Automated intraday capacity allocation at Austrian-Swiss border

05.10.2020

The separation of the bidding zones of Germany (including Luxembourg) and Austria on 1 October 2018 has imposed additional tasks on the transmission system operators (TSOs) directly concerned and also on neighbouring TSOs, notably as regards congestion management. Bidding zones are areas where a wholesale electricity market price applies, and the AT-DE/LU separation resulted in increased demand for intraday cross-border capacity at the Austrian-Swiss border. The two TSCNET shareholders APG from Austria and Swissgrid, the TSO from Switzerland, have reacted to this changed market situation and introduced automated, platform-based intraday capacity allocation.

A border-specific solution was necessary because the Austrian-Swiss border cannot be integrated into Single Intraday Coupling (SIDC, originally introduced as XBID in 2018). Therefore, the intraday allocation of cross-border capacities is still carried out via explicit allocations, but now in an automated process. On 23 September 2020, with the first delivery on 24 September, telephone allocation was switched to a platform-based allocation. The IT platform used – Intraday Capacity Service (ICS) – allocates capacities in accordance with the “first come, first served” principle. After almost two weeks of automated allocation, the two TSOs consider the new, easier intraday trading procedure a success. Swissgrid has already been applying this more efficient allocation of cross-border volume on the Swiss borders with Germany and France.

APG and Swissgrid have successfully introduced automated intraday capacity allocation at the Austrian-Swiss border (picture of the Austrian-Swiss frontier at Diepoldsau/Lustenau: Rikki Mitterer on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

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> See APG market information, in German (html)
> See Swissgrid news release (html)

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Excellent supply reliability in Germany thanks to TSO efforts

11.09.2020

Given the increasing requirements for the transmission grids in the new energy landscape, a high degree of security of electricity supply can only be maintained with considerable effort on the part of the transmission system operators (TSOs) – in Germany and everywhere else. The four German TSOs and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW are as aware of this just as their European colleagues. What they also recognise is that grid extension enhances security of supply, reduces the need for TSO interventions and thus also the costs for congestion management, mainly caused by redispatch. This is also confirmed by independent sources, in this case, the statistics on German supply security in 2019 by the Forum Network Technology / Network Operation (FNN) within the German Association for Electrical Engineering, Electronics, and Information Technology (VDE – Verband der Elektrotechnik, Elektronik und Informationstechnik) – one of Europe’s largest technical-scientific associations with corporate and institutional members.

According to VDE FNN, the power supply in Germany has not only become more sustainable and climate-friendly but has also remained exceptionally reliable – thanks above all to the round-the-clock commitment of the grid operators. The new 2019 disruption and availability statistics prove that the high expenditure in grid operation is successful: Calculated over the entire country, an electricity customer was without electricity for only 12.0 minutes on average in 2019 (2018: 13.3 minutes). This means that every household was supplied with more than 99.997%. To achieve this, TSOs make an enormous effort. They operate the grids within the permissible limits of frequency, voltage, and load although operational requirements are growing due to the energy transition and, among other things, the resulting need to transmit electricity over long distances. Since grid expansion is not progressing as fast as the growth in renewables, grid bottlenecks are increasingly emerging, which the TSOs must resolve.

The effectiveness of grid expansion in Germany is particularly evident from one example in the VDE FNN statistics: The completion of the “Südwest-Kuppelleitung” (aka “Thuringian Power Bridge”) on all three sections in the 50Hertz control area in September 2017 has led to a significant reduction in TSO measures since 2018 and consequently to lower costs for redispatch and compensation – a fact that 50Hertz itself has clearly pointed out in 2019.

The Forum Network Technology / Network Operation has published its disruption and availability statistics (picture of the “Südwest-Kuppelleitung”: 50Hertz)

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> See VDE press release, in German (html)
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50Hertz starts PtH cooperation in Hamburg

09.06.2020

In the control area of the north-east German transmission system operator (TSO) 50Hertz, the installed renewable energy capacity is particularly high. To avoid taking wind turbines off the grid in case of overcapacity, the TSCNET shareholder intends to efficiently use this green excess electricity. 50Hertz is already planning the construction of a Power-to-Heat (PtH) plant in the Baltic Sea port city of Rostock, and now another PTH cooperation in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg complements the cross-sector ambitions of the TSO.

This time the energy service provider GETEC is the partner of 50Hertz. Both companies intend to provide green district heating in the densely populated Mümmelmannsberg district of Hamburg. GETEC operates two combined heat and power (CHP) plants running on natural gas that supply around 7,000 residential and commercial units. In future, one of the two CHP units is to be regulated down if, during high wind conditions, more electricity is generated in northern Germany than can be transmitted to the south. This is where the PtH plant with an output of 5MW comes into play to convert the excess green electricity in an electrode boiler into emission-free district heating. The CHP and PtH units will be coordinated by smart control technology.

The investment costs amounting to €1.2m are fully covered by 50Hertz and the system is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2021. Dr Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, emphasises that the cooperation represents the first time for 50Hertz to support the construction of such a facility in a large city. The Hamburg PtH cooperation enables 50Hertz to “relieve a bottleneck in the extra-high voltage grid between Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein to some extent and contribute to the more efficient use of wind power from the northern Germany”.

50Hertz launches a PtH cooperation in Hamburg to use excess wind energy (picture: Jermaine Ee, Unsplash)

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Smart Grid of the future tested

07.04.2020

Small decentralised power generation plants, storage units and consumers must increasingly take on the role of stabilising the transmission system, a task that has so far been performed mainly by large, centralised power plants. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), TSCNET shareholder TenneT, is participating in two projects investigating the technical feasibility of decentralised stabilisation options. These two projects are C/sells with a focus on southern Germany and solar energy and enera with a focus on northern Germany and wind energy. Besides TenneT, C/sells and enera comprise various actors from the energy sector, research institutions and distribution system operators (DSOs). Both projects involve regional online platforms for the management of decentralised flexibilities and are funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in the framework of the innovation programme “Smart Energy Showcases” (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie” – SINTEG).

To connect suppliers and demanders of flexibility, C/sells has developed a flexibility platform called “comax”: Providers of flexibility report existing potential and grid operators can access this potential and coordinate with each other to retrieve their respective needs. In the enera project, a stock exchange-based local flexibility market is being developed that merges supply and demand for flexibility and allocates it to grid operators in a highly efficient manner. By linking the two online platforms of C/sells and enera, the smart grid of the future has now been field-tested and the targeted control of decentralised electricity consumers, storage facilities and generators has been trialled under real conditions throughout Germany for the first time.

During the test run, in coordination with the DSOs involved, the electricity demand of a storage facility in the northern windy state of Lower Saxony was increased at the request of TenneT to absorb electricity from renewable energy sources. At the same time, biogas and CHP (combined heat and power) plants in the south of Germany fed more electricity into the grid to meet the local demand. This has reduced the amount of electricity to be transmitted through the power grid and helped to eliminate bottlenecks.

Tim Meyerjürgens, COO at TenneT, comments on the successful test: “In the future, we will need millions of decentralised systems to stabilise the transmission grid. To this end, grid operators at all levels must collaborate and develop new tools to exploit the potential of CHP plants, heat pumps, biogas plants, battery storage, electric cars, power-to-gas plants and other decentralised facilities for greater grid security. Our test has shown how this works successfully.”

TenneT carried out a successful test on how to use decentralised consumers, storage facilities and generators to stabilise the grid (picture: screenshot taken from the C/sells website)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Visit C/sells website (html)
>Visit enera website, in German (html)

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Interview: “Consumption drop considered”

27.03.2020

The current decline in Europe-wide electricity consumption is significant and requires both European transmission system operators (TSOs) and Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) to adapt to the lower feed-in rates. “In general, it is expected that the demand for electricity in 2020 will decrease noticeably due to the corona crisis. Some EU member states expect a drop of 10 to 15 percent of annual electricity demand,” explains Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based RSC in an interview with “ZfK” (Zeitung für Kommunale Wirtschaft), one of Germany’s leading trade journals of the energy and utility industry.

As regards the reaction of energy market participants, Neubauer comments that this decline is being considered in grid management and included in the daily forecasting processes by the TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs). Neubauer sees no threat to supply security: “All suppliers and operators of power plants and critical infrastructures have emergency plans.” These are implemented immediately to ensure the operability of the infrastructures. A favourable factor is that there are currently no external influences, such as natural disasters or critical grid situations, to interfere with operational processes. “The main focus is currently on protecting the operational personnel in order to ensure 24/7 operation of the critical infrastructure levels.”

Needless to say, this also applies to TSCNET Services itself. Although the European RSCs do not have direct grid control responsibility, they do carry out the regional analysis of the transmission system together with the TSOs and act as an early warning system, which identifies possible bottlenecks and dangerous situations. Together with the TSO control centres, the RSC then initiates mitigation measures. To continue providing 24/7 support to TSOs, TSCNET has taken all actions to protect its staff from the pandemic. This includes sending almost all employees to work from home and special protective measures for the operations team. Since almost all TSCNET processes are already highly digitised, the current situation does not present the Munich RSC with extreme challenges.

Despite the pandemic-related decline in power consumption, Maik Neubauer expects no fundamental problems for grid security

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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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TenneT concludes successful V2G pilot

04.03.2020

Considering the increase in renewable energies, electromobility represents an additional challenge, but also an opportunity for transmission system operators (TSOs). The decentralised feed-in of renewable energies leads to transport bottlenecks in the transmission grid, but when it comes to balancing power generation and consumption, electric vehicles can contribute to maintaining the balance and security of supply. For this reason, TSCNET shareholder Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, is intensively researching this field. Together with car manufacturer Nissan and energy service provider The Mobility House, the TSO now has successfully concluded a substantive vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot project, which was initiated in March 2018.

As part of a SINTEG (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie” – “Smart Energy Showcases“) project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the partners have investigated the potential of electric vehicle batteries in storing and feeding back locally produced electricity in order to stabilise the power grid and at the same time increase the use of renewable energies and save CO2. During the project phase, Nissan electric vehicles were deployed as mobile energy storage systems in the TenneT control area in northern and southern Germany to instantly reduce local overloads in power supply and demand.

The project offers a significant solution to the increasingly frequent bottlenecks. The wind power available in northern Germany was used by electric cars in the region. At the same time, in the south, electricity from fully charged batteries of Nissan LEAF vehicles was fed back into the grid instead of raising fossil generation. These smart redistribution measures were controlled by software from The Mobility House, the smart charge and energy management system ChargePilot, which follows TenneT’s specifications and also considers the mobility and charging requirements of vehicle users.

TenneT managing director Tim Meyerjürgens comments on the V2G research: “The pilot project has shown that we will be able to use electric mobility in the future to flexibly manage renewable electricity production, which is highly dependent on the weather. This relieves the strain on the electricity grid and helps us to limit the expensive throttling of wind turbines. The short-term flexibility, which is thus provided to us by electromobility, can supplement the grid expansion and become an important component of the energy transition.”

TenneT, Nissan, and The Mobility House have successfully concluded a research project on the use of automobile battery systems for grid stabilisation (picture: screenshot taken from TenneT video “Kooperationsprojekt Stabilisierung des Stromnetzes – Vehicle 2 Grid“, YouTube)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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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)
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“The grid demands digitisation and AI”

02.03.2020

Europe’s high-voltage grid has a total length of around 485,000km and continuously feeds in approx. 1,152,017MW of electricity. The transnational grid can be considered as the backbone of all European critical infrastructures, whose reliable operation is essential for Europe to function as an economic zone. Since this aspect is too often neglected, Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based Regional Security Coordinator (RSC), has taken the opportunity to share his views on the prospects of the European electricity transmission system in an interview in the current issue (1/2020) of the “THEMEN:magazin”. This German-language medium bi-monthly provides reports on economic challenges and opportunities with a focus on energy policy.

Neubauer points out that, although the European interconnected grid is one of the most complex infrastructures in the world, there have so far hardly been any significant blackout situations – thanks to the cooperation of the European transmission system operators (TSOs), which has been well-established for decades. But since the energy transition is a pan-European project, the increasing flows of electricity from renewable sources do not stop at the border. European TSOs face the challenge of integrating numerous additional energy sources into the grid and operational control processes. Due to the predominance of nuclear and fossil power generation to date, the forecasting and control processes for optimum utilisation and balancing of the European grid have so far been rather deterministic, which is currently changing at a rapid pace with the volatile renewable energies.

Therefore, in addition to grid expansion and swift digitisation of control processes, increased European coordination of congestion and capacity management is essential. The EU network codes and, of course, the RSCs are crucial for this, as Neubauer emphasises. The RSCs receive data on expected grid situations from almost all European TSOs. This information is aggregated by the RSCs to provide an “early warning system” that identifies potential bottlenecks and threats to the grid. The RSCs thus support their TSO customers to counteract potential blackout situations in Europe by taking real- and near-time mitigation actions in their system operations and planning departments. Nevertheless, according to Neubauer, swift digitisation is inevitable to cope with the increasing data volumes in European grid management caused by the integration of renewable energy sources.

Without the seamless interaction of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT), secure grid management will hardly be possible in the future. Neubauer also predicts that without a high level of artificial intelligence (AI), the complexity in critical infrastructures will no longer be controllable by humans in the medium term. Therefore, AI will soon also radically change the energy sector. Neubauer is well aware, however, that IT security and cyber security must have the highest priority in order to safeguard developments in AI and protect highly critical infrastructures from misuse or even terrorism.

“Artificial intelligence will be indispensable” – in an interview with the “THEMEN:magazin”, Maik Neubauer presented his view on the perspectives of the European electricity transmission system

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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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