Largely unnoticed by the broad public, five European regional security coordinators (RSCs) are working on what is arguably the most important task for ensuring the security of electricity supply at continental level: a stable and secure transmission system. RSCs analyse critical grid situations from a regional perspective and advise their customers in order to avoid bottlenecks or even blackouts. One of them is TSCNET Services. A detailed background article published by “Energie & Management”, a renowned daily German print and online newspaper for the energy market, portrays the company and presents the special challenges that an RSC has to face every day.
For example, a critical situation occurred in the very cold January 2017. “Even though the redispatch coordination functioned well at that time, the emergence of grid bottlenecks has shown that in the course of the expansion of renewable energies in Europe, we need to identify critical conditions and developments even faster”, explains Maik Neubauer, one of the two managing directors of TSCNET Services. For this reason, TSCNET, in close cooperation with the partner TSOs, has established the “Critical Grid Situation Service” to facilitate communication between the RSC and the TSOs.
Close and seamless communication is crucial for TSCNET Services, because the RSC does not intervene in the transmission network itself, but gives recommendations for action. The final decision, however, lies with the responsible TSO, which can always rely on the validity of the information provided by TSCNET. To ensure this reliability, the specialists at TSCNET monitor the network flows in Central and Eastern Europe. This involves a lot of data: More or less 600,000 data series with a volume in the double-digit gigabyte range yield around 300 prognoses every single day – a “big data company with top advisory expertise”.
Still, the volume of data will continue to increase, especially in view of the implementation of the Common Grid Model (CGM) under the EU network codes. “Today, we still lack some data, especially about the situation at the interfaces to the distribution grids”, states Maik Neubauer. Once the individual grid models of the respective TSOs and the CGM have been established, the additional data also flows into the calculations of TSCNET. This will expand the RSC’s perspective and further optimise system operation. While critical situations affecting only two TSOs can be resolved bilaterally, it becomes more difficult, if several parties are involved. An incident in Poland, for instance, may well affect not only Germany but also the Czech Republic. In such a case, the central coordination provided by TSCNET is essential to anticipate problems or to calculate short-term effects.
Every day at 9:00 pm, TSCNET’s Daily Operational Planning Teleconference (DOPT) with the TSOs’ experts will be held to summarise system occurrences and to coordinate possible compensation measures for the next day. Though everyone involved is quite satisfied with this daily routine, the EU is also pursuing divergent plans. In the context of the European Commission’s “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package, the idea of Regional Operational Centres (ROCs) came into being, which would extend the role of current RSCs by giving them operational responsibility. The TSOs – who would have to hand over competences – are sceptical, and also Maik Neubauer has clear positions in this regard. He points out the complexity of the European power system and the valuable experience of national TSOs. Mr. Neubauer therefore prefers to further improve regional coordination and to leave the operational business to the TSOs: “A Europe-wide centralisation of grid control would be a mammoth project with many risks and unknowns.”