Construction start of Slovenian-Hungarian interconnector

16.10.2020

A glance at the guest list of the official ceremony for the start of construction of the Cirkovce-Pince overhead line reveals that a major project has been launched here. The Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO) ELES had the honour to welcome both the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban to the opening event for the new construction. And indeed, the project is of historic proportions, as the 400kV AC line, a good 80 kilometres long, will be the first interconnector between the Slovenian and Hungarian transmission systems.

The double circuit line with 264 pylons will increase the operational reliability of the Slovenian transmission system and import transmission capacity, facilitate access to energy sources from the North and East, and allow for the integration of larger amounts of renewable energy from the whole region into the grid. The line runs from the Cirkovce substation in the northeastern Slovenian region of Lower Styria to the border settlement of Pince, which is not only on the Hungarian border, but also in the triangle of Slovenia, Croatia, and Hungary. Therefore, in addition to the substation of the Hungarian TSO MAVIR in Hévíz in Zala County, the substation of the Croatian TSO HOPS in Žerjavinec near Zagreb can also be connected to the new line, truly a European Project of Common Interest (PCI). The power line will thus even interconnect three countries. The presence of Gordan Grlić-Radman, Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, confirmed the trinational dimension of the Cirkovce-Pince line.

At the ceremony with symbolic unveiling of the construction panel, Aleksander Mervar, CEO of ELES, illustrated the supraregional significance of the power line: “This project is of great importance not only for Slovenia but also for the wider region and Europe. That is why this project was included on the list of Projects of Common Interests in 2015, while in 2019 we managed to acquire €50m funds.” Mr Mervar also explained that the project, which includes major upgrades of switchgears in Cirkovce, is the largest investment in transmission infrastructure in the history of ELES, totalling some €150m. Finally, he emphasised the good cooperation of the three TSCNET shareholders ELES, HOPS, and MAVIR: “Without this cooperation, this project would surely not be happening today.”

ELES has started construction of the Cirkovce-Pince 400kV line, which will connect the transmission grids of Slovenia, Hungary, and Croatia (picture: ELES; from right to left: Gordan Grlić-Radman, Viktor Orban, Janez Janša; second from left: Aleksander Mervar)

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> See ELES press release (html)
> Visit project website (html)

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Successful test run of SINCRO.GRID’s VVC function

07.10.2020

SINCRO.GRID is a smart grid project of the two transmission system operators (TSOs) HOPS from Croatia and ELES from Slovenia. With SINCRO.GRID, the two TSCNET shareholders are responding to the increasing lack of flexibility and reactive power in the transmission system, which in Croatia and Slovenia, as in many parts of Europe, results from the increasing integration of decentralised, volatile renewable energy sources (RES). Two distribution system operators (DSOs) from the respective countries are also involved in the European Project of Common Interest (PCI). The aim of the project partners is to optimise grid efficiency via advanced technologies and innovative data processing, including compensation devices, a dynamic thermal rating system, a battery power storage system, and a virtual cross-border control centre.

As HOPS reports, an important step has been taken towards the establishment of the binational SINCRO.GRID control centre, whose prime task is to integrate reactive power compensation devices in Croatia and Slovenia into a joint operation to fully exploit their synergy potential. The centre will thus enable voltage control and loss optimisation in transmission systems, better control and forecasting of electricity generation from RES, and the participation of RES in the provision of ancillary services.

On 30 September 2020, the SINCRO.GRID Q-U system with Volt Var Control (VVC) function was operated for the first time in fully automatic closed loop for four hours without any human intervention. All calculated VVC data were automatically sent by the Q-U system to seven transformers in three HOPS substations, optimising the transmission network in north-western Croatia. After successful testing in fully automatic mode, the test was continued in semi-automatic mode with transformers and two generators in one power station. The information and experience obtained from the test run will be used for the further analysis of the Q-U system and its application to the whole Croatian transmission system and finally for the implementation of the HOPS-ELES virtual cross-border control centre.

HOPS has carried out a successful test run of the Q-U system with VVC function within the SINCRO.GRID project (picture: HOPS)

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> See HOPS press release, in Croatian (html)
> See SINCRO.GRID news (html)

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50Hertz joins new UN sustainable economic initiative

23.09.2020

With its strategy of 100% integration of renewable energy, 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the north-east of Germany, is deeply committed to a sustainable design of the future energy and economic landscape. For this reason, the TSCNET shareholder, together with a vast number of other international companies, has joined a new UN economic initiative, whose supporters have committed themselves to global cooperation and sustainable development goals. “United in the Business of a Better World” is the headline of the statement by the “Business Leaders for Renewed Global Cooperation”.

The initiative is in the context of the UN Global Compact, a UN pact to stimulate businesses all over the world to pursue sustainable and socially responsible policies. The statement was presented on 21 September in New York at this year’s UN General Assembly. Over 1,000 CEOs of companies from more than 100 countries have signed the declaration, which calls for more cooperation across borders, sectors, and generations: “Public and private institutions need to show they are accountable, ethical, inclusive and transparent. This is the only way to strengthen public trust and achieve a more sustainable future for all.” Therefore, the signatories are obligated, inter alia, to ethical leadership, values-based strategies, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making, accountability and transparency, legal certainty, equality, and human rights.

“From 60 to 100 by 2032”, the TSO’s own sustainability initiative to cover 100% of the electricity demand in the 50Hertz grid area with renewable energies by the year 2032, fully complies with the UN goals. “The transformation of the energy system towards climate neutrality is the central element of a sustainable, global climate protection policy,” commented Stefan Kapferer, CEO of 50Hertz, on the publication of the declaration. “With this new strategic ambition, we are not only contributing to the achievement of climate policy goals, but also quite explicitly to the sustainable strengthening of the industrial sites in our grid area. This is the very concrete contribution of 50Hertz to meeting the Paris Climate Change Agreement and thus the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.”

50Hertz joins the UN initiative “Business Leaders for Renewed Global Cooperation” for sustainable development goals (picture: 50Hertz)

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> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)
> Open Renewed Global Corporation statement (pdf, 847.77kB)

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ALEGrO on the final straight

17.09.2020

Lichtenbusch near the westernmost German city of Aachen is located directly on the border between Germany and Belgium and is divided into a Belgian and a German part. Right here, on 16 September 2020, the final joint of the “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay” (ALEGrO) was installed by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and its Belgian partner TSO Elia. Over a distance of 90 kilometres, the DC interconnector with a transmission capacity of 1,000MW connects the Oberzier substation in the German Rhineland region with the Elia substation in Lixhe in the Walloon province of Liège. ALEGrO is the first direct link between the Belgian and German electricity grids and was realised over its entire length by means of underground cables.

The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) provides much needed grid capacity for cross-border electricity flows, while strengthening security of supply in the German region of Aachen-Cologne and the Belgian province of Liège. The cable laying work for ALEGrO started in October 2018 and after twenty months of construction, the civil engineering work was concluded in June 2020. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, ALEGrO is thus on schedule and nearing completion. The binational power bridge will go into technical operation in October 2020 and will be available to the European electricity market from mid-November. The technical integration of the DC cable into the three-phase grid is a step by step process. The same applies to the parallel market integration. Here, day-ahead capacities are offered first followed by intraday capacities. The allocation of long-term capacities will start in early 2021.

Amprion and Elia installed the final link of the ALEGrO interconnector, which will go into technical operation soon (picture of the project managers Ingo Sander, Amprion, and Dirk Wellens, Elia: Amprion)

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> See Amprion press release (html)

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Successful trial run for Equigy

09.09.2020

Fluctuations in the transmission grid are an emerging concern for European transmission system operators (TSOs) as volatile renewable generation gains in importance with the energy transition and more and more large scale power plants that stabilise the grid are being decommissioned – resulting in a considerable loss of reactive power. TSOs need to take remedial action involving intelligent technologies and supported by small, decentralised energy sources to keep production and consumption in balance. One such solution for the provision of primary control energy is the crowd balancing platform Equigy launched by the Swiss TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid in cooperation with further TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, and the Italian TSO Terna.

Kick-off for Equigy was in April 2020 and the objective is a new European standard allowing the participating – and possibly more – TSOs to collaborate for promotion and improvement of the renewable energy market. The innovative platform is based on blockchain technology and the Internet of Things to enable the integration of small, decentralised units such as home battery storage systems, photovoltaic systems, small-scale hydropower systems, heat pumps or even electric cars into the balancing energy market. The pilot project now has reached its first milestone: Together with Alpiq, a Swiss energy services provider and electricity producer, Swissgrid has successfully tested the process of calling up primary control power through the balancing platform. The test employed a 1.2MW battery as a flexible energy resource. Alpiq has assumed the role of commercial aggregator, linking the technical aggregator, which controls the controllable resources, with Swissgrid.

In particular, the call-up of primary control energy included the registration of flexible resources, submission of offers and awarding of bids, as well as real-time monitoring of data exchange between Alpiq and Swissgrid. The test has proven that a blockchain can support the process of providing primary control power and that aggregators or storage owners with backend systems can integrate the blockchain interfaces. The Equigy trial run has clearly indicated the potential of blockchain solutions for the future support of business processes in the field of primary control energy – this is a fundamental finding and a significant step forward. The next steps concern the evaluation of possible business models among the participating partners.

The blockchain-based crowd balancing platform Equigy by Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna passed trial run

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

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First successful device installation within FARCROSS

28.08.2020

The FARCROSS (FAcilitating Regional CROSS-border Electricity Transmission through Innovation) project, which started in October 2019, is a four-year project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme. The objective of FARCROSS is to find solutions for increased regional cross-border cooperation in electricity transmission. The connection of regional key players in the energy value chain and the introduction of integrated hardware and software solutions are intended to tap additional resources for cross-border electricity flows. The FARCROSS consortium of 31 partners includes the transmission system operators (TSOs) from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Greece together with the TSCNET shareholders APG (Austria), Hops (Croatia), MAVIR (Hungary), and Transelectrica (Romania).

The three demonstration areas of FARCROSS are smart grid innovations, the development of regional system operations platforms to allow improved system operation forecasting on TSO level, and the optimisation of capacity allocation for regional cross-border trading. The technical grid solutions involve special line monitoring sensors, which are based on the Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) technology for real time overhead line monitoring. These sensors enable TSOs to optimise the utilisation of their transmission lines. The installation of DLR sensors is intended for four countries, and the Croatian TSO HOPS was the first to install such devices on the 220kV Senj-Melina transmission line a month ago. Since then, the sensors have been operating smoothly and the HOPS team of experts is pleased to have taken the first step towards the ambitious FARCROSS goals.

As part of the FARCROSS project, HOPS has installed monitoring sensors on the Senj-Melina overhead line to improve capacity utilisation (illustration using pictures by HOPS and FARCROSS H2020)

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> See HOPS press release, in Croatian (html)
> Visit FARCROSS website (html)

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More power for the digital hub Frankfurt Rhine-Main

24.08.2020

The world’s largest and best-known data centres are mostly situated in the United States, but compared to its size, Germany is a significant IT location as well. And no other German location is as important for the Internet as the Hessian metropolis of Frankfurt. Germany’s digital hub is one of the largest Internet nodes in the world, resulting in enormous energy requirements that are constantly rising. Consequently, the government of the federal state of Hesse wants to increase the locally available electricity capacity by around 50% within seven years, which poses considerable challenges for the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT, whose control area includes Hesse.

Together with the two regional distribution system operators (DSOs) Avacon and Mainova, the TSCNET shareholder will thus expand transmission lines and substations at the major feed-in points. The grid operators will jointly invest around €750m in a sustainable energy supply for the economic and financial centre that is the Rhine-Main metropolitan region. Tim Meyerjürgens, COO of TenneT, comments on the ambitious plans: “By expanding and modernising the electricity infrastructure in the Rhine-Main area, we are securing the electricity supply and laying the foundation for the further sustainable development of this central economic and financial hub in Germany and Europe.”

Together with two regional DSOs, TenneT is investing €750m in grid expansion measures in the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region (picture: TenneT; from left to right: Marten Bunnemann, CEO Avacon; Tarek Al-Wazir, Hessian Minister of Economics, Energy, Transport and Housing; Dr. Constantin Alsheimer, CEO Mainova; Tim Meyerjürgens)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Amprion: “Smart Valve” for flexible power flow control

05.08.2020

To maintain the stability of the transmission grid despite the current increase in decentralised and volatile generation, the German transmission system operator (TSO) Amprion – like many other TSCNET shareholders – is already using a wide range of innovative technologies, for instance Phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) or reactive power compensation systems such as Statcom. A promising pilot project has now additionally been launched, for which Amprion has signed a cooperation agreement with the US Silicon Valley company, Smart Wires. In the three-phase project, the mobile modular static-synchronous series compensator (mSSSC) developed by Smart Wires, the so called SmartValve, will be deployed in the Amprion grid.

The aim of the project is both to increase the transmission capacity of Amprion’s transmission grid and to maintain its high level of system stability. SmartValve is designed for a more balanced and thus more efficient use of power lines. By actively changing the power flows, it enables better control of the transmission system and minimises redispatch. Due to its modular structure, SmartValve is easy to transport and can be operated flexibly at different locations. This distinguishes the new technology from conventional PSTs, for example, making it an ideal complement to support the system from a stability perspective.

Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, refers in this context to the significantly increased costs for redispatch in Germany in recent years due to the changes in the energy landscape. This is where the SmartValve project comes in: “We see this innovative technology as having the potential to allow us to use the network more efficiently and reduce the need for redispatch.” The two partners expect the project to span two to three years to verify the added value of the new technology in the Amprion grid.

Amprion and Smart Wires launched a pilot project to implement the SmartValve solution in the transmission grid (picture: Smart Wires)

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> See Amprion press release (html)

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Southeast RSC established in Thessaloniki

28.07.2020

The four transmission system operators (TSOs) of the South-East Europe and Greece-Italy Capacity Calculation Regions (CCRs) – which are ESO-EAD (Bulgaria), IPTO (Greece), Terna (Italy), and TSCNET shareholder Transelectrica, the TSO from Romania – have established the sixth European Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. The new RSC goes by the name of Southeast Electricity Network Coordination Centre (SEleNe CC). Each TSO participates equally in the share capital of the new company.

SEleNe CC provides all regional RSC services for both CCRs according to the requirements of the EU guideline on capacity allocation and congestion management (CACM). The main tasks of SEleNe CC – just as with Baltic RSC, Coreso, Nordic RSC, SCC, and the Munich based RSC TSCNET Services – are: coordinated security analysis, outage planning coordination, coordinated capacity calculation, (very) short-term adequacy forecasts, individual and common grid modelling, and data set delivery. The Board of Directors of SEleNe CC consists of one member from each TSO with Ioannis Kampouris from the Greek TSO IPTO as Chairman and CEO.

Catalin Nitu, CEO of Transelectrica, comments on the establishment of SEleNe CC: „Improving energy security and cooperation at both organisational and technical level brings us one step closer to an energy-integrated Europe. This step is part of a normal and necessary evolution for regional energy security, in the light of the implementation of the common electricity market’s new model. I express my gratitude to our colleagues and partners who have consistently shown professional excellence and commitment to establish this security centre.”

The four TSOs from the South-East Europe and Greece-Italy CCRs have established SEleNe CC, the new RSC based in Thessaloniki (picture of Thessaloniki: Digio Lab on Unsplash)

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> See Transelectrica press release (pdf, 482kb)
> See Transelectrica press release, in Romanian (pdf, 238.1kb)

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Swissgrid analyses supply disruption in Valais

22.07.2020

On Friday, 17 July, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) Swissgrid carried out check-operations concerning the extension of the 220kV switchgear in the Chippis substation in the canton of Valais. At 4.23 p.m., the protection equipment of the 220kV grid node Creux de Chippis was accidentally tripped, causing the switchgear to lose voltage. As a result of the technical failure at Chippis, the switchgear of the substations in Stalden, Bitsch, and Mörel were also affected by the voltage drop, which led to a regional supply interruption in the distribution system.

The result was a one-hour power outage in a total of 60 municipalities with around 112,000 households as well as trade and industry in the Swiss Sierre district and the largest part of the Upper Valais. By 5.23 p.m., all affected switchgear and lines of the TSCNET shareholder were back in regular operation. Thanks to the good cooperation between Swissgrid and the five affected distribution system operators (DSOs) of the lower voltage levels, it was possible to gradually restore the electricity supply from 5 pm onwards. By 6.15p.m. almost all customers were back on power. Swissgrid immediately initiated a detailed investigation of the incident, which is currently in progress.

Swissgrid is investigating the voltage loss in the switchgear of the Chippis substation in Valais on 17 July (picture: Swissgrid)

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> See Swissgrid news release, in German (html)

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