€30m for substation upgrade in Lower Austria

19.05.2020

The grid infrastructure of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO), must comply with the changes in the power system. The APG projects in this regard are essential for the success of the energy transition and indispensable for Austria’s secure future electricity supply. One example of this is the modernisation of the Ternitz substation in Neunkirchen in Lower Austria, which was built in 1965. With its reconstruction, the TSO significantly improves the power supply of the industrial district south of Vienna, Upper Styria and the Mürztal valley in north-eastern Styria. In addition, a new phase-shifting transformer (PST) will increase failure safety for all of Austria and facilitate the smart integration of green electricity such as wind power from the Weinviertel region into the APG grid. All in all, the TSO is investing €30m in the substation upgrade.

The Ternitz substation is an important hub in APG’s supraregional power grid. Its infrastructural significance is emphasised by the new 220/110kV transformer, which will be one of three such PSTs in Austria. In the 220kV grid, it regulates the flow of electricity on the power lines in north-south direction and distributes it evenly to assure full electricity supply for the region and for all of Austria. To maintain reliability also during the time of the reconstruction, APG will be keeping the substation in operation with numerous temporary measures. Construction was originally scheduled to be concluded in December 2020, but due to the corona pandemic, completion is expected to be delayed by about three months and is now scheduled for March 2021.

Since mid-April, about 50 APG construction projects that were suspended after the Covid outbreak have been gradually resumed in compliance with the necessary distance and hygiene requirements. APG is thus living up to its responsibility not only towards the energy industry, but also as a driving force for the Austrian economy as a whole. In 2020, the investment volume of all APG construction projects in the areas of grid extension, renovation and maintenance projects will total €350m.

APG is investing €30m in the upgrade of the Ternitz substation in Lower Austria (picture: Christoph Breneis / APG)

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> See APG press release, in German (html)

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Minor power failure, major solution

29.04.2020

Only 16 minutes long was the power outage, and it affected only part of the state of Salzburg, but for the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG, the small event was nevertheless related to a much bigger project. The Salzburg Line (“Salzburgleitung”) is a 380kv overhead line project of the TSCNET shareholder. The aim is not only to integrate increasing amounts of renewable energy into the grid, but also to ensure the long-term security of electricity supply for the Salzburg region and the whole of Austria. The line is a key factor in meeting #mission2030, the Austrian energy and climate strategy, which sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030.

The current incident has unexpectedly confirmed the necessity of building a new transmission line: Due to a technical defect, the grid coupling of the APG high-voltage grid at the Kaprun substation to the 110kV grid of Salzburg was interrupted, which led to a power outage. Thanks to the swift action of the APG experts, the connection was restored after only a good quarter of an hour. The incident had no critical consequences, but it clearly shows how important additional grid support for the Salzburg distribution grid through the new 380kV line and the new Pongau substation is.

A short-term power outage in the Austrian state of Salzburg underscored the importance of the planned Salzburg Line for grid stability (edited picture of Bruck near Kaprun: Kassandro, Creative Commons)

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> See APG press release, in German (html)

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European power systems operate smoothly

14.04.2020

Despite the unprecedented circumstances caused by the Corona pandemic – in particular the sharp drop in electricity consumption – electricity transmission throughout Europe is proceeding trouble-free and the transmission system operators (TSOs) maintain grid stability and security of supply. The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has made explicit reference to this, emphasising the commitment of the TSOs, their cooperation among each other and the close coordination with authorities and stakeholders.

ENTSO-E supports its members by facilitating their cooperation and exchange of information. Through ENTSO-E, the TSOs regularly consult with the European authorities on how to keep the grid operational so that all, and especially those most affected by the pandemic, can rely on secure electricity supplies. However, as the impact of the pandemic varies considerably from country to country and as countries are at different stages of the pandemic, TSOs must also make their own individual decisions. TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, for instance, has just decided to successively resume construction work on the maintenance and extension of the national electricity grid.

APG suspended construction site activities on 16 March to protect its employees. But since the projects are crucial to the electricity supply, the TSO has now initiated the successive and structured resumption of construction projects following a complex evaluation of each of the approximately 50 construction sites and intensive consultations with the contractors. All this is being done under the highest standards of hygiene, disinfection and distance keeping, because the safety of the employees is the top priority.

European TSOs maintain security of electricity supply during the Corona crisis throughout Europe

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> See APG news release (html)
> See ENTSO-E press release (html)

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Kapetanovic: “European TSOs close ranks”

06.04.2020

Just like the Coronavirus (though fortunately without negative consequences), electricity flows do not stop at national borders. Cross-border coordination and intensive cooperation between all national transmission system operators (TSOs) are always the prerequisite for EU-wide security of supply, and all the more so in times of crisis with electricity consumption declining across Europe. According to Tahir Kapetanovic, Head of the Control Centre of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, and also Chairman of the System Operation Committee, the top-level decision board for grid operations at the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E), uniform rules and standards for grid operation are indispensable.

The timely identification of possible threats to the transmission system is also considered to be crucial for the security of electricity supply in Europe. In this context, Mr Kapetanovic directly refers to the field of supporting activities of the European Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs): “The European data exchange is largely automated and runs via state-of-the art IT systems. The evaluated data provide the basis for the planning of electricity transmission. In this way, we can forecast energy flows for the upcoming hours and, if necessary, initiate transnationally coordinated emergency measures in time, such as the starting up of power plants.”

Despite the drastic decline in electricity consumption in Europe due to the restrictions imposed by the Corona crisis, the exchange and trade of electricity across borders is running smoothly. Occasionally, lower power line utilisation offers additional potential for cross-border support. Surplus electricity from western Europe, for example, was redirected via the Austrian grid of APG and via Slovenia to the northeast of Italy. In the face of the pandemic, everyone has closed ranks: In addition to the best possible mutual support, all TSOs have jointly decided that line disconnections for refurbishments and modifications will be temporarily reduced to the absolute minimum. “In doing so, we maximise transport capacity and thus increase the security of electricity supply in Europe”, states Mr Kapetanovic.

The low electricity demand also influences the European generation mix. Renewable energies are still being fully utilised, but thermal power plants, for instance, are being scaled back for cost reasons. This also has an impact on electricity flows in the transmission system. The TSOs therefore continuously forecast electricity flows for the next 24 hours and coordinate possible measures via video conference every evening. To ensure that this is maintained during the crisis, the operational core staff is protected by strict hygiene and organisational precautions, such as team splitting. All TSOs regularly exchange information on their respective measures throughout Europe.

European TSOs strengthen their cooperation and ensure supply security during the Corona crisis (picture: screenshot taken from ENTSO-E video “Tahir Kapetanovic – Regional Cooperation in the Energy Union”(YouTube))

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> See APG news release, in German (html)

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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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Corona cuts consumption

26.03.2020

Electricity consumption in Europe has fallen significantly because of the restrictions imposed by the corona crisis. In particular, the drastic reduction in industrial production is likely to have a significant impact. The London-based think tank Ember has calculated that demand in the entire EU has fallen by 2 to 7% in the last week compared to the previous week. The analysts at Ember used data on electricity demand provided by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), adjusted for the weather-related factor.

A survey of 22 individual countries shows that Italy, France, and Spain are the most affected countries. In these countries, the decline in demand was twice as strong as in other countries. In Italy, which is currently most afflicted by the corona pandemic, electricity consumption fell by 20% within two weeks. TSCNET shareholder APG, the transmission system operator (TSO) from Austria, also reports that consumption data in some specific Austrian grid areas are 10 to 20% below the previous year’s figures. The national average is 10%, which according to Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG, reflects the pan-European development.

Like all European TSOs, APG is confronted with major challenges, but considers that it is well prepared for the crisis, both technically and in terms of personnel. Of course, each individual TSO has to adapt its operations and measures to the conditions under the pandemic. TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish TSO, for instance, has introduced special guidelines to avoid physical contact on its construction sites. Notwithstanding that a functioning transmission system is essential for modern life at all times, Henrik Riis, CEO of Electricity Transmission at Energinet, calls it “an important social task to keep the wheels turning and do our part to support the Danish economy.” However, this task is performed with all due care: “We take the risk on spreading of infectious disease very seriously.”

While the specialists from the TSOs and from TSCNET Services are on duty around the clock, many shops and production sites in Europe have to remain closed due to the corona pandemic

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> See Ember research on reduced electricity demand (html)
> See APG news release, in German (html)
> See Energinet news 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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APG investigates Flex-Hub concept

24.01.2020

In times of increasing shares of volatile renewable energies, flexibility is an important factor for European transmission system operators (TSOs). For this reason, TSCNET shareholder APG plans to introduce a Flex-Hub, which will enable small, decentralised flexibility resources to participate in the power frequency control of the national electricity grid. Together with the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), a global non-profit foundation to promote block chain technology in the energy sector, the Austrian TSO is conducting a feasibility study for the concept being developed by APG.

This proof of concept is intended to provide a solution for the technical implementation of the Flex-Hub using the open-source software application “Energy Web Decentralised Operating System” (EW-DOS), which includes the blockchain platform of Energy Web. The final objective of the hub concept is to efficiently integrate plant qualification, plant registration, bid management and billing functions of decentralised flexibility providers so that the additional flexibility can be made available for future challenges in power grid operation.

APG is conducting a proof of concept for its Flex-Hub model (picture: APG)

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€2.9bn for Austria’s grid infrastructure

19.12.2019

Grid expansion planning needs to be transparent and internationally coordinated. Each TSCNET shareholder complies with this and the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG has just implemented these principles with its Network Development Plan 2019 (NDP2019). The thoroughly designed NDP has now been approved by E-Control, the government regulator for electricity and natural gas markets in Austria.

APG will invest €2.9bn over the next ten years to ensure the security of supply and the grid in Austria. Many investments are related to the decarbonisation of Austria and the implementation of the Austrian energy and climate strategy “#mission2030”, which sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030. Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG, explains that “many energy-intensive industrial and commercial enterprises will switch to electricity from renewable sources”. This requires extension measures and the NDP defines the infrastructure projects necessary to facilitate the transmission of the required electricity over the next ten years.

In addition to the very important Salzburg line (“Salzburgleitung”) and the Weinviertel Line (“Weinviertelleitung”) in Lower Austria, transmission capacities and power supply in the central Upper Austria region must be extended. To this end, a feed-in concept was developed for industrial customers. Also important is the speedy expansion of transmission capacities between Austria and Germany and between Austria and Italy.

The Austrian NDP2019 has been approved by the competent government regulator (picture: APG)

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Multi Regional Coupling expanded by the end of 2020

17.12.2019

The Multi Regional Coupling (MRC) of the European electricity market is to be substantially enhanced by connecting the so-called 4M Market Coupling Countries (4M MC), i.e. the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, to the Europe-wide MRC. This will establish Single Day-Ahead Coupling across 23 European countries.

In preparation for this market integration, the so-called Interim Coupling Project (DE-AT-PL-4M MC Project) was launched. It has now completed the design phase and is entering the implementation phase. This provides the Nominated Electricity Market Operators (NEMOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs) from Austria (APG), Germany (50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW), Poland (PSE) and the 4M MC countries (ČEPS, MAVIR, Transelectrica and SEPS) with a sound basis for announcing the MRC inclusion for the third quarter of 2020.

The AT-PL-4M MC Project introduces 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 competent National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) welcome the progress made and the synergies from the project, which will facilitate the introduction of Flow-Based Market Coupling in the Core Capacity Calculation Region (Core CCR), which is the ultimate target.

The AT-PL-4M MC project for integrating Czechia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia into MRC has entered the implementation phase.

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> See PSE press release (html)
> See SEPS press release (html)
> Open joint press release (pdf, 216.14kB)

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