

02.03.2020

At TSCNET Services, we are committed to providing the best possible service for our shareholding transmission system operators (TSOs). International understanding is thus not actually our primary corporate objective, but we are nevertheless encouraged by the perception of our new Senior Finance & Reporting Manager in the Corporate Services business unit, Houssein Ben Boujemaa. We were already able to recruit him in September last year. When asked what particularly intrigued him about TSCNET in addition to his personal career prospects, Houssein mentions the fact that we are a company with a good 60 employees, but above all 28 nationalities. We can only say: Welcome aboard, Houssein, and great that you have already added some additional facets to our diversity.

35-year-old Frenchman Houssein holds a master’s degree in Marketing and Applied Management from the IDRAC Business School in Paris and a master’s degree in International Business from the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce et de Gestion de Paris. He has gained professional experience in various sectors. For example, he served as a Business Controller for France for the medical and travel security services company International SOS. At EBI SA in Paris, an affiliate of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, he oversaw the global corporate revenue planning and control for Africa and handled trade finance and loan syndication for the sub-Saharan Africa commodity market. And in the IT sector, Houssein was responsible for EMEA operations at the German branch of the computer software and service company PTC in Unterschleißheim near Munich.

For TSCNET, Houssein has been working successfully to improve financial processes and financial management since his start with us. Of course, he appreciates not only the international working environment at our premises, but also the dynamic growth of the company to which he wants to actively contribute. We are pleased that our finance area is already giving a good account of itself!

Houssein Ben Boujemaa is our new Senior Finance & Reporting Manager in the Corporate Services business unit

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Dutch communication pilot project for aFRR provision

25.02.2020

The significant growth in decentralised energy generation is noticeably changing the European energy landscape. Consumers are also playing an increasingly active role by generating their own electricity as prosumers. The electricity system is thus changing from a demand-oriented system with centralised generation to a more supply-oriented system with decentralised generation. Maintaining the balance of the future transmission system is thus a major concern of European transmission system operators (TSOs), which could be supported by new players serving the ancillary services market as balancing services providers (BSPs). However, product specifications stand for a barrier to new entrants, for example in the field of data communications.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, is already researching suitable balancing solutions in several projects. TenneT is now also investigating the possibility of allowing decentralised, sustainable electrical energy to participate in the Dutch market for automatic Frequency Restoration Reserve (aFRR). The aFRR delivery requires a real-time data connection. Until now, the only secure and reliable option has been the leased line. This is not a problem for large production units, while for new BSPs the purchase of a leased line is a major barrier to entering the aFRR market.

This is where the aFRR pilot project comes in: For the first time, a new type of data connection was successfully used, whereby the data communication between the market participants and TenneT (for activation and measurements) was realised via TenneT’s mobile network. This removed a major obstacle to the provision of aFRR by (new) BSPs and enabled grid balancing by means of horticulturists, electric boilers and car batteries. TenneT will monitor and evaluate the performance of its mobile network in the coming months. If this is successful, the TSO will make the data connection available as soon as possible to all BSPs interested in using it to supply aFRR.

Tomatoes from Dutch greenhouses keeping the grid in balance – TenneT carries out a pilot project to improve data communication for aFRR supply

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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ACER consultations on balancing market

20.02.2020

A core component of the European Energy Union is the integration of the national balancing markets into a pan-European market. To promote this essential objective, the European Commission Regulation establishing a Guideline for Electricity Balancing became effective in December 2017. The European transmission system operator (TSOs) are expected to work proactively towards this goal and have since responded to this expectation with transnational cooperation, proposals, innovative concepts and their implementation.

The Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) launched two public consultations on methodologies in line with the respective EU regulation. The first consultation concerns the way for establishing a list of standard products for capacity balancing of frequency restoration reserves and replacement reserves. This methodology provides the rules for efficient cross-border exchange, sharing and procurement of reserves. The second deals with the methodology for establishing a co-optimised allocation process of cross-zonal capacity for the exchange of balancing capacity or sharing of reserves. All interested parties are invited to submit their comments by 10 March 2020.

Before the results of the two consultations are published, ACER will organise a workshop in its premises in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana on 26 February. This workshop will give stakeholders an insight into the procedures related to these consultations and into the discussions between ACER, the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and the TSOs.

ACER has launched two public consultations on methodologies for the integration of balancing markets (picture of Europe from space by Alexander Gerst, ESA/NASA)

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> See ACER press release (html)
> Direct access to 1st consultation (html)
> Direct access to 2nd consultation (html)
> Visit ACER workshop webpage (html)

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ENTSO-E presents Annual Work Programme 2020

19.02.2020

The European network codes and guidelines as well as the Clean Energy for All Europeans Package pose considerable challenges for European transmission system operators (TSOs). It is thus not only reasonable for the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), but also mandatory under an EU regulation to propose an Annual Work Programme outlining the main TSO tasks.

Having been consulted by stakeholders and reviewed by the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) – the opinion of ACER was received on 7 February – the Annual Work Programme 2020 has now been published by ENTSO-E. The priorities set in the ENTSO-E programme are consistent with the objective of the European Council to complete the internal electricity market and the three-year plan for the work on network codes.

In the programme, ENTSO-E recognises an enhanced role of TSOs in the significant updating of the European electricity market design. Furthermore, the creation of a pan-European IT architecture for electricity is seen as one of the main drivers for the energy transition. In this respect, the Common Grid Model is a precondition for, inter alia, coordinated capacity calculation, operational security analysis, outage planning coordination, and adequacy analysis.

ENTSO-E has released the Annual Work Programme 2020 (picture: ENTSO-E)

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> Visit ENTSO-E Annual Work Programme site (html)
> Open Annual Work Programme 2020 (pdf, 2.83MB)
> Open ACER opinion (pdf, 170.7kB)

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