NEDO Project meetings in Tokyo

24.04.2019

A three-year Slovenian-Japanese smart grid project was launched in November 2016. The main partners are the Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO), its authorised contractor Hitachi, the multinational conglomerate, and TSCNET shareholder ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO). In addition to ELES, numerous Slovenian stakeholders also contribute to the NEDO Project, the aim of which is to implement a smart grid at national level. For the power system, the benefits lie in innovative solutions that reduce the need for grid extension, as the use of advanced secondary equipment, information, communication and cloud technologies allows better utilisation of the existing grid.

Last week, two NEDO Project meetings took place in the Japanese capital Tokyo. On 17 April, Gorazd Ažman, Assistant Director of the Strategic Innovation Department at ELES, and a representative of Hitachi informed the members of the NEDO Project Steering Committee and the Advisory Board about the current project activities in the Hitachi premises. The next day, a second meeting followed, this time at the NEDO headquarters with high representatives of the Japanese Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, ELES, NEDO and Hitachi.

ELES and Hitachi held two NEDO Project Meetings in Tokyo (collage using a picture of Eles and a picture of Hitachi Headquarters in Chiyoda, Tokyo, by Kakidai, Creative Commons, Wikimedia)

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BioEnergyTrain reaches its final station

11.04.2019

Concerning its engagement in projects with pan-European value, the Slovenian TSCNET shareholder ELES plays a very committed role as a national transmission system operator (TSO) with international ambitions. Among the European projects in which ELES is involved are FutureFlow for innovative e-trading solutions, MIGRATE for linking generation and consumption via power electronics, DEFENDER for the protection of critical energy infrastructures or the smart grid project SINCRO.GRID.

The first project participation of ELES under the EU Horizon 2020 programme is the BioEnergyTrain (BET). The members of the BET consortium – fifteen partners from six EU countries – recognise the high importance of bioenergy for the low-carbon future and therefore want to tackle the lack of qualified personnel, of coordination between stakeholders and the poor coherence between professional training and industrial needs. They address these issues by creating new postgraduate curricula in key bioenergy disciplines and a network of educational and research institutions, professional associations and industry stakeholders from the entire bioenergy value chain.

In BET, ELES took on the role of head of regional awareness raising, thus successfully finishing the first Horizon 2020 project proposal as the whole project has now been completed after four years of developing innovative educational materials. The main outcome are two new Master programmes at the Graz University of Technology in Austria and at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. The final BET conference took place in Brussels, Belgium on 9 April.

The BioEnergyTrain project for higher education in bioenergy has successfully been concluded (picture: edited screenshot taken from video “BioEnergyTrain – 2 New EU Masters in Bioeconomy”, eseia Team / YouTube)

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DA/RE enters pilot phase

02.04.2019

Following its launch in June 2018, the Baden-Württemberg grid security initiative “DA/RE” (“DAta exchange/REdispatch”) has entered the pilot phase on 1 April. The DA/RE initiators are TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the German transmission system operator (TSO) from the state of Baden-Württemberg, and the southwest German distribution system operator (DSO) Netze BW with the support of the State Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector. Meanwhile, several grid and facility operators are involved and actively participating in the pilot phase.

DA/RE responds to the increasing volatility and decentralisation of power generation. By utilising the flexibility potential of decentralised plants from lower grid levels, the entire electricity system is intended to be stabilised. Basically, DA/RE is an IT platform, through which grid operators can obtain information on flexibility potentials and coordinatedly retrieve them. In the trial phase, scheduled to last until the end of September 2019, two essential modules for data exchange and coordination between grid and facility operators are to be tested.

With its wide range of decentralised systems, DA/RE adequately represents the current market for flexibility. “Together we can thus test the processes with different DSOs up to medium voltage level and provide the further course of the project with valuable experience,” explains Florian Gutekunst, DA/RE project manager at TransnetBW.

The DA/RE initiative for grid security initiated by TransnetBW is entering the pilot phase

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PtG pilot plants on an industrial scale

29.03.2019

Power-to-Gas (PtG) technologies have the potential to compensate for the weather-related volatility of renewable energies. More specifically, PtG can be used to convert sustainable electricity into gas (green hydrogen or methane), so that the gas infrastructure is additionally available for the transport and storage of electricity from renewable sources. The TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, are taking the next important step towards implementing the two most powerful sector coupling projects currently underway in Germany: “hybridge” and “ELEMENT ONE”.

The respective gas transmission partners of Amprion and TenneT are Open Grid Europe for the “hybridge” project and Gasunie and Thyssengas for ELEMENT ONE. Both PTG plants are to convert up to 100MW of electrical power into gas. Their construction is planned at two different sites in the German federal state of Lower Saxony, each close to wind power generation centres and well-developed gas infrastructure.

The grid operators have submitted the necessary investment applications for both projects on 29 March to the Bundesnetzagentur (German Federal Network Agency). If the Agency gives the green light, ELEMENT ONE will be gradually operational by 2022 and hybridge will be fully functional by 2023. Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, comments on the application, that major PtG projects must now be pushed forward, “if we want to use PtG technology on a large scale in Germany in the 2030s”.

Amprion and TenneT have submitted investment applications for their respective PtG pilot plants hybridge and ELEMENT ONE (picture: Open Grid Europe GmbH)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Visit hybridge website, in German (html)
> Visit ELEMENT ONE website, in German (html)

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First capacity offers on WindNODE platform

17.03.2019

Today’s energy market, with its ever-increasing share of volatile quantities of electricity from renewable sources, demands optimum capacity utilisation and systematic use of flexibility – already now and even more so in the future. To be well prepared for the challenges ahead, more than 70 partners from all over eastern Germany are working on the WindNODE project, including TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the German transmission system operator (TSO) responsible for the region. A core component of WindNODE is the flexibility platform, through which regional producers, consumers, and storage operators offer TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs) flexible use of their facilities. This is intended to reduce the throttling of wind turbines in the event of grid bottlenecks.

The WindNODE flexibility platform has been in trial operation since November 2018. On 14 March 2019, capacities were offered and called up for the first time. “This means that the trial operation is now entering the practical phase and we can demonstrate that the integration of numerous producers, storage facilities and consumers in one market environment leads to less throttling of renewables – especially now in a very windy season,” explains Georg Meyer-Braune, project manager WindNODE at 50Hertz. The test phase of the platform will last until summer 2019 and processes will be gradually established at further partners, who will thus become potential suppliers. The platform will then be in continuous operation until the end of the project term in 2020. The aim is to use the dedicated facilities for congestion management also after the completion of the WindNODE project.

The first capacities have been offered and called up on the WindNODE flexibility platform (illustration using a screenshot taken from video “Die WindNODE-Flexibilitätsplattform erklärt”, 50Hertz – YouTube)

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Hybridge to couple energy sectors

11.02.2019

Last summer, TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) for electricity, and Open Grid Europe (OGE), German TSO for natural gas, announced a collaboration in the field of sector coupling by means of power to gas (PtG) facilities. PtG technologies offer promising perspectives for a low-carbon energy future. Now the two partners are ready to launch the sector coupling at system level in Germany with the project “hybridge” comprising an electrolyser in the 100MW class and a hydrogen infrastructure.

At a joint press conference on 11 February in the German capital of Berlin, the current status of hybridge and further steps were presented. Since the partners, who estimate the costs for the entire project at €150m, are ready to enter the approval phase, Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, explained that the regulatory framework must now be set up quickly. The more so, as it is crucial for the German climate targets that PtG is available in the GW range from 2030. “The ball is in the court of politics. If the course is set now, the plant can already go into operation in 2023,” commented Dr. Kleinekorte.

The ideal location for the first PtG plant in the projected size, in which electricity from renewable energies is converted into green hydrogen and partly further into green methane via an electrolyser, was found at an intersection between the Amprion and OGE grids in the district of Emsland in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony. The regional natural gas storage facilities, which can be converted to hydrogen in the future, also contribute to optimal conditions for the development of a hydrogen grid to complement the 100MW electrolyser. Amprion and OGE intend to further develop an existing OGE pipeline for the exclusive transport of hydrogen. The concept of Amprion and OGE for sector coupling at system level also includes non-discriminatory third-party access for all market participants to the planned grid coupling infrastructure.

Amprion and the gas-TSO Open Grid Europe are ready to launch their joint sector coupling project “hybridge” (picture: Amprion; from left to right: Dr. Thomas Hüwener, Member of the OGE Management Board, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion)

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TSO-DSO platform for congestion management

30.01.2019

Grid operators in the Netherlands and throughout Europe are working intensively on expanding grid capacity, which is urgently needed in the wake of energy transition and economic growth. However, this cannot be achieved in the short term, but the use of flexible electricity from the market can help to avoid anticipated grid congestions. GOPACS (“Grid Operators Platform for Congestion Solutions”) is the name of a new technological tool developed in the Netherlands for this purpose. It is the result of a unique, active collaboration between four Dutch distribution system operators (DSOs) and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO).

GOPACS is not a market platform in its own right but uses orders on existing market platforms. And this is how it works: If congestion is foreseeable at some part of the grid, operators would like to see, for example, a reduction in production or an increase in consumption. Via GOPACS, an invitation to tender is sent to market participants concerned, who place an appropriate purchase order on a connected market platform. To avoid negative impacts on the balance of the national grid, the reduction of generation in the congestion area is combined with a contrary order from a market party outside this area. The price difference between the two orders is covered by the operators, the two orders are matched, and congestion is resolved.

The Dutch grid operators are currently looking for market players who want to participate and use their flexibility productively. Participation in GOPACS is interesting for any market party with the possibility to influence electricity consumption or generation and to provide this flexibility for trading.

Together with Dutch DSOs, TenneT has launched GOPACS, a smart platform for market players to solve grid congestions

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Successful tests for the HeatFlex project

15.01.2019

Volatile and decentralised energy generation is an essential characteristic of the energy future. What is at first an evident risk to grid stability, could also prove to be an opportunity for smart and flexible grid management, since small and decentralised consumption devices, if actively involved, could even help to stabilise the grid. In order to explore this potential, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and the southern German distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk Netz GmbH have launched HeatFlex last summer, a research project to increase the flexibility and stability of the entire transmission system.

TenneT and Bayernwerk jointly investigate how decentralised devices can be involved most effectively. The power users that HeatFlex is concerned with are, for example, electric storage heaters, heat pumps, water heaters and potentially also electric vehicles in the Bayernwerk area. They can be controlled by the DSO using ripple control. If a bottleneck in the transmission grid is to be expected, for instance due to a lot of wind power, decentralised consumption devices are used for grid control: At TenneT’s request, they will be triggered by Bayernwerk and then cease consuming too much electricity but instead supply the grid with the necessary electricity for stabilisation.

There are over 170,000 decentralised controllable devices with a total capacity of around 200MW in the Bayernwerk distribution area. A first test in summer already proved the technical feasibility of HeatFlex in cases of real bottleneck situations. It turned out that the communication between the control centres of both operators worked quickly and efficiently. “With this project, we are testing solutions for tomorrow already today. HeatFlex is one of the pilot projects with which we are investigating which decentralised flexibilities we can use in the future to stabilise the grid. These include, for example, projects with power-to-gas, with bidirectionally chargeable electric vehicles or with home storage and blockchain technology,” explains TenneT Managing Director Wilfried Breuer.

HeatFlex, the joint research project of TenneT and Bayernwerk on flexible grid control, is making progress (picture: Bayernwerk AG)

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Satellite technology for grid optimisation

30.11.2018

Power lines run above and below the ground or also under the sea – hence, the business of the European transmission and distribution system operators (TSOs and DSOs) tends to be ground-based. Sometimes, however, a glimpse into the sky might inspire us to find new approaches to make the European power system even more efficient and reliable in the future.

This is perhaps how representatives of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) and the European Distribution System Operators Association (EDSO) have come to the question of how satellite applications can support the European power grid and its evolution. Anyway, together with the European Space Agency (ESA) the two operator organisations have entered on 29 November into a cooperation on the deployment of satellite technology for grid optimisation.

The cooperation will be implemented through ESA’s Business Applications programme, designed to support the development of new services using data from space assets. Satellite applications can support power grids in many areas, e.g. facilities management, two-way communication between smart meters and operators, prediction of consumption or generation peaks, development of Internet-of-Things related services, or the use of virtual power plants.

Nick Appleyard, Head of ESA’s Business Applications Department, highlights the potential of satellite communication for the allocation of renewable energy generation volumes and grid balancing. Laurent Schmitt, Secretary General of ENTSO-E, agrees and sees “opportunities to enhance real-time grid management through using available space technologies”. Mr Schmitt concludes: “This cooperation will identify business cases where both sectors can support each other and deliver benefits for the European consumer.”

ENTSO-E, EDSO and ESA enter into cooperation on the deployment of satellite technology for grid optimisation (picture: ESA)

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WindNODE flexibility platform in trial operation

21.11.2018

The energy transition results in a rapidly growing share of volatile electricity volumes from renewable energy generation. The participants in the energy market are thus faced with new and challenging tasks that go beyond the mere safe operation of electricity grids. Optimum capacity utilisation and maximum use of renewable, weather-dependent energy instead of the throttling of sustainable plants are key requirements of today’s market. The TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), meets the new challenges through the systematic use of flexibility.

A single example from 2017 shows the extent of today’s throttling measures: 641GWh of renewable power generation were throttled in the 50Hertz control area for grid stability reasons. In order to use otherwise lost energy, more than 70 partners from all over East Germany are working on the WindNODE project promoted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. A central component of the project is the flexibility platform, a digital procurement system that is designed to reduce the throttling of wind turbines in the event of grid bottlenecks. Via the platform, regional generators, consumers and storage operators offer TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs) flexible use of their facilities. TSOs and DSOs cooperate closely in the project.

The flexibility platform has now gone into test operation after almost two years of developing. The intention is to balance the load distribution of volatile generation quantities and to integrate them optimally into the system. By connecting or disconnecting flexible loads – for example industrial production facilities – the power consumption at appropriate grid nodes is regulated in such a way that bottlenecks and thus the throttling of wind energy are prevented and maximum use of green electricity is facilitated.

Dr. Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, emphasises the importance of both, more efficient use of the existing grid and grid extension, to achieve the German government’s renewable share targets. “We need to get into Power-to-X applications and the systematic use of flexibility. This is why the WindNODE platform comes at the right time and can help to effectively use regeneratively generated ‘excess electricity’ instead of throttling it.”

The WindNODE flexibility platform for effective use of renewable energy and congestion management in east Germany has been put into trial operation

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