Paper on MRC extension

26.03.2020

The so-called 4M Market Coupling Countries (4M MC) – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia – are to be connected to the Europe-wide Multi Regional Coupling (MRC) of the electricity market. This will introduce Single Day-Ahead Coupling across 23 European countries. The initiative to implement the MRC expansion is the DE-AT-PL-4M MC Project, also known as “Interim Coupling Project”. The relevant transmission system operators (TSOs) from Austria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – the TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, APG, ČEPS, MAVIR, PSE, SEPS, TenneT, and Transelectrica – are part of the project consortium.

The AT-PL-4M MC Project establishes implicit capacity allocation based on Net Transfer Capacity (NTC) at six borders (PL-DE, PL-CZ, PL-SK, CZ-DE, CZ-AT, HU-AT). The Nominated Electricity Market Operators (NEMOs) and TSOs participating in the DE-AT-PL-4M MC Project now have published an information paper for market participants containing key information on the project in a question and answer format. This information includes the main expected changes for the market, the planned communication methods with market participants and a high-level technical description of the market design to be implemented by the project.

The partners of the AT-PL-4M MC Project for integrating Czechia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia into MRC have published an information paper

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> Open AT-PL-4M MC information paper provided by MAVIR (pdf, 732.98kB)

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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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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

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

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Ostwind 1 in regular operation

14.02.2020

In April 2019, the Arkona wind farm in the “Westlich Adlergrund” cluster in the Baltic Sea near the German island of Rügen was commisioned, giving the go-ahead for full operation of the Ostwind 1 grid connection of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from northeast Germany. Ostwind 1 is the first grid connection in the Baltic Sea with 220kV three-phase current technology, which enables a higher transmission capacity.

Now Ostwind 1 has gone into regular operation and the two connected wind farms, besides Arkona also the Viking wind farm, have been successfully connected to the onshore grid on schedule. But 50Hertz considers this success no cause to rest on its laurels, for the expansion of offshore wind energy must continue if the energy transition is to succeed. This is why the TSO has already made good progress with the follow-up project Ostwind 2.

For instance, 50Hertz has long since begun preparations for the construction of three submarine cable systems for the Ostwind 2 project. For the land section, the 12 nautical mile zone of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and an approximately 5km-long section in the exclusive economic zone, the building permits have already been issued. 50Hertz has set up a new website for the Ostwind 2 project, where further information can be found.

Ostwind 1 grid connection of 50Hertz in the Baltic Sea has gone into regular operation (picture of Arkona wind farm: Ein Dahmer / CC BY-SA 4.0)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> Visit Ostwind 2 project website (html)

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Redispatch with renewable energy systems in practical test

12.02.2020

In Germany, redispatch measures for the eliminations of bottlenecks within the transmission grid are currently limited to conventional power generation plants. An amendment to the German Energy Industry Act with effect from 1 October 2021 allows renewable-energy facilities to be deployed for redispatch measures. These new regulations will strengthen the role of renewables in the maintenance of electricity system security. The task now is to ensure balance sheet handling for such redispatch measures and to develop a mode for the financial settlement of the interventions.

For this reason, TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from north-east Germany, has entered into an agreement with the Norwegian energy company Statkraft, Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy, to jointly test redispatch with renewable energy systems in practice. The key objective of these practical tests is being able to calculate the necessary effort for redispatch measures with renewable energy systems. 50Hertz accesses wind farms marketed by Statkraft in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania that are directly connected to the TSO’s transmission grid or to a regional distribution grid. 50Hertz and Statkraft want to test demand variants for the wind farms to allow the legal requirements to be implemented efficiently and safely with this new form of redispatch.

Dr Dirk Biermann, Managing Director Markets and Systems Operation at 50Hertz, explains that due to the new legal regulations, TSOs will in future have various options for the demand of redispatch for plants in the distribution grid. Dr Biermann comments on the forthcoming practice tests: “Demand via the distribution system operator is just as possible as direct demand by 50Hertz. Our aim is to identify the most efficient way. We hope that the field test will provide us with important insights in this regard.”

50Hertz and Statkraft have agreed to jointly test redispatch with renewable energy systems in practice

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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Austro-German cooperation on control reserve

05.02.2020

The Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG and the four German TSOs 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW are intensifying their cooperation in terms of balancing energy. Since December 2019, the five TSCNET shareholders have been exchanging minutes reserve, i.e. the provision of short-term power reserves to balance fluctuations in generation and consumption that affect frequency. Minutes reserve comes into play after primary control and secondary reserve, the two short-term effective balancing energies. Austria and Germany are thus the first countries in Europe to cooperate on all types of control reserve and make a significant contribution to secure electricity supply in Europe.

The cooperation with the project name “GAMMA” (German-Austrian Manual Merit Order Activation) is trendsetting, as it is the first collaboration in the field of minutes reserve to fulfil the objectives of the EU guideline for electricity balancing on a regional scale. Germany and Austria are testing a regional internal market for the joint utilisation of minutes reserve and will contribute their new experience with the integration of control energy markets to the European “MARI” (Manually Activated Reserves Initiative) project.

Beyond the requirements of the guideline, the Austro-German cooperation will be expanded in February 2020 to include the joint procurement of secondary reserves. It is intended that in an initial phase up to 80MW, later up to 280MW, can be procured across borders. The cost-benefit analysis for the allocation of cross-border transport capacities was jointly developed by the cooperating TSOs. It compares the market value of cross-border transmission capacity for the day-ahead market with that of the secondary reserve, thereby optimising procurement and determining the amount of cross-border transmission capacity allocated to the secondary reserve. This cooperation also represents a lighthouse project in Europe and anticipates the goals of the EU Clean Energy for All Europeans Package.

The Austrian TSO APG and the four German TSOs 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW exchange minutes reserve in a regional internal market

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> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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Grid stability with three quarters renewables

04.02.2020

Keeping the mid-frequency of the grid stable at 50Hz is one of the core tasks of the transmission system operators (TSOs). In cooperation with the Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs), they operate the grid securely and keep it free of congestion. These tasks are becoming increasingly demanding due to the rising share of volatile renewable energies in the grid. Among the renewables, wind energy in quantitative terms plays the decisive role in Germany, and last weekend it was particularly windy – from the German coasts to the Alps – which led to a winter feed-in record for renewables: According to figures based on TSO data and provided by the renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE), on 1 February 2020 renewable energies accounted for 74.8% of net public electricity generation in Germany. Together, the four German TSOs 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW and TSCNET Services mastered the situation very well: The grid was stable at all times.

Fraunhofer ISE continuously publishes German generation and other energy data on the Institute’s Energy Charts website. Theoretically, renewable energies can by now only fully cover power generation in Germany on spring holidays such as Easter or at spring weekends, when power consumption is low and photovoltaics make a larger contribution to generation. The fact that on a winter’s day at the beginning of February renewable energies can already cover almost three-quarters of electricity generation is a good sign that the energy transition in Germany is on track – and the German TSOs and TSCNET Services play an important role in this.

Despite record wind energy feed-in in Germany, there were no problems with grid stability (picture: Karsten Würth)

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> Visit Fraunhofer ISE Energy Charts Website, in German (html)

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Onshore converter for the Combined Grid Solution

31.01.2020

The Danish-German Combined Grid Solution (CGS) in the Baltic Sea is the world’s first offshore interconnector to use national grid connections of offshore wind farms to link the transmission systems of two countries. For this purpose, submarine cables were laid between the offshore transformer stations of the German wind farm Baltic 2 and the Kriegers Flak wind farm in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea. The CGS is a joint project of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and TSCNET customer Energinet, the TSO from Denmark.

The Bentwisch substation near the Baltic port city of Rostock houses the German onshore converters for the CGS. Here 50Hertz has installed a double converter system including a back-to-back converter. This is essential for balancing the asynchronous transmission systems of Germany and Eastern Denmark: The AC from the Nordic synchronous area is converted into DC and directly back into AC, now adapted to the European synchronous area.

50Hertz has now successively energised and commissioned all converter components in Bentwisch. The new equipment and further extensions of the substation had to be individually synchronised with the control technology in a series of individual testing and commissioning steps. The operational readiness of the double converter system in Bentwisch marks another important milestone on the way to the commissioning of the entire CGS.

The German onshore converter for the Danish-German offshore interconnector Combined Grid Solution has been commissioned by 50Hertz (picture: Jan Pauls / 50Hertz)

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> See 50Hertz project news (html)

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50Hertz participates in Power-to-Heat plant

28.01.2020

In the control area of the German transmission system operator (TSO) and TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz in northern and eastern Germany, the installed renewable energy capacity is particularly high. Often it is necessary to take wind turbines off the grid and compensate the operators for the losses. Some of this green excess power is to be used more efficiently in the future: Together with Stadtwerke Rostock, the public utility company of the Baltic port city, 50Hertz is planning the construction of a Power-to-Heat (PtH) plant to use this energy cross-sectorally for the heat supply of Rostock.

The projected electrical output of the plant is 20MW and construction is scheduled to begin this year. The PtH plant will be combined with the thermal energy storage unit yet to be built on the same site. Stadtwerke Rostock is responsible for the design, construction and operation of the PtH plant. 50Hertz bears the investment costs of around €20m and also ensures that the facility will appropriately be involved in eliminating bottlenecks in the TSO’s extra-high voltage grid.

For 50Hertz, the PtH plant is a further step on the way to fully integrating the increasing amount of electricity from onshore and offshore wind farms into the power system in a safe and cost-effective manner. Dr. Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, explains: “Economically and ecologically, the motto must be: ‘Using instead of throttling down’. The conversion of green electricity into thermal energy for heating or hot water supply is a reasonable alternative to shutting down, thus utilising renewable resources even when there are bottlenecks in the electricity transmission grid.”

50Hertz and the public utility company of Rostock are jointly building a PtH plant (picture: Stadtwerke Rostock)

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> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)

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Study on German-Polish TSO cooperation

16.01.2020

The two transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz from Germany and PSE from Poland jointly conducted the “German-Polish Study on cooperation between TSOs PSE and 50Hertz in long-term and mid-term perspectives”, which now has been finalised. The study was supported by the respective national Ministries responsible for energy.

As its title suggests, the study is divided into an investigation of medium-term and long-term cooperation objectives. The mid-term part aims at improving the coordination of the operational planning processes. The following issues, among others, have been identified as important: improving the quality of forecasting of power flows at the German-Polish border and the coordinated use of cross-border remedial measures such as phase-shifting transformers as well as bilateral and multilateral redispatch. To better predict cross-border flows, PSE and 50 Hertz agreed to support the development of a flow-based methodology, and as far as the remedial measures are concerned, advanced software solutions are required. However, not only the development of an IT tool is needed here, but also advanced coordination and cost sharing in a region-wide mechanism.

For the long-term study, a modelling process carried out by the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Warsaw was used, which was consulted and monitored by experts from both TSOs. Using alternative scenarios, different time frames and market simulations, the main trends in German-Polish electricity exchange as well as future challenges for regional markets and networks were identified, such as interconnector capacities, growth of energy demands or deviating energy prices.

50Hertz and PSE have conducted a joint study on German-Polish TSO cooperation (picture: Andreas Vogel / CC BY-SA 4.0)

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> See PSE press release (html)
> See 50Hertz webpage on the study, in German (html)
> Open Executive summary (pdf, 538.47kB)

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