Launch of the Equigy balancing platform

25.04.2020

To ensure the stability of the grid frequency, transmission system operators (TSOs) all over Europe respond to the increasingly volatile generation of energy from renewable sources and to the loss of reactive power from large power plants. The challenge of keeping production and consumption in balance does not stop at national borders, for which reason the TSCNET shareholders Swissgrid, the TSO from Switzerland, and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, are cooperating with the Italian TSO Terna in the crowd balancing platform Equigy. The platform is based on blockchain technology and the internet of things. It is conceived as digital link between the so-called TSO ancillary service markets and the market players that deliver balancing services. TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish TSO, has formally expressed its intention to join the consortium, which would extend Equigy’s roll-out to Denmark.

With their cross-border cooperation, the consortium of Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna wants to set a new electricity-balancing standard, improve the integration of renewables, and provide more flexibility to reduce the renewables’ random impact on the grid. As with previous, regionally limited balancing projects, Equigy aims to unlock flexibility by actively involving small and distributed consumer-based generation and consumption units in grid stabilisation. This involvement enables owners of small-scale assets to play a key role in the transformation of the energy sector by optimising their interaction with the grid. Since Equigy processes multiple small transactions, it requires a secure and scalable solution that ensures trust and transparency between all parties involved. The common vision of the participating TSOs is clear: Millions of households will stabilise the electricity grid in the future.

Open and free of charge
Equigy is based on block chain technology to execute transactions from millions of individual systems securely, cost-effectively, and transparently. This creates a single, immutable, and secure data source from which all parties can benefit. Precise rules and regulations allow consumers, businesses, and manufacturers to easily market the flexible capacity of electric vehicles, household batteries, and heat pumps in all participating countries, regardless of location, thereby simplifying access to the electricity market. At the same time, all local or regional flexibility platforms can be connected to the Equigy platform so that as much flexibility as possible can be bundled. This means: Equigy is not exclusive and can be integrated into existing grid stabilisation processes. The technology and software are open-source and provided free of charge to promote the development of secondary applications in the energy value chain. Equigy has now been successfully launched, and the pilot project to test the technology will run until the end of 2020.

In Switzerland, the project has attracted a lot of interest. Numerous partners have expressed an interest in participating. Yves Zumwald, CEO of Swissgrid, comments: “We are proud to be a founding partner of Equigy. It’s only natural that this ambitious initiative is being driven by TSOs. We are not subject to commercial constraints and are able to operate the new platform adopting a neutral position.” Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, can also be pleased to have various Equigy partners in Germany and the Netherlands. She emphasises the European dimension of the project: “Equigy originated from European cooperation. In a common European market, we will have to develop solutions together. We already have the same sockets. It would be a shame and unnecessarily expensive to develop different systems.”

Expansion to the north
The Danish TSO Energinet recognises the potential of Equigy and is highly interested in participating. The consortium behind Equigy appreciates this interest. Swissgrid, TenneT, Terna, and Energinet have thus signed a Letter of Intent in which the parties confirm their common interest in including Energinet in Equigy. Energinet will now examine the possibilities of becoming part of the cooperation. All partners aim to take a decision on Energinet’s accession before the end of this year. Søren Dupont Kristensen, CEO of Energinet Electricity System Operator, explains: “We are now investigating the potential of this platform in the context of the Danish energy system. Based on our findings, we will decide on joining the collaboration regarding the platform.”

The blockchain based crowd balancing platform Equigy has been launched by Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna

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> See Energinet news release (html)
> See Swissgrid news release (html)
> See TenneT news release (html)
> Visit Equigy website (html)

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Swissgrid: Solid figures to promote innovation

23.04.2020

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.

Swissgrid reports solid results in its Annual Report 2019 (picture: Swissgrid)

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> See Swissgrid media release (html)
> Open Annual Report 2019 (pdf, 1.6MB)

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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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> See APG press release, in German (html)

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High potential of blockchained home storage systems

09.05.2019

Maintaining the balance of the transmission system despite volatility of renewables and lack of conventional operating reserves is an essential future concern of European transmission system operators (TSOs). In search of adequate balancing solutions, a worldwide unique pilot project for the blockchain-based networking of home storage systems was launched in 2017. The cooperation partners are TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, and sonnen, a company specialised in smart power storage. The promisingly completed pilot demonstrates the potential of blockchain technology to become a key application for the efficient provision of network stabilising measures.

The aim of the pilot was to test the suitability of blockchained storage systems for preventing emergency measures in the event of bottlenecks, e. g. the throttling of wind farms. To this end, TenneT deployed a virtual power station comprising of home storage systems specially provided by sonnen with a blockchain solution by IBM. The intelligent charge management of the battery storage systems adapted itself individually to the respective situation in the TenneT grid, whereby the batteries absorb or release excess current within seconds if required.

Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the succesful project: “We’ve shown for the first time how it’s technically feasible to utilise blockchain technology so households can stabilise the power grid via their home storage systems.” Actually, the results are so promising that TenneT intends to undertake further blockchain programmes, especially as by 2030 there could already be decentralised battery storage facilities in Germany with a total capacity of up to 10,000MW.

A pilot project by TenneT on blockchained home storage systems for grid stabilisation has proven the high potential of this technological approach (picture: edited screenshot taken from sonnen video “The largest virtual battery to compensate for fluctuations in the power grid”, YouTube)

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TenneT performs blockchain pilots successfully

29.01.2019

The energy transition demands digital transition – the number of renewable sources is increasing, while in the future there will be less and less conventional plants available to ensure the required flexibility and stability in the grid for which the transmission system operators (TSOs) are responsible. As such, the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT is constantly seeking new decentralised sources that can replace lost flexibility. In addition to wind and solar energy, these can include batteries, industrial plants or cogeneration. This is where digitisation comes in, because only through so-called “aggregator” and block chain technology the capacity and potential of all these sources can be combined and fully utilised.

TenneT has launched two pilot projects last year, one in the Netherlands and one in Germany, both employing blockchain technology. In the first case, e-vehicles and in the second case household batteries were used to balance the grid and avoid congestions. The blockchain application is an IBM development and the Dutch green electricity supplier Vandebron is the cooperation partner in the Netherlands. Vandebron provides battery capacity from e-car charging sessions at TenneT’s request. In this way, the TSO can draw on an additional electricity pool. In Germany, TenneT collaborates with Sonnen E-services, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Decentralised household batteries from Sonnen are integrated into the TenneT network via a blockchain and interconnected. Through the smart use of these batteries, Sonnen contributes to facilitating power transmission in Germany.

Since both blockchain tests were successful, TenneT and IBM have signed a contract for the further development of blockchain technology. The companies will intensify the implementation so that many more parties can gain access to the electricity market. Three new partners have already been won as additional “aggregators” to ensure improved matching of electricity supply and demand. TenneT CEO Manon van Beek explains that the TSO offers not only “a new way of integrating decentralised sources”, but also “private individuals a good opportunity to participate actively in the energy transition, making the energy transition more affordable together”.

TenneT has successfully conducted two blockchain research pilot projects (picture: Sonnen GmbH)

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Households supersede power plants

05.12.2018

It is widely known that the closure of conventional power plants in the course of the energy transition and the resulting decrease in operating reserve pose demanding challenges to transmission system operators (TSOs). They now have to compensate for this lost reserve to ensure stability of the transmission grid and secure the customer supply. In its search for new approaches, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, has been cooperating for quite some time with the sonnen GmbH, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Now a breakthrough has been announced: For the first time, sonnen provides operating reserves throughout Germany with its networked home storage systems.

This means that the currently largest virtual battery, which can compensate for grid fluctuations, goes into operation. This battery works in a unique way: It consists of thousands of individual electricity storage units, which are used for the own energy consumption of their respective households. If there are deviations in the power grid, these batteries automatically arrange themselves into a virtual large battery by means of artificial intelligence. Households are thus capable of performing the same compensation functions as conventional power plants and short-term deviations in the grid can be compensated very quickly. For this reason, sonnen, together with its technology partner tiko Energy Solutions, has been prequalified by TenneT to provide primary control reserve.

The prequalification of the virtual battery system for the primary control power market is subject to the strictest technical and safety requirements. Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, comments on the innovative technology: “That networked battery storages as virtual power plants are now able to stabilise the grid in the event of frequency deviations, is a further step on the road to increased system integration of renewable energies.”

TenneT has prequalified a virtual battery system consisting of individual storage units for the provision of operating reserve (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Watch sonnen demonstration video, in German (YouTube)

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TenneT identified as digital pioneer

26.06.2018

“Digitalisation is becoming increasingly important for the secure and efficient operation of the grid, which is why we are the first transmission system operator (TSO) to broadly explore the possibilities offered by digitalisation.“ Lex Hartman, executive board member of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, has every reason to make that claim, since the Dutch-German TSO has been designated one of the top 10 Dutch “Transformers” in the digital transformation.

For the annual “FD Transformers” survey conducted by the Dutch newspaper “Het Financieele Dagblad” and the Vlerick Business School, 200 of the largest Dutch companies have been taken into account. René Kerkmeester, Senior Manager Digital Transformation at TenneT, emphasises the essential contribution of TenneT‘s digitalisation team to the company‘s high ranking and concludes: “We are preparing our organisation and the electricity market for a sustainable future, with a greater share of renewable energy sources.“

Currently, the TSO carries out four digitalisation projects, including three blockchain solution pilots in Germany and the Netherlands to facilitate access to local and decentral electricity capacities. These projects involve home energy storage systems and vehicle-to-grid-technologies respectively. Another blockchain pilot focuses on e-car batteries to compensate for frequency deviations. The fourth project explores the potential of sensors in vehicles for the improvement of solar energy generation forecasts. TenneT has announced to launch more pilot projects in the coming months.

The Dutch-German TSO TenneT proves to be a digital frontrunner. Illustration on a digital enterprise (source: www.siemens.com/presse).

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Pilot for customer integration and data exchange

15.03.2018

Flexible consumption is the appropriate response to the volatile production of green electricity, and flexibility would be promoted if the electricity system were at least partially bidirectional. According to TSCNET shareholder Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), this is where the customer comes into play. For example, electricity consumers should be able to sell power from the battery in their electric car to the grid. Of course, this requires data and new market models that actively use the flexibility of consumers.

“Consumers should be at the centre of the future energy system”, explains Søren Dupont Kristensen, Senior Vice President at Energinet. Already since June 2017, the Danish TSO has been operating a datahub collecting all consumption data for private consumers. That also applies to the Estonian TSO Elering. On this account, the two TSOs have recently signed an agreement on a joint pilot project in the Estonian capital of Talinn. The aim is to develop a new technology that gives market players access to consumer consumption data in a simple and secure way, as well as to establish a cros-border data exchange system.

The two TSOs have already begun the first tests of the blockchain-based authentication and authorisation system called “Sovrin”. Fail-safe identification of consumers or electrical devices, protected handling of consumer data, and secure communication between systems and plants are all overly important in this regard. Søren Dupont Kristensen emphasises that Energinet and Elering are working on “technical specifications, to allow anyone who wants to use it to develop similar solutions”. Thus, an open source solution is intended, so that the research could also be for the benefit of other TSOs.

> See Energinet press release (html)

Picture: Elering

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E-mobility to promote grid stability

14.03.2018

In times not only of increasing renewable feed-in but also of expanding e-mobility, maintaining the balance between electricity generation and consumption is becoming more and more challenging. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has started another joint research project on possibilities of utilising electric cars for grid control. The partners are energy service provider The Mobility House and car manufacturer Nissan. In addition to technical solutions, the project members strive to develop and evaluate proposals for regulatory guidelines for vehicle-to-grid technologies.

The new project is a complementation to TenneT’s blockchain projects on flexible grid management. Its technical core is the bidirectional potential of car batteries. These store locally produced electricity, that could be fed back into the grid “for redispatch, in other words, to dispel transmission bottlenecks in the grid”, as Lex Hartman, member of TenneT’s executive board, puts it. Mr Hartman adds, that the new project is apt “to supplement the grid expansion and become an important building block for the energy transition”.

In a first phase of the project, Nissan’s electric vehicles will be used as mobile storage systems in TenneT’s German control areas to directly reduce local supply or demand overload. The vehicle-to-grid software developed by The Mobility House allows automated control of the charging and discharging processes. After successful testing and implementation, the bidirectional charging technology could be used throughout Germany.

> See TenneT press release (html)

Picture: TenneT

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Pilot project on e-cars to support grid stability

22.12.2017

Maintaining the balance between demand and supply is the core activity of any electricity transmission system operator (TSO). Since the energy transition implies increasingly decentralised energy production and thus a massive change in the European power system, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, is constantly exploring new possibilities of utilising such decentralised and flexible electricity sources. In May 2017, TenneT has launched two blockchain technology based pilot projects on flexible grid management involving networked home energy storage systems and electric cars respectively.

Now the TSO actively involves e-car owners in the project, in which the Dutch green energy supplier Vandebron is TenneT’s collaborator. Vandebron has developed a method to provide battery capacities originating from e-car charging sessions of various of its customers. In this way, the TSO can draw on an additional electricity pool in order to avoid grid congestions and support the integration of renewables. Mel Kroon, CEO at TenneT, not only sees the benefits for the supply security, but also states: “We are offering members of the public a wonderful opportunity to play an active role in the energy transition.”

> See TenneT press release (html)

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