The primary content of the Annual Report 2019 just published by the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) Swissgrid is summarised by Yves Zumwald, CEO of the TSCNET shareholder, as follows: “In a challenging year, Swissgrid laid the foundation to successfully meet the challenges of the energy future in Switzerland and in Europe.” These foundations include the expansion of the grid even against possible resistance, the strengthening of international cooperation despite the absence of an electricity agreement with the EU and the innovative further development of the electricity market. “Thanks to the fantastic effort and commitment of all employees, we can look back upon a successful year,” concludes Zumwald.
The implementation of the “Strategy 2022” for the reorganisation of the Swissgrid corporate structure to further increase efficiency within the company made good progress in 2019 – just like the grid extension measures according to the company’s ambitious plan “Strategic Grid 2025”, even if complaints sometimes delayed implementation. Projects worth mentioning in this respect include the grid extension works in the Swiss canton of Valais which are important for transporting energy from hydropower to the consumption centres of Switzerland or the progress made in Central Switzerland with the 380kV line between Beznau and Birr. This line is partially laid underground, representing the very first time that part of an extra-high voltage line in Switzerland has been realised by underground cables: Twelve cables with a weight of 30 tonnes each were installed in the summer.
In terms of key financial figures, the company’s net profit rose slightly year-on-year to CHF66.7m (€63.38m), while earnings before interest and taxes amounted to CHF102.4m (€97.31m), representing a decline of 14.2%, due to lower invested operating assets and the higher net surplus in volume- and tariff-related time differences. Looking ahead to the 2020 business year and beyond, high annual investments will continue to be required due to lengthy approval processes, especially regarding grid extension or modernisation. Swissgrid assumes a medium-term planning horizon of grid investments of approximately CHF150m (€152.54m) to CHF200m (€190.1m) annually.
Concerning innovation in the ancillary services market and market integration, the Swiss TSO will continue to develop the market platform on which requested products for frequency regulation and international redispatch are combined. To compensate for frequency fluctuations due to increasingly volatile energy generation, Swissgrid is preparing the “Crowd Balancing Platform” for the control energy market, a pilot project aimed at the use of storage technologies in the field of primary control energy. The “Crowd Balancing Platform” is based on block chain technology and the internet of things. The Dutch-German TSO and further TSCNET shareholder TenneT has already verified the technical feasibility of such processes. Now Swissgrid, TenneT and the Italian TSO Terna have formed a consortium for the European use of this technology, the potential of which Swissgrid will investigate in a pilot project in Switzerland. The project will start in the summer of 2020 and run until the end of the year.