The annual conference “Future Power Grids” (“Zukünftige Stromnetze”) brings together key players from the German energy sector with a focus on power grids to facilitate a prolific exchange between politics, research and industry. This was once again the case this year when, under the auspices of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, energy experts met in the German capital of Berlin on 29 and 30 January. “Future Power Grids 2020” was technically chaired by Christian Schorn, Head of Asset Management and Operations at TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the southwest of Germany.
Among the representatives of research institutions, ministries, authorities, NGOs and energy companies were Thomas Dederichs, head of energy policy at TSCNET shareholder and German TSO Amprion, and Maik Neubauer, one of the two managing directors of the Munich-based regional security coordinator (RSC) TSCNET Services. Mr. Dederichs spoke about the role of transmission grids in the further development of market design, while Mr. Neubauer, under the heading “The European Perspective – Integration of Renewables and Grid Security”, gave an overview of the history, services, tasks and challenges of European RSCs in general and TSCNET services in particular.
New Challenges for transmission infrastructures
Neubauer depicted the highly meshed European power transmission grid as one of the most complex critical infrastructures in the world and the function of the RSCs as an early warning system for the European TSOs to identify potential risks in the system. RSCs assess these risks continuously and in a coordinated manner and counteract potential congestions and power failures. The establishment of the RSCs was a reaction of the European Commission (EC) to a Europe-wide power outage in 2006 with under- and over-frequencies, which affected around 15 million people across Europe.
The increase in volatile renewable energies in the system further intensifies the need for the work of the RSCs. However, the tasks of the RSCs based on the third and fourth EC Clean Energy Package – e.g. security and risk analysis, capacity calculation, short term adequacy forecasts and longer-term outage planning coordination – depend on intensive cooperation between the European RSCs. The continuous collaboration of almost all European TSOs is essential, and the interests of the energy market and system security needs to be continuously balanced. In the long term, only the digitisation will be able to manage the increasing complexity of the grid. Neubauer points out the growing integration of OT (Operations technology) and IT (Information technology) layers and explicitly referred to the importance of artificial intelligence for congestions analysis and future network control and security.