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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Blockchain technology for a flexible grid

03.11.2017

A decentralised and flexible grid management is likely to be recognised as appropriate reaction to an increasing decentralised infeed of renewables into the transmission system. The renewable’s volatility often causes bottlenecks or overloads in the grid and consequently forces transmission system operators (TSOs) to engage in stabilising measures. After thorough and lengthy preparations, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, has started the first European pilot project employing decentralised networked home energy storage systems and blockchain technology to stabilise the grid.

Partners of TenneT in this six-month pilot project are sonnen, the world’s largest company for residential energy storage, and IBM. The latter has developed the blockchain solution, while sonnen provides the pool of home energy storage systems building the network. These decentralised storage systems are integrated into TenneT’s grid via blockchain technology, which means that the TSO is able to use those systems for redispatch. In this way, blockchain technology offers possibilities to employ decentralised networks to flexibly and intelligently manage electricity flows.

Urban Keussen, chairman of the board of TenneT, values blockchain based concepts as possible royal road to the future integration of the renewables. Mr Keussen explains: “As grid operator, we are taking a new approach to better integrate decentralised renewable energy sources and secure supply. At the same time, we offer citizens the opportunity to actively participate in the energy transition.”

> See TenneT press release, (html)

Picture: TenneT

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TenneT explores methods of flexible grid management

03.05.2017

Hence the renewables’ share in the electricity generation in Europe is growing constantly, the transmission grid is becoming more volatile. In the future, electricity from conventional sources might not meet the customers’ demand in some areas, and already now, the often inflexible energy system is leading to overloads of the transmission grid in times of high input of renewable energy – thus forcing transmission system operators (TSOs) to conduct stabilising grid interventions. In order to maintain grid stability and supply security within its control area, TSC member TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, is exploring new approaches in view of a decentralised and flexible grid management.

TenneT is running two pilot projects on new methods of balancing future supply and demand, one in the Netherlands together with green energy supplier Vandebron, and one in Germany together with sonnen eServices, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Both projects involve the Blockchain platform technology, which is developed by IBM to connect multiple market participants and numerous distributed computed nodes in order to perform joint actions in a transparent, scalable, and trusted network. In the Dutch project, Vandebron will make the battery capacities of its customers with electric cars available to TenneT via the blockchain. In Germany, TenneT gets access to sonnen’s network of residential solar batteries. In both cases, an additional pool of available and flexible energy is presented to the TenneT operator, ready for activation by the push of a button and thus possibly helping to reduce measures of congestion management and supporting the integration of renewables.

Mel Kroon, CEO at TenneT TSO B.V. (Netherlands), and Urban Keussen, CEO at TenneT TSO GmbH (Germany), acknowledge the high potential of both pilot projects. According to Mr Kroon, they present a “part of TenneT’s broader strategy of preparing the electricity system to accommodate the growing volume of renewable energy”. Mr Keussen adds, that the blockchain offers new possibilities of networking decentralised distributed systems smart and securely. And what’s more: “With this innovative project, we offer citizens the opportunity to play an active part in shaping the energy transition.”

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

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