Amprion Market Report shows encouraging trends

27.05.2020

The intermeshed European electricity market today requires constructive cooperation between all actors and organisations. Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), considers the efficiency of cooperation at European level a key prerequisite for continental security of supply and the success of the energy transition. For this reason, the TSCNET shareholder was and is involved in numerous regional and European initiatives on system operation, network planning, and market integration. Also, Amprion is an observant analyser of the European market development, especially in the Central Western Europe (CWE) region and annually provides the Market Report for the CWE countries. The 2020 edition for the period 2015 to 2019 has just been released.

The Market Report is based on data from Flow-Based Market Coupling (FBMC) introduced by the six CWE countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium) in May 2015. By involving the entire regional network in the coupling of electricity markets, FBMC allows TSOs to allocate cross-border capacity and maximise market efficiency without jeopardising grid stability. The Amprion report clearly indicates the progress of the CWE market integration, especially with the following figures: In 2019, price convergence on the day-ahead markets increased by a further 10%, reaching 42%. In other words, in almost every second hour, day-ahead prices in the CWE have been equal because the TSOs succeeded in making sufficient power transmission capacity available to meet the demand of the entire region at the same prices.

Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, CEO of Amprion, comments on the positive development: “The Market Report furnishes proof that trade barriers could be decreased during the course of 2019.” Dr Brick places particular emphasis on the efficient and highly interconnected power grids in the CWE region and their “key role in ensuring Europe’s stable and secure energy system”. As regards Amprion’s individual contribution, the TSO was able to further improve the efficiency of its grid and thus strengthen European electricity trading. Whereas in 2018 the share of all active trade constraints caused by Amprion internal elements was 13.7%, in 2019 it was only 7.8%. This is due not only to the ongoing grid expansion measures, but also to the monitoring of overhead lines, which allows more efficient utilisation of the most important power lines.

Amprion has published the Market Report 2020 for the CWE region (picture: Daniel Schumann / Amprion)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> Open Amprion market report (pdf, 6.97MB)
> Open Amprion market report summary, in German (pdf, 524.8kB)

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Nordic Power Solutions Report

29.04.2020

The Nordic transmission system operator (TSOs) of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Danish TSCNET customer Energinet have updated their 2018 report “Solutions for a changing Nordic power system”. The Solutions Report 2020 provides an overview of the joint Nordic TSO projects that have been identified as crucial to address the challenges in the Nordic energy system.

As in the rest of Europe, the Nordic power system is undergoing the most significant changes since the liberalisation of the electricity markets, and here, too, these changes are mainly based on a new power generation mix with volatile generation and distributed resources. The Power Solutions Report 2020 draws a common picture of the progress of the new solutions in the Nordic power system that respond to these changes. In addition to reporting on the projects, the report also features comments from stakeholders on the tasks and the challenges they still see in the Nordic power grid.

Energinet and the other Nordic TSOs have published their joint Nordic Power Solutions Report 2020 (picture: Bo Kamstrup, Pixabay)

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> See Energinet press release (html)
> Open Nordic Power Solutions Report (pdf, 10.62MB)

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Launch of the Equigy balancing platform

25.04.2020

To ensure the stability of the grid frequency, transmission system operators (TSOs) all over Europe respond to the increasingly volatile generation of energy from renewable sources and to the loss of reactive power from large power plants. The challenge of keeping production and consumption in balance does not stop at national borders, for which reason the TSCNET shareholders Swissgrid, the TSO from Switzerland, and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, are cooperating with the Italian TSO Terna in the crowd balancing platform Equigy. The platform is based on blockchain technology and the internet of things. It is conceived as digital link between the so-called TSO ancillary service markets and the market players that deliver balancing services. TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish TSO, has formally expressed its intention to join the consortium, which would extend Equigy’s roll-out to Denmark.

With their cross-border cooperation, the consortium of Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna wants to set a new electricity-balancing standard, improve the integration of renewables, and provide more flexibility to reduce the renewables’ random impact on the grid. As with previous, regionally limited balancing projects, Equigy aims to unlock flexibility by actively involving small and distributed consumer-based generation and consumption units in grid stabilisation. This involvement enables owners of small-scale assets to play a key role in the transformation of the energy sector by optimising their interaction with the grid. Since Equigy processes multiple small transactions, it requires a secure and scalable solution that ensures trust and transparency between all parties involved. The common vision of the participating TSOs is clear: Millions of households will stabilise the electricity grid in the future.

Open and free of charge
Equigy is based on block chain technology to execute transactions from millions of individual systems securely, cost-effectively, and transparently. This creates a single, immutable, and secure data source from which all parties can benefit. Precise rules and regulations allow consumers, businesses, and manufacturers to easily market the flexible capacity of electric vehicles, household batteries, and heat pumps in all participating countries, regardless of location, thereby simplifying access to the electricity market. At the same time, all local or regional flexibility platforms can be connected to the Equigy platform so that as much flexibility as possible can be bundled. This means: Equigy is not exclusive and can be integrated into existing grid stabilisation processes. The technology and software are open-source and provided free of charge to promote the development of secondary applications in the energy value chain. Equigy has now been successfully launched, and the pilot project to test the technology will run until the end of 2020.

In Switzerland, the project has attracted a lot of interest. Numerous partners have expressed an interest in participating. Yves Zumwald, CEO of Swissgrid, comments: “We are proud to be a founding partner of Equigy. It’s only natural that this ambitious initiative is being driven by TSOs. We are not subject to commercial constraints and are able to operate the new platform adopting a neutral position.” Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, can also be pleased to have various Equigy partners in Germany and the Netherlands. She emphasises the European dimension of the project: “Equigy originated from European cooperation. In a common European market, we will have to develop solutions together. We already have the same sockets. It would be a shame and unnecessarily expensive to develop different systems.”

Expansion to the north
The Danish TSO Energinet recognises the potential of Equigy and is highly interested in participating. The consortium behind Equigy appreciates this interest. Swissgrid, TenneT, Terna, and Energinet have thus signed a Letter of Intent in which the parties confirm their common interest in including Energinet in Equigy. Energinet will now examine the possibilities of becoming part of the cooperation. All partners aim to take a decision on Energinet’s accession before the end of this year. Søren Dupont Kristensen, CEO of Energinet Electricity System Operator, explains: “We are now investigating the potential of this platform in the context of the Danish energy system. Based on our findings, we will decide on joining the collaboration regarding the platform.”

The blockchain based crowd balancing platform Equigy has been launched by Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna

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

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Declaration: “TSOs ensure the lights are kept on”

23.04.2020

“We need to jointly ensure the stability of the electrical system, the service continuity and the operation of our network infrastructures, which represent the real backbone of the interconnected electricity system on a continental scale.” Thus, commences the common statement of the managing directors of numerous European transmission system operators (TSOs) from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. And of course, top staff from TSCNET shareholders are also among the signatories of the declaration, namely Gerhard Christiner (CTO of APG), Klaus Kleinekorte (CTO of Amprion), Manon van Beek (CEO of TennetT), Yves Zumwald (CEO of Swissgrid), and Chris Peeters (CEO of the Elia Group and Chairman of the Board of Directors of 50Hertz).

The CEOs and CTOs emphasise that energy has always been an essential part of European cooperation. Even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is having a huge impact on the lives of the citizens and the worldwide economy. More than ever, electricity remains crucial for daily life, health services and all systemically relevant and critical activities. The main concern of all European TSOs is, obviously, to ensure the general supply of electricity. “Therefore, our highest priority is to keep our staff healthy – especially those who are working in critical positions like the national control centres or indispensable staff for priority preventive maintenance works and urgent damage repairs on our grids.”

The individual TSOs regularly exchange information on their prevention plans and respective measures. These start with hygiene and health protection and end with the preparation of various case scenarios in which the electricity grids would have to be operated with reduced staff. Close cooperation is also established with the respective national authorities to ensure the safe operation of the electricity grids, functioning markets in times of declining electricity demand and, if necessary, priority maintenance work.

However, as responsible and sustainability-oriented companies, the TSOs are already looking ahead to the time after the pandemic and to the green energy landscape of the future. “Keeping the lights on physically is the first step. And with the Green New Deal in mind we are also already actively preparing how to best support the restart of an ever greener economy as soon as possible,” the managers assure. They are certain that the modernisation of electricity systems and the integration of renewable energy sources are an effective growth programme that will safeguard and create jobs: „Keeping the electricity system future proof, supporting the energy transition, the national plans and the European Green New Deal in line with the Paris Agreement is our joint mission and will be a stable growth motor in all our countries in the years to come.”

TSO managers express their commitment to maintaining supply security during the Covid-19 pandemic and their dedication to the green energy future

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> See Swissgrid news release (html)
> See TenneT press release (html)

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European power systems operate smoothly

14.04.2020

Despite the unprecedented circumstances caused by the Corona pandemic – in particular the sharp drop in electricity consumption – electricity transmission throughout Europe is proceeding trouble-free and the transmission system operators (TSOs) maintain grid stability and security of supply. The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has made explicit reference to this, emphasising the commitment of the TSOs, their cooperation among each other and the close coordination with authorities and stakeholders.

ENTSO-E supports its members by facilitating their cooperation and exchange of information. Through ENTSO-E, the TSOs regularly consult with the European authorities on how to keep the grid operational so that all, and especially those most affected by the pandemic, can rely on secure electricity supplies. However, as the impact of the pandemic varies considerably from country to country and as countries are at different stages of the pandemic, TSOs must also make their own individual decisions. TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, for instance, has just decided to successively resume construction work on the maintenance and extension of the national electricity grid.

APG suspended construction site activities on 16 March to protect its employees. But since the projects are crucial to the electricity supply, the TSO has now initiated the successive and structured resumption of construction projects following a complex evaluation of each of the approximately 50 construction sites and intensive consultations with the contractors. All this is being done under the highest standards of hygiene, disinfection and distance keeping, because the safety of the employees is the top priority.

European TSOs maintain security of electricity supply during the Corona crisis throughout Europe

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> See APG news release (html)
> See ENTSO-E press release (html)

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DA/RE project: Redispatch 2.0

09.04.2020

The grid security initiative DA/RE (“DAta exchange/Redispatch”) was launched in summer 2018 by TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, and entered the pilot phase on 1 April 2019. The first retrievals of redispatch capacities were carried out in summer 2019 and now the pilot phase of the Baden-Württemberg grid project has been successfully concluded. Apart from TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, three distribution system operators (DSOs) and four other partners from the fields of virtual power plants, home storage, and energy trading were involved in the DA/RE pilot phase.

Like comparable projects, DA/RE responds to the increasing volatility and decentralisation of electricity generation. In order to stabilise the entire electricity system in the future, DA/RE intends to facilitate the transition from the current redispatch with centralised large-scale power plants to new processes involving the flexibility potential of smaller decentralised generation plants and storage facilities. In the pilot phase, the DA/RE partners have achieved their first project goal: Processes for the coordinated retrieval of redispatch power from the distribution grid over several voltage levels have been developed and successfully tested in practice. The entire process chain from the exchange of planning data via DA/RE internal processes with merit-order based plant selection up to the activation of the physical plant retrieval was tested in three steps. A total of 40 plants of different technologies with rated outputs between 3kW and 30MW were involved.

Key assumptions corroborated
In the pilot phase, the coordinated redispatch retrieval was verified across all voltage levels and the basic functionality of the DA/RE concept was confirmed. With the experience and findings gained from this, the final DA/RE platform is now being developed, for which uniform processes and interfaces to automate the process steps will be defined. This will ensure the scalability and mass suitability of the system and simplify the integration of smaller grid and plant operators.

The two DA/RE project managers, Florian Gutekunst from TransnetBW and Kilian Geschermann from the DSO Netze BW, describe DA/RE as an open project: “We are looking forward to involving further interested parties from the ranks of grid and plant operators as fellow campaigners. We are all facing growing challenges due to the transformation of the generation landscape; together we can find smart solutions and better meet the challenges.”

The pilot phase of the DA/RE project for smart decentralised redispatch solutions has successfully been concluded

Linkup
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> Visit DA/RE website, in German (html)

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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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Kapetanovic: “European TSOs close ranks”

06.04.2020

Just like the Coronavirus (though fortunately without negative consequences), electricity flows do not stop at national borders. Cross-border coordination and intensive cooperation between all national transmission system operators (TSOs) are always the prerequisite for EU-wide security of supply, and all the more so in times of crisis with electricity consumption declining across Europe. According to Tahir Kapetanovic, Head of the Control Centre of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, and also Chairman of the System Operation Committee, the top-level decision board for grid operations at the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E), uniform rules and standards for grid operation are indispensable.

The timely identification of possible threats to the transmission system is also considered to be crucial for the security of electricity supply in Europe. In this context, Mr Kapetanovic directly refers to the field of supporting activities of the European Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs): “The European data exchange is largely automated and runs via state-of-the art IT systems. The evaluated data provide the basis for the planning of electricity transmission. In this way, we can forecast energy flows for the upcoming hours and, if necessary, initiate transnationally coordinated emergency measures in time, such as the starting up of power plants.”

Despite the drastic decline in electricity consumption in Europe due to the restrictions imposed by the Corona crisis, the exchange and trade of electricity across borders is running smoothly. Occasionally, lower power line utilisation offers additional potential for cross-border support. Surplus electricity from western Europe, for example, was redirected via the Austrian grid of APG and via Slovenia to the northeast of Italy. In the face of the pandemic, everyone has closed ranks: In addition to the best possible mutual support, all TSOs have jointly decided that line disconnections for refurbishments and modifications will be temporarily reduced to the absolute minimum. “In doing so, we maximise transport capacity and thus increase the security of electricity supply in Europe”, states Mr Kapetanovic.

The low electricity demand also influences the European generation mix. Renewable energies are still being fully utilised, but thermal power plants, for instance, are being scaled back for cost reasons. This also has an impact on electricity flows in the transmission system. The TSOs therefore continuously forecast electricity flows for the next 24 hours and coordinate possible measures via video conference every evening. To ensure that this is maintained during the crisis, the operational core staff is protected by strict hygiene and organisational precautions, such as team splitting. All TSOs regularly exchange information on their respective measures throughout Europe.

European TSOs strengthen their cooperation and ensure supply security during the Corona crisis (picture: screenshot taken from ENTSO-E video “Tahir Kapetanovic – Regional Cooperation in the Energy Union”(YouTube))

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> See APG news release, in German (html)

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Dutch communication pilot project for aFRR provision

25.02.2020

The significant growth in decentralised energy generation is noticeably changing the European energy landscape. Consumers are also playing an increasingly active role by generating their own electricity as prosumers. The electricity system is thus changing from a demand-oriented system with centralised generation to a more supply-oriented system with decentralised generation. Maintaining the balance of the future transmission system is thus a major concern of European transmission system operators (TSOs), which could be supported by new players serving the ancillary services market as balancing services providers (BSPs). However, product specifications stand for a barrier to new entrants, for example in the field of data communications.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, is already researching suitable balancing solutions in several projects. TenneT is now also investigating the possibility of allowing decentralised, sustainable electrical energy to participate in the Dutch market for automatic Frequency Restoration Reserve (aFRR). The aFRR delivery requires a real-time data connection. Until now, the only secure and reliable option has been the leased line. This is not a problem for large production units, while for new BSPs the purchase of a leased line is a major barrier to entering the aFRR market.

This is where the aFRR pilot project comes in: For the first time, a new type of data connection was successfully used, whereby the data communication between the market participants and TenneT (for activation and measurements) was realised via TenneT’s mobile network. This removed a major obstacle to the provision of aFRR by (new) BSPs and enabled grid balancing by means of horticulturists, electric boilers and car batteries. TenneT will monitor and evaluate the performance of its mobile network in the coming months. If this is successful, the TSO will make the data connection available as soon as possible to all BSPs interested in using it to supply aFRR.

Tomatoes from Dutch greenhouses keeping the grid in balance – TenneT carries out a pilot project to improve data communication for aFRR supply

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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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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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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