ENTSO-E: Conference on the “System of Systems”

12.10.2020

Today the webinar or rather web conference series of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) under the motto “Vision for the future of the power system” started. The online events with panel discussions focus on the upcoming challenges and opportunities for the European energy system up to 2030 – how can we best contribute to climate neutrality by 2050, how can we put the customer first, and how can we increase the flexibility of the transmission system? The series was kicked off by the two-hour video conference “ENTSO-E’s Vision 2030: major trends and developments”. The core message was clear and ultimately resonated through all the contributions: “We need a multi-layer, multi-player, cross-sector and cross-border coordination, cooperation and integration.”

The first webinar of the series started with an introductory speech by Laurent Schmitt, Secretary General of ENTSO-E. Among the other contributors were Joachim Balke, Head of Unit for Infrastructure and Regional Cooperation in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy, and Morten Petersen, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. Both high-ranking representatives of European energy policy gave keynote speeches. Mr Balke reported on “The Green Deal: Pathways to deliver on the European long-term ambitions”. He stressed the possible synergies and said that we would only be able to achieve our goals if we stopped hesitating and started now. Mr Petersen spoke about “Key milestones on the path to climate neutrality by 2050 and delivering the Green Deal”.

Radical changes ahead
The issues addressed in the other individual presentations related to the ENTSO-E visions of the energy future and dealt with project scenarios in the network development plans, system needs, and the main trends in the energy system identified by ENTSO-E. Dimitrios Chaniotis, Chair of the System Development Committee of ENTSO-E, also described the enormous savings potential for Europe, but also the “significant uptake of HVDC transmission” through the offshore development. Timothée Decroix, Chair of the Policy & Communication Expert Group of ENTSO-E, explained the close linkage between System Operations and Market Design. The system change would be more radical than most people were aware of today. Power transmission grids were of crucial importance, but they could not solve the major tasks ahead on their own.

Damian Cortinas, Vision 2030 Project Leader at ENTSO-E, then came to a kind of conclusion: a “System of Systems” had to be established jointly, in which the Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) such as TSCNET Services were developed into Regional Coordination Centres (RCCs). The success of this system on would depend on four factors in particular: “resilience, forecasts, automation and artificial intelligence”.

Three stakeholder representatives brought various additional aspects to the discussion: Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe (Climate Action Network), Monique Goyens, Director General of the European consumer organisation BEUC, and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Secretary General of the industry association Hydrogen Europe. The open discussion that followed, with well over 20 contributions, was also very lively and highlighted many vastly different aspects. By the way, five more ENTSO-E webinars are scheduled in the next two days – it’s worth taking part.

ENTSO-E is hosting a webinar on the future development of the European power system

Linkup
> Open ENTSO-E webinar series webpage (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)

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

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Automated intraday capacity allocation at Austrian-Swiss border

05.10.2020

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

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

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

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

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Substantial EU funding for Harmony Link

02.10.2020

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is an important financial instrument of the EU to support targeted infrastructure investments at European level. On 1 October 2020, the coordination committee of the CEF decided to allocate €719.7m for investment in electricity transmission infrastructure in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The granting follows an application for funding submitted at the end of May this year by the national transmission system operators (TSOs) of the three Baltic States and by PSE, the Polish TSCNET shareholder.

Harmony Link, which is to be the second interconnector between Poland and Lithuania, particularly benefits: €493m will be directly allocated to the project. Further funding is intended for the upgrading of infrastructure required for the integration of Harmony Link and for the installation of synchronous compensators in the Baltic States.

The first Polish-Lithuanian interconnector is LitPol link, an overhead line connecting the PSE substation in Elk and the Lithuanian Alytus substation, which has been in operation since 2016. Harmony Link is implemented in a different technical way, as a high voltage direct current (HVDC) submarine cable bypassing the Curonian Lagoon and the Gdańsk Bay. The new Polish-Lithuanian interconnector is crucial to enable the synchronisation of the Baltic electricity area with the Continental European (CE) area – an important objective in the framework of the European Energy Union to create a common European electricity market. It will also support regional and supra-regional supply security.

The EU is funding the Polish and Baltic electricity infrastructure with €719.7m through the CEF Energy programme (picture of Gdańsk Bay seen from Gdynia: NAC on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Linkup
> See PSE press release (html)

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Network Agency decides on southern routing of SuedLink

25.09.2020

700 kilometres of underground cable to be laid and an investment volume of around €10bn – this makes the 525kV line SuedLink the largest and probably most important individual project of the energy transition in Germany. The exclusive use of underground cables in the project is politically specified to increase the acceptance of the project by the population: For only if one succeeds in effectively connecting the windy regions of northern Germany with the centres of consumption in the industrially highly developed south and west via such “electricity highways” as SuedLink, the German – and European – climate targets can be achieved.

SuedLink is jointly implemented by the two TSCNET shareholders TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and TransnetBW, the TSO from southwest Germany. The project is making step-by-step progress in the regulatory, planning, and implementation areas. This year, for example, regional planning offices have already been set up and the contracts for the cables awarded. Now the competent government authority, the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), has decided on the southern section between the Lower Franconian Arnstein near Schweinfurt and the Großgartach substation in the Stuttgart Metropolitan Region (SuedLink section E). This 137 kilometre long section runs through the control areas of both TSOs involved.

The Bundesnetzagentur’s decision largely follows the proposal by TenneT and TransnetBW, according to which the Würzburg metropolitan area is largely bypassed in the west. The proposal of the two TSOs had already incorporated the results of the application conferences and requirements of the Bundesnetzagentur. The last 16 kilometres to the Großgartach substation are a special construction feature. Here an existing salt mine is to be used for an underground course of the cable project. This increases construction costs, but these are outweighed by other benefits, in particular the reduced impact on the environment and residential areas. After the completion of the federal sectoral planning for the SuedLink section E, planning approval procedures are to follow which will determine the exact route of the line within the corridor and the technical implementation.

The German Federal Network Agency has decided on the southern section of the SuedLink power line, a joint project of TenneT and TransnetBW (picture: TenneT)

Linkup
> See press release by Bundesnetzagentur, in German (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)

Linkup
> 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)

Linkup
> See Amprion press release (html)

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Delay for Interim Coupling

11.09.2020

To introduce single day-ahead coupling in a total of 23 European countries, the so-called 4M Market Coupling Countries (4M MC) – Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia – are to be connected to the Europe-wide Multi Regional Coupling (MRC) of the electricity market. The initiative to implement the MRC extension is the DE-AT-PL-4M project, also referred to as “Interim Coupling Project”. It aims to establish implicit capacity allocation based on Net Transfer Capacity (NTC) at six borders: PL-DE, PL-CZ, PL-SK, CZ-DE, CZ-AT, and HU-AT. The TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, APG, ČEPS, MAVIR, PSE, SEPS, TenneT, and Transelectrica – transmission system operators (TSOs) from Austria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia – participate in Interim Coupling.

After the project had completed the design phase and entered the implementation phase at the end of 2019, Interim Coupling was actually supposed to start in September 2020. The TSOs and Nominated Electricity Market Operators (NEMOs) involved have now announced that the kick-off must be postponed. This is due to several project parties experiencing local implementation bottlenecks in the first quarter of 2020 because of interrelations between ongoing parallel projects. This led to a delay of several months in the implementation activities for Interim Coupling. National regulatory authorities have asked the European Commission to provide guidance on how to proceed with this project. Market players will be informed as soon as possible about the next steps.

The start of the AT-PL-4M MC project has been postponed

Linkup
> See MAVIR press release, html
> See PSE press release, html
> See SEPS press release, html
> Open AT-PL-4M MC information paper provided by Transelectrica (pdf, 262.12kB)

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German government on IT security of energy system

03.09.2020

At the beginning of August 2020, the German government received a so-called “Kleine Anfrage” (minor enquiry) from an opposition faction on the state of IT security of energy supply. In accordance with German parliamentary practice, such minor enquiries are answered in writing and in public by the Federal Government. The recently published written reply of 16 pages is of interest not only to German TSOs but also to European colleagues, as it covers national levels as well as the entire European interconnected grid.

Ultimately, the issue is the probability of a supra-regional blackout (not only for electricity, but for the entire energy supply). Does the progressing digitisation and automation result in an increased likelihood of energy supply failures? The attack surface of suppliers and grid operators surely has been expanded and the critical components of the digital energy system may be considered targets of cybercriminals or foreign states. In other words, the government had to deal with scenarios like in Marc Elsberg’s novel “Blackout”, which is supposed to be immensely popular in TSO circles (some will remember that the bestselling author was also one of the speakers at ElSeC 2017).

To start with, the Federal Government’s assessment is reassuring. Its statement is based on statistics for 2018 and 2019 from the German Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik). According to these statistics, external parties were able to penetrate the IT networks of German suppliers three times in 2018. In 2019, suppliers were the target of unauthorised access twice. None of the reported attacks led to interruptions in the energy supply. The government attributes this partly to the certified Smart Meter Gateway, a communication unit with integrated security module which is used to secure critical infrastructures – and successively also in the areas relevant to the energy transition.

According to the Federal Government, long-lasting supra-regional power failures are extremely rare. Regarding the national or the entire European interconnected grid, it has never been at risk and it is assumed that blackouts are extremely unlikely. However, a concrete probability cannot be stated. But even in the very unlikely event of a blackout, at least nationwide, the grid operators would ensure a rapid return of electricity supply through their grid restoration strategies. For this purpose, special power plants are kept in reserve which can start up without any external supply of electrical energy and which can reactivate power grids.

The German Federal Government has commented on the state of IT security of energy supply (illustration using a picture from ENTSO-E)

Linkup
> Open Reply of the Federal Government, in German (pdf, 321.7kB)

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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)

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

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