Amprion Market Report shows encouraging trends

27.05.2020

The intermeshed European electricity market today requires constructive cooperation between all actors and organisations. Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), considers the efficiency of cooperation at European level a key prerequisite for continental security of supply and the success of the energy transition. For this reason, the TSCNET shareholder was and is involved in numerous regional and European initiatives on system operation, network planning, and market integration. Also, Amprion is an observant analyser of the European market development, especially in the Central Western Europe (CWE) region and annually provides the Market Report for the CWE countries. The 2020 edition for the period 2015 to 2019 has just been released.

The Market Report is based on data from Flow-Based Market Coupling (FBMC) introduced by the six CWE countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium) in May 2015. By involving the entire regional network in the coupling of electricity markets, FBMC allows TSOs to allocate cross-border capacity and maximise market efficiency without jeopardising grid stability. The Amprion report clearly indicates the progress of the CWE market integration, especially with the following figures: In 2019, price convergence on the day-ahead markets increased by a further 10%, reaching 42%. In other words, in almost every second hour, day-ahead prices in the CWE have been equal because the TSOs succeeded in making sufficient power transmission capacity available to meet the demand of the entire region at the same prices.

Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, CEO of Amprion, comments on the positive development: “The Market Report furnishes proof that trade barriers could be decreased during the course of 2019.” Dr Brick places particular emphasis on the efficient and highly interconnected power grids in the CWE region and their “key role in ensuring Europe’s stable and secure energy system”. As regards Amprion’s individual contribution, the TSO was able to further improve the efficiency of its grid and thus strengthen European electricity trading. Whereas in 2018 the share of all active trade constraints caused by Amprion internal elements was 13.7%, in 2019 it was only 7.8%. This is due not only to the ongoing grid expansion measures, but also to the monitoring of overhead lines, which allows more efficient utilisation of the most important power lines.

Amprion has published the Market Report 2020 for the CWE region (picture: Daniel Schumann / Amprion)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> Open Amprion market report (pdf, 6.97MB)
> Open Amprion market report summary, in German (pdf, 524.8kB)

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Generation adequacy in the CWE region within standards

22.05.2020

The Pentalateral Energy Forum (PLEF) provides the framework for regional cooperation in Central Western Europe (CWE) to improve electricity market integration and security of supply. The initiative aims to give political backing to a process of regional integration towards a European energy market. As far as the concrete implementation of impulses from the initiative is concerned, eight transmission system operators (TSOs) of seven countries cooperate in the PLEF, including the TSCNET shareholders APG from Austria, Amprion and TransnetBW from Germany, Swissgrid from Switzerland, the Dutch-German TSO TenneT, and TSCNET client Creos from Luxembourg as well as the Belgian TSO Elia and RTE from France.

The PLEF is subdivided in so-called Support Groups, e.g. covering work on market integration (SG1) and on security of supply (SG2). Within the scope of the SG2 group, the eight TSOs have worked out the third edition of the Pentalateral Generation Adequacy Assessment (PLEF GAA 3.0) and have just published a corresponding report, which summarises the main findings in 71 concise pages. The study, which examines the adequacy of electricity generation in the PLEF region up to the medium-term time horizon (2025), can be considered as significant result of TSO cooperation at regional level.

The main findings are that, under base conditions, sufficient production capacity is available, so that a breach of reliability standards is not to be expected and the adequacy of production in the CWE region will be up to standard by 2025. However, adequacy simulations have also shown that adequacy risks can occur. The electrical system may be exposed to specific situations in which the system safety is under strain. Additional unforeseen events in such situations can put even greater pressure on daily system operation, which may require the activation of special measures.

The eight TSOs cooperating in the PLEF have published their joint report on regional generation adequacy assessment in Central Western Europe

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> Open PLEF GAA 3.0 Report (pdf, 2.94MB)

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Demolition makes room for DC substation

14.05.2020

After TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, was granted building permit for the ULTRANET substation on the site of the former Philippsburg nuclear power plant in March 2020, the way is now finally clear for its construction. At 6.05 in the morning of 14 May 2020, the two cooling towers on the site of the former power plant were detonated. Now the necessary construction space of around 100,000m² is created. The Philippsburg plant was shut down completely on 31 December 2019 and the building construction of the ULTRANET substation is scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2020.

Since the future Philippsburg substation is the southern end point of the supra-regional high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line ULTRANET, it will be one of the most important energy hubs in Germany’s soon-to-be energy landscape. ULTRANET, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), is jointly implemented by the two TSCNET shareholders TransnetBW and Amprion. It will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of Germany to the more industrially developed southwest with low losses. In Philippsburg, the transmitted DC will be converted into AC and distributed regionally. In the reverse case, the substation enables the conversion of AC to DC, e.g. to transport excess photovoltaic power from the south to the north.

The fact that the “green” substation will feed renewable electricity into the transmission system instead of nuclear power is a representative of the entire German energy future. “The construction of our DC substation on the site of the cooling towers of the nuclear power plant is a visible sign and symbol of the progress of the energy transition,” comments Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “In future, renewable electricity will flow from the Philippsburg site through the TransnetBW transmission grid to the entire region. Thus, as the TSO in Baden-Württemberg, we ensure that our country will have the electricity it needs even in a future without nuclear power and coal.”

With the cooling towers of the Philippsburg nuclear plant detonated, TransnetBW will begin construction of the ULTRANET substation (picture: screenshot taken from video “Sprengung der Kühltürme des Atomkraftwerks Philippsburg”, in German, YouTube channel of German newspaper “Die Rheinpfalz“)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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Amprion invests €1bn in 525kV cables for A-Nord

12.05.2020

The DC transmission line A-Nord represents the northern part of Corridor A, which is one of the main axes of the German energy transition. The 300-kilometre line from the port city of Emden at the Dollart Bay to Osterath in the Lower Rhine region is being implemented by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). With a capacity of 2GW, A-Nord will transport wind power from the North Sea to the centres of consumption in the Rhineland and Ruhr district. The southern part of Corridor A is the Ultranet line, which is being implemented jointly by Amprion and further TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW.

Like other large-scale German DC interconnection projects that are essential to the country’s low-carbon energy future, A-Nord will be realised via underground cabling. The transmission capacity of 2GW will be achieved by 525kV cables whose efficiency significantly reduces the environmental impact but requires a special insulation material and highly competent suppliers. After extensive technical tests, Amprion has now contracted the underground cables for A-Nord. The specialist companies Prysmian Powerlink and Sumitomo Electric Industries are each supplying one cable system for A-Nord. The manufacturers will produce the systems concurrently with the construction of the line, scheduled to start in 2023.

Dr Hans-Jürgen Brick, CEO of Amprion, comments in view of the challenges to achieve a sustainable energy future: “It is essential that the grid expansion continues to progress swiftly.” Dr Klaus Kleinekorte, the TSO’s CTO, adds: “With this assignment, Amprion once again demonstrates that we are a driving force for innovative developments.”

Amprion has awarded contracts for the 525kV underground cables for the A-Nord power highway (picture: Amprion / Lutz Kampert)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Declaration: “TSOs ensure the lights are kept on”

23.04.2020

“We need to jointly ensure the stability of the electrical system, the service continuity and the operation of our network infrastructures, which represent the real backbone of the interconnected electricity system on a continental scale.” Thus, commences the common statement of the managing directors of numerous European transmission system operators (TSOs) from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. And of course, top staff from TSCNET shareholders are also among the signatories of the declaration, namely Gerhard Christiner (CTO of APG), Klaus Kleinekorte (CTO of Amprion), Manon van Beek (CEO of TennetT), Yves Zumwald (CEO of Swissgrid), and Chris Peeters (CEO of the Elia Group and Chairman of the Board of Directors of 50Hertz).

The CEOs and CTOs emphasise that energy has always been an essential part of European cooperation. Even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is having a huge impact on the lives of the citizens and the worldwide economy. More than ever, electricity remains crucial for daily life, health services and all systemically relevant and critical activities. The main concern of all European TSOs is, obviously, to ensure the general supply of electricity. “Therefore, our highest priority is to keep our staff healthy – especially those who are working in critical positions like the national control centres or indispensable staff for priority preventive maintenance works and urgent damage repairs on our grids.”

The individual TSOs regularly exchange information on their prevention plans and respective measures. These start with hygiene and health protection and end with the preparation of various case scenarios in which the electricity grids would have to be operated with reduced staff. Close cooperation is also established with the respective national authorities to ensure the safe operation of the electricity grids, functioning markets in times of declining electricity demand and, if necessary, priority maintenance work.

However, as responsible and sustainability-oriented companies, the TSOs are already looking ahead to the time after the pandemic and to the green energy landscape of the future. “Keeping the lights on physically is the first step. And with the Green New Deal in mind we are also already actively preparing how to best support the restart of an ever greener economy as soon as possible,” the managers assure. They are certain that the modernisation of electricity systems and the integration of renewable energy sources are an effective growth programme that will safeguard and create jobs: „Keeping the electricity system future proof, supporting the energy transition, the national plans and the European Green New Deal in line with the Paris Agreement is our joint mission and will be a stable growth motor in all our countries in the years to come.”

TSO managers express their commitment to maintaining supply security during the Covid-19 pandemic and their dedication to the green energy future

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> See Swissgrid news release (html)
> See TenneT press release (html)

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Changes in Amprion’s top management

09.04.2020

The supervisory board of Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), has extended the contract with Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick until the end of 2024 and appointed Brick as CEO of the company. The TSCNET shareholder has also expanded its executive board: In addition to Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, who as CTO continues to be responsible for the technical department of the TSO, the management board now also comprises Peter Rüth as new CFO since 1 April.

With these changes, Amprion maintains continuity in top management and at the same time prepares itself for the tasks ahead. These include the growing number of grid extension projects, which requires the enlargement of the management board. Over the next ten years the TSO will invest more than €15.2bn in grid upgrades and expansion. New technologies, for example for reactive power compensation, are increasingly being used. To achieve the company’s objectives, the Amprion workforce doubled between 2009 and 2019 to more than 1,800 employees.

Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick has been a member of the Amprion executive board since 2009 and previously, since 2003, belonged to the management board of RWE Transportnetz Strom, from which Amprion emerged. Prior to his appointment as CEO he held the positions of CFO and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at Amprion. Brick will continue to perform CCO duties. Peter Rüth held various high-ranking positions at the German energy group RWE or its subsidiaries from 2003 to 2016, most recently as Head of Sales Performance International at RWE Deutschland AG. From 2016 to 2020, Rüth served as CFO Retail Germany at innogy SE.

From the left: Hans-Jürgen Brick, Klaus Kleinekorte, and Peter Rüth from Amprion (pictures: Amprion, innogy)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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SIDC: Massive growth in trading volume

02.04.2020

European cross-border Single Intraday Coupling (SIDC) was introduced in June 2018 (then called XBID) to increase the overall efficiency of intraday trading through effective competition, increased liquidity, and more efficient use of generation resources. The overarching objective is the integration of the European energy market. In November 2019, SIDC was extended in a second go-live, so that currently the markets of 22 countries are coupled through SIDC: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden (first go-live), and Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia (second go-live).

The Nominated Electricity Market Operators (NEMOs) from the seven countries of the second go-live report significant growth in trading volume in the coupled intraday market. The Hungarian NEMO HUPX, for example, recorded an average monthly trading volume of around 75,600MWh from December 2019 to February 2020 compared to 7,600MWh in the same period of the preceding year; in the Czech Republic, the volume has increased eightfold. The other NEMOs are also registering significant growth rates. A total of 36 million trades have been executed since SIDC first went live, and the system continues to operate reliably after the second wave.

The SIDC solution is based on a common IT system with a shared order book, a capacity management module and a shipping module. The TSOs cooperating in SIDC include the TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, APG, ČEPS, ELES, HOPS, MAVIR, PSE, TenneT, Transelectrica and TransnetBW, as well as the TSCNET customer Creos from Luxembourg and Energinet from Denmark. With the accession of the NEMO OKTE and further TSCNET shareholder SEPS, the TSO from Bratislava, the project has meanwhile been extended to Slovakia. A third go-live to expand continuous cross-border intraday trading to Greece and Italy is expected in the first quarter of 2021.

The seven new members of SIDC for a single integrated European intraday market are reporting enormous growth in trading volume

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> See Amprion press release (html)
> See PSE press release (html)

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Amprion develops rotating asynchronous phase shifter

27.03.2020

When conventional power generation declines, additional technical measures are needed to ensure the stability of the electricity grids. The energy transition in Germany is prompting the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) to take compensatory measures to keep the grid voltage at the required level. An essential factor in maintaining voltage is reactive power, and TSOs respond to changes in the energy landscape by installing reactive power systems to compensate for the loss of reactive power previously provided by conventional power plants. Reactive power is particularly required for the AC transmission of large amounts of energy over long distances. This is likely to be a common practice in the energy future of Germany.

The German TSO Amprion and Siemens Energy plan to develop and install the world’s first rotating asynchronous phase shifter with a high output of approx. 300MVA. The innovative device is called ARESS: Asynchronous Rotating Energy System Stabilizer. It represents a new and fully integrated technology. In contrast to synchronous phase shifters, ARESS supplies far more rotation energy, especially when providing momentary reserve, and also over a longer period of time. The extremely responsive and powerful electrical equipment thus significantly contributes to frequency stability. ARESS is intended to complement and further develop the Statcom (static synchronous compensator) systems and synchronous phase shifters that are currently in use.

The ARESS project was launched on 26 March with the signing of an agreement by Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO of Amprion, and Dr. Jochen Eickholt, managing director and designated executive board member of Siemens Energy. Due to the Corona pandemic, the documents were signed via video conference. The technology partners are convinced that the ARESS technology can be designed much more cost-effectively and compactly than combinations of available technologies in the same scope of application. Amprion and Siemens Energy expect the project to run for four years until the pilot system can be put into operation.

Amprion and Siemens Energy are developing the rotating asynchronous phase shifter ARESS to provide reactive power (exemplary image of a rotating phase shifter: Siemens)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Construction of ULTRANET substation approved

27.03.2020

The Philippsburg nuclear power plant in the German state of Baden-Württemberg was shut down completely on 31 December 2019. On the power plant site, TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the Transmission System Operator (TSO) from the southwest of Germany, is planning a new DC substation with a required area of around 100,000m². The substation is to become one of the most important energy hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape, as the supra-regional high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line ULTRANET will be connected here to the regional 380kV AC grid.

After intensive planning, TransnetBW submitted the application for construction permit to the competent district administration for examination in June 2018. The Landratsamt Karlsruhe has now approved the plans of the TSO. “The DC substation plays a central role in integrating renewable energies into the transmission grid,” explains Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board. “In the future, renewable electricity will flow from the Philippsburg site to the entire region. We are thus laying a cornerstone for supply security in a future without nuclear power and coal.”

ULTRANET, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), is jointly implemented by TransnetBW and the further TSCNET shareholder Amprion. It will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of Germany to the industrially highly developed southwest. The Philippsburg substation represents the southern end point of ULTRANET. Here, the DC transmitted via ULTRANET to Philippsburg is converted into AC and distributed throughout the region. Vice-versa, the substation allows the conversion of AC into DC, e.g. to transport surplus photovoltaic power from the south to the north.

TransnetBW has received official approval for the construction of the ULTRANET substation in Philippsburg (architectural sketch of the substation: Codema International GmbH / TransnetBW)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (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

Linkup
> 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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