Completion of repairs at Albula Pass

30.07.2019

In mid-April, TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO), began repairing the 380kV lines on the Albula Pass in the canton of Grisons, which had been damaged by the windstorm Adrian (Vaia in the German-speaking area), in the night of 29 to 30 October 2018. Since then, the two affected lines (Filisur-Robbia and Pradella-Robbia-Sils) were out of service, as Swissgrid decided for safety reasons not to erect a temporary connection in winter due to the danger of avalanches. The four damaged pylons and the conductors have now been replaced. On 29 July 2019, the lines were put back in operation as scheduled.

During the outage of the lines, grid security in the transmission system was always guaranteed and there were no supply interruptions. But the importance of the line as a north-south link made the repair particularly urgent. Thanks to partial snow clearance by the Civil Engineering Office of Grisons and a temporary avalanche protection system, Swissgrid was able to start work even before the official opening of the Albulapass road. Thus, Swissgrid was already able to start work on the four pylons on 15 April. The old foundations were removed, and new ones laid. The pylons were then built, and the conductors installed. The new pylons withstand even greater wind forces due to their stronger foundations and supporting structures. Two pylons now also have foundations with integrated avalanche protection.

Strict safety regulations were followed during the work. The high alpine terrain and the unpredictable weather of the snowy winter of 2018/19 presented the repair team with major challenges. The local avalanche commission issued an avalanche bulletin every day and activities were planned based on this information. The specialists on the construction sites were equipped with avalanche detectors and a container would have provided 48 hours of protection in an emergency. The work was accident-free. The Swiss TSO also developed and implemented a comprehensive environmental plan to protect the high alpine landscape. For example, the soil layers were removed and stored separately and returned to their original place after completion of the foundation work. The original state of the surroundings was then restored as far as possible.

Swissgrid has finished repair work on the damaged overhead lines at the Albula Pass (picture: Swissgrid)

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Consultation on risk preparedness regulation

09.07.2019

The European Parliament adopted the “Clean Energy for All Europeans Package” (CEP) on 26 March 2019, which was then formally approved by the relevant EU ministers. On 4 July, the CEP finally came into force, introducing new laws on EU electricity trading, including the “Regulation 2019/941 on risk-preparedness in the electricity sector”. This Regulation requires the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) to develop the methodology to identify regional scenarios for electricity crises within six months of its implementation.

ENTSO-E has now prepared proposals for the “Methodology for identification of electricity crisis scenarios at a regional level” and the “Methodology for short term and seasonal adequacy assessment”. In order to receive input from stakeholders, ENTSO-E has launched a public consultation on these methodology propositions. The consultation is open until 8 October 2019 and ENTSO-E will also host a webinar on the risk preparedness methodologies on 5 September from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

ENTSO-E opens consultation on EU Risk Preparedness Regulation

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> Direct access to ENTSO-E consultation (html)
> Open webinar registration site (html)
> See EU Regulation at EUR-Lex (html)

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Amprion presents CWE market report

03.06.2019

Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), has published its market report for the period 2015 to 2018. In this comprehensive document, the TSCNET shareholder investigates the development of the electricity market in the Central Western Europe (CWE) region using data from Flow-Based Market Coupling (FBMC). The CWE countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) implemented FBMC in May 2015, which allows TSOs to allocate cross-border capacity and maximise market efficiency without compromising grid stability. This is due to the inclusion of the entire regional network in the coupling of electricity markets.

The control area of Amprion is a central hub for cross-border electricity trading in the CWE region. With its transmission capacities, the TSO can export up to eight GW of electricity at peak times and thus generate more than half of Germany’s total export performance. Transmission via the Amprion grid thus also supports security of supply in neighbouring countries, especially in critical situations such as winter 2016/2017.

Amprion’s analysis shows that the integration of the CWE markets is already well advanced and continues to progress. At the same time, the growing difference between positive and negative price peaks on the electricity exchanges also highlights the challenge of the highly volatile supply of renewable energies. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, Chief Commercial Officer and CFO of Amprion, comments: “The mutual dependency in Europe on system security will continue to rise. We are therefore doing everything physically possible to connect the national markets and networks even better.”

Amprion has published a comprehensive market report for the CWE region

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> See Amprion press release (html)
> Open Amprion market report (pdf, 3,43MB)

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Swissgrid analyses critical situation

27.05.2019

On the critical situation in the Swiss transmission grid on Monday, 20 May 2019, when individual grid elements were considerably overloaded or threatened to be overloaded, TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission grid operator (TSO), has already completed an initial analysis. On that day, with a high Swiss domestic electricity production of around 12 GW, a total of around 4.5 GW was exported, most of it to Germany. Since the load flows typically run in the opposite direction, this atypical situation led to security breaches in the grid.

For reasons unknown, the European grid forecasts did not anticipate that export volumes would increase in the short term from Sunday to Monday. Swissgrid had thus to resolve the grid security breaches in real-time operation in cooperation with colleagues from the European TSOs. This incident shows that the forecasts can deviate considerably from the actual load flows. It also indicates the crucial importance of integrating all transmission grids in Europe, including Switzerland, into the grid modelling, so that any threats to grid security can be identified in advance and coordinated measures can be taken.

However, since Switzerland is excluded from market coupling due to the lack of an electricity agreement with the EU, the deviations between forecasts and effective load flows are likely to increase. An agreement, on the other hand, would include Swissgrid in the models for load flow calculation and capacity allocation of the European partners and provide the TSO with better information on the load flows through Switzerland.

Swissgrid presents first analysis of the grid security breach from 20 May (picture: Swissgrid)

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> See Swissgrid news release, in German (html)

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Pylon repair started at Albula Pass

25.05.2019

The windstorm Adrian (Vaia in the German-speaking area) was one of the most devastating storms of the European storm season 2018-19, mainly affecting the northern Mediterranean and Alpine regions. It not only damaged the Venetian Basilica of San Marco and flooded 75% of Venice, but also destroyed transmission lines at the Albula Pass: In the night to 30 October 2018, four pylons from TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) bent or collapsed at the high mountain pass in the Canton of Grisons.

Since then, the two affected 380kV lines (Filisur-Robbia and Pradella-Robbia-Sils) have been out of operation, as Swissgrid has decided for safety reasons not to erect a provisional connection with emergency masts in winter due to the danger of avalanches. Nevertheless, grid security in the transmission grid is ensured at all times and there have been no supply interruptions. While security and supply are guaranteed, however, transit capacity to Italy had to be reduced until the line is restored.

Swissgrid began repairing the 380kV lines in mid-April and is now replacing the four broken pylons whose foundations are currently being reconstructed. New pylons and the conductor ropes will then be installed. If everything goes according to plan, the two lines will go operational again at the end of July.

Swissgrid has commenced repair work on the damaged overhead lines at the Albula Pass (picture: Swissgrid)

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> See Swissgrid media release (html)

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APG automates emergency messages

20.02.2019

“In emergencies involving high voltages, quick help from proper specialists is needed,” explains Stevica Rakic, Project Manager at TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO). As the emergency services need accurate information, all 12,000 pylons in the APG control area have been equipped with an individual QR code since summer 2018. A corresponding specially developed smartphone application enables a reliable and quick notification of the right personnel in an emergency.

The QR codes are located on the pylon number plates and can be read with a scanner or simply with the camera from iOS or Android smartphones. If a random passer-by notices a potentially critical incident, he can press “Emergency Message” after scanning the code and the information process begins with automatically forwarding the message containing the relevant information to APG, the police, ambulance services, and the fire department. Besides, the person reporting is connected directly to the APG Security Center by phone.

If professional personnel use the function, APG’s digital security platform opens immediately. Of course, one cannot always rely on the availability of modern technology. Internet connections can be interrupted or there might be no smartphone available. Therefore, the familiar pylon and line numbers, as well as the emergency telephone number, remain on the plates so that an emergency message can still be sent without a smartphone or internet connection.

APG has equipped each of its pylons with an individual QR code for the automatic forwarding of emergency messages (picture: APG/APA/Schedl)

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> See APG press release, in German (html)

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“RiffReporter” story: The more precise the forecast, the less intervention is required

11.12.2018

A detailed article by freelance journalist Daniela Becker on the German reportage website RiffReporter, an innovative and award-winning project for “quality journalism on future topics”, presents TSCNET Services and the work of a Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) for the European power transmission grid. The article is based on thorough research and a talk with the two TSCNET managing directors, Maik Neubauer and Uwe Zimmermann. Besides the development of the company, the possible consequences of the EU package “Clean Energy for All Europeans” are also discussed.

An article on TSCNET Services has been issued on the reportage platform RiffReporter (picture: TSCNET Services / Quirin Leppert)

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> Read RiffReporter article, in German (html)

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“The backbone of cross-border trading” at Euroforum Conference

08.12.2018

Euroforum is a prestigious German promoter of first-class conferences, seminars and meetings and a subsidiary of the Handelsblatt Media Group, which publishes the leading German-language business newspaper. The Euroforum events bring together experts from business, science and politics and create forums for the transfer of knowledge and the exchange of opinions. This year’s Euroforum conference on 6 and 7 December in Düsseldorf, the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, was dedicated to the topic of “Intraday trading in the electricity sector – digitisation and automation as growth drivers”.

TSCNET Services as one of the five European Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) – with fifteen transmission system operators (TSOs) from eleven central and eastern European countries as shareholders – can offer significant contributions on this area, which is why Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of the Munich-based company, gladly accepted the invitation of Euroforum to speak at the conference. Mr. Neubauer, who acted in the past also as Board Member of the European Energy Exchange EEX where he already was part of a task force to work on a concept for a pan-European Intraday Trading system, presented the work of the European RSCs to an audience of experts. He stated that the work of the RSCs – largely unnoticed by the general public – is important to ensure a stable transmission network for their TSO shareholders with regional risk analyses. “Without the 24/7 work of the European TSOs and the RSCs to keep the European grid stable there wouldn’t be a sustainable basis for an efficient energy market on the continent,” Neubauer said.

In the conference many discussions had been around the development of the new European Intraday Trading System XBID that helps traders, generators, but also TSOs, to balance out the grids within the day of delivery.

Maik Neubauer presented the transmission grid as backbone of cross-border trading at Euroforum Conference in Düsseldorf, Germany

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> Visit Euroforum Conference website, in German (html)

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Dutch recovery facility ready for operation

04.10.2018

Although it is most unlikely that there will ever be a complete power outage in the Netherlands, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the German-Dutch transmission system operator (TSO), wants to be prepared even for such an unimaginable scenario and thus also fulfil European agreements. For these reasons, a new recovery facility for the high-voltage grid was put into operation at the gas-fired Enecogen power plant in the Rotterdam-Europoort area.

In the event of a total blackout, the Dutch power plants will have to be reactivated, which is exactly the task of the new equipment. Like an enormous starter motor, the system ‒ consisting of an emergency generator and a gas turbine ‒ switches the Rotterdam power station back on. Then the rest of the power supply, be it other large-scale plants, solar or wind farms, is connected back to the grid step by step in order to quickly reactivate the national transmission system.

The Enecogen recovery facility is the third emergency system contracted by TenneT in the Netherlands. With comparable units in the north and centre of the country, the new “starter of the south” now completes the TSO’s emergency and recovery concept for total power failures.

In the port of Rotterdam, a new recovery facility for outages in the Dutch transmission grid was commissioned on behalf of TenneT (Picture: TenneT)

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“E&M Powernews”: “Excellent overview of the grid”

27.07.2018

Largely unnoticed by the broad public, five European regional security coordinators (RSCs) are working on what is arguably the most important task for ensuring the security of electricity supply at continental level: a stable and secure transmission system. RSCs analyse critical grid situations from a regional perspective and advise their customers in order to avoid bottlenecks or even blackouts. One of them is TSCNET Services. A detailed background article published by “Energie & Management”, a renowned daily German print and online newspaper for the energy market, portrays the company and presents the special challenges that an RSC has to face every day.

For example, a critical situation occurred in the very cold January 2017. “Even though the redispatch coordination functioned well at that time, the emergence of grid bottlenecks has shown that in the course of the expansion of renewable energies in Europe, we need to identify critical conditions and developments even faster”, explains Maik Neubauer, one of the two managing directors of TSCNET Services. For this reason, TSCNET, in close cooperation with the partner TSOs, has established the “Critical Grid Situation Service” to facilitate communication between the RSC and the TSOs.

Close and seamless communication is crucial for TSCNET Services, because the RSC does not intervene in the transmission network itself, but gives recommendations for action. The final decision, however, lies with the responsible TSO, which can always rely on the validity of the information provided by TSCNET. To ensure this reliability, the specialists at TSCNET monitor the network flows in Central and Eastern Europe. This involves a lot of data: More or less 600,000 data series with a volume in the double-digit gigabyte range yield around 300 prognoses every single day – a “big data company with top advisory expertise”.

Still, the volume of data will continue to increase, especially in view of the implementation of the Common Grid Model (CGM) under the EU network codes. “Today, we still lack some data, especially about the situation at the interfaces to the distribution grids”, states Maik Neubauer. Once the individual grid models of the respective TSOs and the CGM have been established, the additional data also flows into the calculations of TSCNET. This will expand the RSC’s perspective and further optimise system operation. While critical situations affecting only two TSOs can be resolved bilaterally, it becomes more difficult, if several parties are involved. An incident in Poland, for instance, may well affect not only Germany but also the Czech Republic. In such a case, the central coordination provided by TSCNET is essential to anticipate problems or to calculate short-term effects.

Every day at 9:00 pm, TSCNET’s Daily Operational Planning Teleconference (DOPT) with the TSOs’ experts will be held to summarise system occurrences and to coordinate possible compensation measures for the next day. Though everyone involved is quite satisfied with this daily routine, the EU is also pursuing divergent plans. In the context of the European Commission’s “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package, the idea of Regional Operational Centres (ROCs) came into being, which would extend the role of current RSCs by giving them operational responsibility. The TSOs – who would have to hand over competences – are sceptical, and also Maik Neubauer has clear positions in this regard. He points out the complexity of the European power system and the valuable experience of national TSOs. Mr. Neubauer therefore prefers to further improve regional coordination and to leave the operational business to the TSOs: “A Europe-wide centralisation of grid control would be a mammoth project with many risks and unknowns.”

“Energie & Management”, the well-esteemed German trade magazin for the energy market, released an article on the Munich-based RSC TSCNET Services.

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> Visit “E&M Powernews” website, in German (html)
> See “E&M Powernews” article, in German (pay to read the article)

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