Germany’s first hybrid Statcom facility in operation

27.01.2020

Since January 24, Germany’s first hybrid static synchronous compensator (Statcom) system is connected to the power grid. For about two years, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has been modernising its long-established substation in Borken, in the German state of Hesse, practically at the centre of the German transmission system. The heart of the conversion work was the installation of the Statcom system. Due to the limited space available at the site, TenneT decided to build the Statcom system in hybrid construction, thus reducing the additional space requirement to less than one hectare.

With the high-performance technology in operation, TenneT uses the historic substation in Borken, which boasts a tradition of almost a hundred years, for a task that will contribute significantly to the success of the energy transition: the provision of dynamic voltage support and reactive power to compensate for the decreasing capacities previously provided by large power plants that are being successively shut down. The TSO invested around €30m in the Borken substation, that now has become one of the most modern hubs for green power in the German grid.

Last Friday, Axel Schomberg, Head of TenneT Grid Operations, together with high representatives of local politics, officially commissioned the Statcom system, underlining the significance of the facility for the energy transition. In combination with the numerous other reactive power compensation systems operated in the 129 German TenneT substations, including compensation coils, MSCDN systems and the first rotating phase shifter in the German power grid at the time of installation, the Statcom system contributes to the static reactive power supply.

TenneT has commissioned Germany’s first hybrid Statcom system (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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TransnetBW promotes weather-dependent line operation

20.01.2020

The energy transition requires the transport of increased amounts of electricity and thus more efficient grid usage. TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the southwest of Germany, intends to take greater account of the fact that overhead lines have different maximum loads depending on the weather conditions. On a cool, windy day, for instance, considerably more electricity can be transported than on a hot, windless day. To make optimum use of this effect, the TSCNET shareholder is currently implementing a system that provides the necessary detailed information about the specific line capacity for improved network management.

The project, which the TSO is carrying out together with Energy & Meteo Systems GmbH, a provider of power predictions and virtual power plants, is called “Witterungsabhängiger Freileitungsbetrieb 3.0” (weather-dependent overhead line operation 3.0 – WAFB 3.0). Together, significant locations for the real-time monitoring of overhead lines in the TransnetBW control area were defined and weather stations and sensors are now being installed at 250 pylons and 48 substations to detect the weather-dependent transmission capacity of the respective lines. This will give TransnetBW much more accurate data on the utilisation of the grid to better avoid bottlenecks.

Alexander Hofmann, WAFB 3.0 project manager at TransnetBW, explains the approach: “Up to now, we have only considered the temperature at regional level for our grid operation. With WAFB 3.0, we record not only the temperature but also the wind on a small scale, which opens up much more options for our daily grid operation. Initially, the system helps us to check the forecast values used and to adjust them if necessary. From 2023 on, it will determine for each line individually and in real time which transmission capacities will be available when required.”

TransnetBW collects and utilises data on the weather-dependent transmission capacity of overhead lines (picture: analogicus)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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Study on German-Polish TSO cooperation

16.01.2020

The two transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz from Germany and PSE from Poland jointly conducted the “German-Polish Study on cooperation between TSOs PSE and 50Hertz in long-term and mid-term perspectives”, which now has been finalised. The study was supported by the respective national Ministries responsible for energy.

As its title suggests, the study is divided into an investigation of medium-term and long-term cooperation objectives. The mid-term part aims at improving the coordination of the operational planning processes. The following issues, among others, have been identified as important: improving the quality of forecasting of power flows at the German-Polish border and the coordinated use of cross-border remedial measures such as phase-shifting transformers as well as bilateral and multilateral redispatch. To better predict cross-border flows, PSE and 50 Hertz agreed to support the development of a flow-based methodology, and as far as the remedial measures are concerned, advanced software solutions are required. However, not only the development of an IT tool is needed here, but also advanced coordination and cost sharing in a region-wide mechanism.

For the long-term study, a modelling process carried out by the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Warsaw was used, which was consulted and monitored by experts from both TSOs. Using alternative scenarios, different time frames and market simulations, the main trends in German-Polish electricity exchange as well as future challenges for regional markets and networks were identified, such as interconnector capacities, growth of energy demands or deviating energy prices.

50Hertz and PSE have conducted a joint study on German-Polish TSO cooperation (picture: Andreas Vogel / CC BY-SA 4.0)

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> See PSE press release (html)
> See 50Hertz webpage on the study, in German (html)
> Open Executive summary (pdf, 538.47kB)

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TransnetBW’s grid booster confirmed

22.12.2019

Power generation in Germany is changing rapidly in the course of the energy transition and increasingly large amounts of renewable electricity must be transmitted from the north and east to the south and west. If the generated electricity exceeds line capacities, the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) have to perform costly redispatch measures. The grid infrastructure clearly needs expansion, for which the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) have conceived the “Network Development Plan (NDP) 2030”, the 2019 version of which was published this spring. To minimise the need for grid extension and cut redispatch costs, the NDP includes innovations that could result from technological progress in the coming years. In addition to Power-to-X and monitoring systems, prototypes of so-called grid boosters are also considered.

TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the TSO from the southwest of Germany, plans a grid booster pilot at the Kupferzell substation near Schwäbisch-Hall in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg. The concept includes a fast power source in the shape of a large battery at the end of a line section that is subject to frequent strain and overload, which applies to the Kupferzell grid node. The grid booster that is envisaged, one of three in the NDP, will have an output of 250MW. The booster battery can supply energy within a few seconds. In periods of high grid load, the booster is intended to relieve the system in case of disturbances until the bottleneck can be eliminated in a targeted manner by the system management.

The Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the competent authority, has now approved the booster plans of TransnetBW. With this confirmation by the agency, the project can enter the procedure for inclusion in the Federal Requirements Plan, the government list of essential projects for the sustainable energy future of Germany. TransnetBW considers the grid booster to be a great opportunity to design and operate the grid infrastructure efficiently in the long term and is investing a high multi-digit million-euro amount in this environmentally friendly storage technology.

The Federal Network Agency confirms the plans of TransnetBW for a grid booster at the Kupferzell grid node (illustration using a picture of TransnetBW)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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Multi Regional Coupling expanded by the end of 2020

17.12.2019

The Multi Regional Coupling (MRC) of the European electricity market is to be substantially enhanced by connecting the so-called 4M Market Coupling Countries (4M MC), i.e. the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, to the Europe-wide MRC. This will establish Single Day-Ahead Coupling across 23 European countries.

In preparation for this market integration, the so-called Interim Coupling Project (DE-AT-PL-4M MC Project) was launched. It has now completed the design phase and is entering the implementation phase. This provides the Nominated Electricity Market Operators (NEMOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs) from Austria (APG), Germany (50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW), Poland (PSE) and the 4M MC countries (ČEPS, MAVIR, Transelectrica and SEPS) with a sound basis for announcing the MRC inclusion for the third quarter of 2020.

The AT-PL-4M MC Project introduces implicit capacity allocation based on Net Transfer Capacity (NTC) at six borders (PL-DE, PL-CZ, PL-SK, CZ-DE, CZ-AT, HU-AT). The competent National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) welcome the progress made and the synergies from the project, which will facilitate the introduction of Flow-Based Market Coupling in the Core Capacity Calculation Region (Core CCR), which is the ultimate target.

The AT-PL-4M MC project for integrating Czechia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia into MRC has entered the implementation phase.

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> See PSE press release (html)
> See SEPS press release (html)
> Open joint press release (pdf, 216.14kB)

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Precise prognoses with AI

11.12.2019

In the control area of the German transmission system operator (TSO) 50Hertz in northern and eastern Germany, the installed capacity of renewable energies is particularly high. Since renewable energy in Germany is typically generated at a considerable distance from the centres of consumption and thus must be transmitted over long distances, the transmission losses for 50Hertz are correspondingly high. In 2018, the TSCNET shareholder transmitted a total of 117TWh of electricity and the losses amounted to 2.5TWh which corresponds to 2%.

TSOs must compensate for these losses through costly feed-in measures. 50Hertz spent around €70m in 2018 on compensatory electricity and has a keen interest in predicting losses more accurately and purchasing electricity for compensation at lower cost on the electricity market. Therefore, 50Hertz has developed a new prognosis model based on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The previous model was based on forecasts for the expected feed-in of wind and solar power and a comparison with similar days in the past. For the new model, 50Hertz provided a much larger database: At 70 different locations in the 50Hertz control area, data on the feed-in of renewables as well as on the amount of wind, insolation and temperature are collected every quarter of an hour. With this enormous quantity of data, the artificial neural network is to calculate a transmission loss forecast for the following day, also with an accuracy of 15 minutes. The forecasts are then compared with the actual grid losses and the algorithm is automatically adjusted. This process is repeated thousands of times and the forecasts become more and more accurate.

The neural network has been in the test phase since the end of June 2019. Since then, the data has been cleansed and a database has been built so that the AI algorithm has been continuously improved and highly reliable prognoses can now be created. Since 9 December, the model is fully applied and used operationally at 50Hertz.

50Hertz has developed an AI based forecast model for grid losses (picture: 50Hertz)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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525kV technology for Germany’s “power highways”

04.12.2019

SuedLink, SuedOstLink and A-Nord are large-scale DC connection projects that are essential for Germany’s low-carbon energy future, since these so-called “Stromautobahnen” (power highways) will transport green electricity generated in the north and east of the country to the consumption centres in the south and west. The three power lines will be implemented predominantly via underground cabling and are collaborative efforts of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). TenneT and TransnetBW cooperate on SuedLink, 50Hertz and TenneT join forces on SuedOstLink and A-Nord is carried out by Amprion. Together with Ultranet, a joint project with TransnetBW, A-Nord forms the Korridor A.

The four TSCNET shareholders intend to install innovative plastic-insulated DC cables with a voltage level of 525kV in these projects. So far, 320kV cables have been used for comparable DC connections in Germany. As a matter of fact, it will be the first use of 525kV underground cables worldwide, which underlines the pilot character of the three high-performance connections. The decision by the TSOs was preceded by an extensive test phase on the technical suitability of the 525kV cables. The pre-qualification tests according to international standards of the Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) were successful and proved that the 525kV cables are reliable and safe.

A higher voltage level of the cables translates into more transmission capacity. This has two possible effects for the planned DC lines, assuming technical feasibility for the entire system: On the one hand, more electricity can be transmitted in a certain corridor with the same number of cables. On the other hand, fewer cables are required to transmit the same power compared to 320kV cable systems. This allows the routing to be designed narrower, which reduces excavation work and environmental impact.

The four German TSOs opt for innovative 525kV solution for power highways with underground cabling (picture: TenneT)

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

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New 50Hertz CEO takes up duties

03.12.2019

On 1 December, Stefan Kapferer took office as the new chairman of the executive board of TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Until the end of October 2019, Kapferer headed the German Energy and Water Association (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft – BDEW). Kapferer succeeds interim CEO Dr. Frank Golletz, CTO of 50Hertz, who took over the additional duties after former CEO Boris Schucht had left the company in March 2019.

At a purpose-arranged press conference on 3 December in the German capital Berlin, Stefan Kapferer acknowledged the appeal and diversity of his new task. “The next phase of the realisation of the energy transition is an even greater challenge in terms of entrepreneurship and the European side of things. TSOs play an essential role here,” explained Kapferer. The main issues to be dealt with by 50Hertz are the German coal phase-out, following the current nuclear phase-out, the national legislative climate specifications and the grid extension which is essential for all these measures. For a Baltic Sea riparian TSO, it is particularly important to set the right course for the development of offshore wind energy.

Chris Peeters, head of the 50Hertz supervisory board, highlighted Kapferer’s wealth of political and international experience as former German State Secretary and Deputy Secretary General of the OECD and concluded: “I am convinced that Kapferer’s skills combined with the technical know-how of our staff will result in a great future for 50Hertz. Together we work for our goal: a successful energy transition.”

Stefan Kapferer is in office as new CEO of 50Hertz (picture: 50Hertz / Jan Pauls)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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Swift progress for new 50Hertz overhead line

29.11.2019

This May, TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), started the construction of the first section of the 380kV Perleberg-Wolmirstedt overhead line. The new line will connect the Perleberg substation in Brandenburg with the Wolmirstedt substation in Saxony-Anhalt over a distance of 106km and replace the existing 220kV line from the 1950s. This grid extension is intended to ensure that the increasing quantities of regionally generated electricity from renewable sources are also available to consumers in southern and western Germany.

The first construction phase with 87 pylons and a length of 37km stretches between the substations Stendal West and Wolmirstedt. Construction work is progressing rapidly. More than half of the pylons have now been erected and some masts have already been fitted with power cables. Construction should be completed by mid-March next year.

50Hertz has already erected 48 pylons of the Perleberg-Wolmirstedt overhead line (picture of the substation Wolmirstedt: Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg)

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

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Reaching the goal quickly with calculated risk

22.11.2019

Anyone who knows the Munich premises of TSCNET Services has probably also seen the photo wall with private photos of almost all employees. When the answer to the question “Do you have a photo for our wall, too?” is “Yes, but only one with me hanging head over feet out of a helicopter in the clouds”, you might think of a joke, but with him it’s none: Péter Szőcs, the new Data Center Support Specialist at TSCNET, not only has special professional skills, but also quite special hobbies. A native of Romania with Hungarian and German roots, he likes it fast and used to be an extremely successful professional motorcycle racer competing against the world’s best. Today he rather wants to go high and enjoy free fall as a skydiver. Here, too, he has an impressive international network and is well known on the scene.

For him, his personal and professional motivation is described by the fact that if he stands two and a half miles above the ground in an open aircraft door and can take a step into the empty space himself, then he could do anything. How can this be understood? Well, there is a saying circulating in the skydiving community that hints at the special magic of this sport: “For those who jump, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not jump, no explanation is possible.”

High speed and an experienced handling of risks also benefit Péter at work. In addition to studying history and journalism, he holds a bachelor’s degree in mechatronics and computer science. He has worked as a senior IT technical consultant on unified communication and contact centre solutions, e.g. for BMW, and as the Head of IT/Networking of the Transylvania International Film Festival.

Today he sees himself as a motivated and versatile professional with many years of IT experience, who is always looking forward undertaking new and exciting challenges. Together with his colleagues from the IT Infrastructure Services team, he wants to integrate and implement solutions that help TSCNET employees become more efficient in their business operation to increase productivity. “I want to be an active part of something that has an impact beyond our lives, where the focus is outward and the mission is more than the bottom line,” explains Péter. If this happens at a proverbial breakneck speed and helps the company climb dizzying heights, the co-workers will be the last to object!

TSCNET Services welcomes Péter Szőcs

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