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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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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Smart control of heat pumps – HeatFlex expands

08.07.2020

Launched in the summer of 2018, the HeatFlex research project aims to exploit the potential for grid stabilisation that small and decentralised consumer devices can offer – if actively involved in the stabilising process. The founding project members are TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and the southern German distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk Netz. Following the successful cooperation and positive test results, TenneT and Bayernwerk Netz are now expanding the project. The grid operators are pleased to welcome three new project partners: the DSO Regensburg Netz as well as the public utilities Stadtwerk Haßfurt and SWW Wunsiedel.

With HeatFlex, TenneT and Bayernwerk are jointly researching the most effective integration of decentralised devices – such as electric storage heaters, heat pumps, and water heaters – into grid balancing. These flexible capacities are intended to avoid cost-intensive interventions by the TSO in the case of future grid bottlenecks. Since November 2019, the project partners have already been implementing the first concrete measures based on HeatFlex results: The heat pumps and direct heating systems connected to Bayernwerk Netz are being intelligently controlled for bottleneck prevention. Decentralised heating systems are thus partially taking over the stabilising function of fossil plants. Using ripple control technology already in place, no additional investments are required.

The increase in partners should serve to make intelligent use of even more local flexibility and to investigate further controllable, decentralised consumption units and alternative applications. The ultimate aims of HeatFlex are cost savings, reduction of grid extension, and the acceleration of the energy transition without jeopardising system security. “The intelligent control of the smallest, decentralised electricity consumption units is a small but essential element,” explains TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens, “because the many pieces of the puzzle together make up the overall picture of the energy transition”.

The research project HeatFlex is extended with three additional partners (picture: Stiebel Eltron)

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Successful start of FCR auctions

01.07.2020

The cooperation on regional procurement and exchange of frequency containment reserve (FCR) is a voluntary initiative of eight transmission system operators (TSOs): the six TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, and TransnetBW from Germany, APG from Austria, Swissgrid from Switzerland, and the Dutch-German TSO TenneT, as well as Elia from Belgium and the French TSO RTE. The FCR project is the first regional cooperation for a common market based on the methodology for the exchange of control reserves set out in the EU Guideline on Electricity Balancing. Within the scope of a cooperation model with Amprion, the Luxembourg TSCNET customer Creos is also involved.

The next milestone in the development of the largest European market for primary balancing power reserve has now been reached, as the first D-1 auction for FCR with 4-hour products was successfully conducted on 30 June 2020. This means, the FCR cooperation reduces the product length from one day to four hours and thus the market for primary balancing power is brought closer to real time.

Due to stronger competition between service providers and technologies, the joint auction allows TSOs to procure FCRs at minimum cost to end-users while offering a large common market for all providers of balancing services. It also increases the market attractiveness for short-term flexibility, limits price volatility and improves the security of grid operation by executing cross zonal procurement of FCR. The FCR market, already the largest in Europe, will be extended to western Denmark and Slovenia in the first quarter of 2021, so that with Energinet and ELES two further TSCNET shareholders will broaden the project.

The FCR cooperation successfully conducted the first D-1 auction for FCR with 4-hour products 

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Redispatch harmonisation in Germany

26.06.2020

Up until now, redispatch measures between the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) – 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW – and the operators of power plants and storage facilities with a capacity of more than 10MW have been carried out on the basis of IT tools specific to the particular TSO control area. In order to align the individual procedures nationwide, the four TSCNET shareholders on 26 June successfully put the first component of their joint redispatch platform into operation, the “Redispatch Settlement Server” (“Redispatch-Abwicklungsserver” – RAS).

The German electricity market is increasingly characterised by volatile generation and RAS is an instrument to initiate redispatch measures both faster and more flexibly. With harmonised data formats and processes, the redispatch platform, of which the RAS is the first part, provides the basis for the integration of renewable energies into the existing redispatch processes, that is, for future-proof congestion management. In concrete terms, RAS allows TSO control centres to monitor and process all relevant power plant interventions. As a result, TSOs can coordinate their redispatch decisions and activities more efficiently. Moreover, the central management introduces frictionless settlement and transparency processes.

The second part of the redispatch platform is the “Redispatch Determination Server” (“Redispatch-Ermittlungsserver” – RES). RES will complement or replace existing forecasting tools for expectable grid situations such as imminent bottlenecks. It will identify those options for action that are compliant with the regulations and most cost-efficient. Based on RES calculations, TSOs can resolve both predicted and existing grid congestions more efficiently than today. RES is scheduled to go into operation in 2021.

The four German TSOs have succesfully launched RAS, a joint server for redispatch settlement

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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Eurobar for offshore integration

24.06.2020

Those involved in European electricity transmission have clearly understood that the common climate targets up to 2050 call for suitable and forward-looking concepts already today. Although the control area of TSCNET shareholder Amprion is not directly bordering a seashore, the German transmission system operator (TSO) shares nonetheless responsibility for transporting green electricity generated offshore to the consumption centres. Amprion thinks in a pan-European dimension and has developed a concept to integrate offshore electricity into the European power grid in a way that makes an optimal contribution to the European climate goals: The European Offshore Busbar (Eurobar) responds to the fact that the North Sea countries alone want to exploit an offshore potential of around 200GW by 2050.

The concept provides for the new generation of offshore facilities in the North Sea to be designed for connection to an offshore grid already during the early planning stage. Later, they can be gradually interconnected – first at national level and then between the North Sea countries. Through this integration, wind power can be transported flexibly and across borders to where it is needed, thus increasing efficiency and reducing costs as well as the need for additional grid expansion onshore. Dr Hans-Jürgen Brick, CEO of Amprion, emphasises the key role of the trans-European integration of offshore wind power for the future climate-neutral energy system: “Eurobar aims to make a constructive contribution to European plans for offshore development.”

Amprion has benefited from the advantages of an integrated power system for many decades and now, with Eurobar, intends to transfer this integration concept to the offshore grid to create an overall system for onshore and offshore energy. “Eurobar will intensify European collaboration in offshore development,” believes Dr Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion. Peter Rüth, the CFO of the TSO, adds: “Eurobar is designed as a partnership.” Consequently, the implementation can be carried out by the respective partners, be it states or grid operators, autonomously. The only condition is, that the technical standards yet to be developed are applied when installing future offshore systems. “We will now be working together with our partners in industry and among network operators on resolving the technical issues and advocating standardisation on a European level,” concludes Rüth.

Amprion has presented the Eurobar concept for integrating European offshore systems (picture: Amprion)

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ENTSO-E pays tribute to the work done for IT tools

21.06.2020

As already reported in our news blog, the pan-European IT tools for Outage Planning Coordination (OPC) and Short-Term Adequacy (STA) are operational since the end of March and the end of May 2020, respectively. OPC and STA are services provided by Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) and transmission system operators (TSOs) to increase the operational security of Europe’s power system. The OPC tool allows all five European RSCs and 38 TSOs to coordinate outage planning on a weekly basis, while the STA tool provides them with daily calculations based on generation and demand forecasts of all ENTSO-E member TSOs. These calculations help to identify possible adequacy deficiencies for the coming week.

The tools that now work are based on prototypes developed by the two major European RSCs out of the five. The pilot of the OPC tool was created by TSCNET Services in Munich, Germany, while the STA tool is based on a prototype of CORESO, based in Brussels. Both tools run on the ENTSO-E Communication and Connectivity Service Platform (ECCoSP) and demonstrate the continuing commitment and efforts of the entire TSO community: TSOs, RSCs, and ENTSO-E.

Tahir Kapetanovic, Head of the Control Centre of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, and Chairman of the ENTSO-E System Operation Committee, considers cross-border coordination and intensive cooperation to be essential for the smooth functioning of the European power system. “Jointly developed pan-European IT tools such as the OPC and STA tools, allow uniform norms and standards for network operation to be put into practice.”

ENTSO-E appreciates the cooperation between RSCs and TSOs in the development of the pan-European IT tools for OPC and STA

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> Watch ENTSO-E video on the OPC tool (YouTube)
> Watch ENTSO-E video on the STA tool (YouTube)

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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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New IT tools for Europe-wide supply security

08.06.2020

The digitisation of grid operation is constantly increasing and requires continuous optimisation, e.g. in terms of outage planning coordination and adequacy analysis – both aspects are integral parts of the Annual Work Programme 2020 of the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E). Two new IT tools to simplify the cooperation of transmission system operators (TSOs) and allow better anticipation of the balance between supply and demand are available since this spring and currently used by a total of 38 TSOs. Under the coordination of ENTSO-E, the “Outage Planning Coordination (OPC) Pan European Merge Tool” and “Short Term Adequacy forecast (STA) tool” have been developed jointly with the Munich based Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) TSCNET Services playing a leading role in the development of OPC.

Tahir Kapetanovic, Head of the Control Centre of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, and Chairman of the ENTSO-E System Operation Committee, comments on the latest success: “The cross-border coordination and intensive cooperation of all national TSOs are the preconditions for a smooth functioning of the power supply across the European Union. By means of such jointly developed tools, uniform norms and standards for network operation can truly be implemented into practice.”

The launching of both tools may be considered as further evidence of the well-established pan-European cooperation of European TSOs and RSCs. STA enables a short to medium-term prognosis for load management, which is particularly important in view of the energy transition to compensate for the volatility of renewable power generation with innovative solutions and to integrate them smartly into the system. With the OPC Pan European Merge Tool, concept originally developed by TSCNET Services, the TSOs and RSCs can plan power outages on a regional level, including coordination of maintenance and inspections. Electricity supply and trade are thus ensured despite the necessary shutdowns.

The need for OPC on a pan-European level across the different RSCs and the corresponding concept of a harmonised outage planning process dates back to 2012, when the TSOs of the central and eastern European regions established the TSC (TSO Security Cooperation) area. The Medium-Long-Term Operational Planning (MLTOP) project of the TSC TSOs, which was started at that time, is the origin of the OPC tool. When TSCNET Services emerged in 2015 from the joint TSC TSO office in Munich, the MLTOP project was carried on by TSCNET for prototype and business process development in coordination with the TSC TSOs. In the same year, ENTSO-E launched the TSO Project for Coordination Strategy Implementation with the Regional Security Coordination Initiatives (RSCIs), which was continued later under the EU System Operation Guideline (SO GL). This extended the scope of the MLTOP project from the TSC area to the whole of Europe and it became the foundation of the OPC project.

In December 2017, the prototype resulting from the OPC project, owned and developed by TSCNET, went live on a pan-European scale and provided the initial service to all TSOs and RSCs in Europe. Now the prototype tool has been converted into and replaced by a fully-fledged industrial tool: the OPC Pan European Merge Tool, whose development represents a unique success story for TSCNET services and the associated TSOs. What was once an idea for cooperation in the TSC area has been further developed and prototyped by TSCNET in close cooperation with the TSOs and has now evolved into an industrialised pan-European tool used by the outage planners of 38 TSOs and four other RSCs.

TSCNET Services as a major contributor
The OPC project and its development process is a good example of what can be achieved through intensive cooperation between TSOs and RSCs. TSCNET successfully took the lead in this cooperative effort and managed not only to develop services on a pan-European level, but also to successfully coordinate with other stakeholders (RSCs, TSOs and ENTSO-E) and convince them to be part of the success. The development of the OPC project fits perfectly with the narrative of the definition of TSO, RSC and European coordination: The RSCs provide services to TSOs by setting up business processes and tools with their unique regional and technical expertise, thereby combining the knowledge of the individual TSOs – and if the concept has proven to work, they scale it up for the rest of Europe and centralise the infrastructure if necessary (and requested by ENTSO-E).

TSCNET is indebted to its Service Analytics & Quality Manager and responsible OPC Project Convener, Jayaram Anandha, to Sonja Tomić, Junior Operations Manager, and Jorge Alves, Operations Manager, for their input in the development of this highly efficient tool. The predecessor as OPC Project Convener, Tin Bobetko, and Michalis Stamoulis jointly led the business and data standard development of the OPC prototype tool, which was running perfectly until the industrialised version went live.

Two new IT tools for TSO cooperation, one of which developed by TSCNET, have been introduced and improve European supply security 

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