First cables of ALEGrO installed

27.09.2019

The “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay” (ALEGrO) will be the first direct interconnector of the German and Belgian electricity grids. Its transmission capacity of 1,000MW is going to significantly increase cross-border electricity flows and security of supply in the regions surrounding the new converter stations at the respective ALEGrO end points, Niederzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is jointly being implemented by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and the Belgian TSO Elia.

In the summer of 2019, several teams were working simultaneously at different points along the 41km-long ALEGrO section in Germany on the installation of the conduit system for the underground cables. Underground cabling is used exclusively for the entire German-Belgian power bridge. Due to the dry summer, construction work on the DC link has progressed rapidly: 60 percent of the cable conduits have already been completed. Amprion is now beginning to pull the 320kV cables successively into the conduits, initially in Niederzier, where the construction of the new ALEGrO converter plant is also progressing well.

Amprion starts the installation of ALEGrO underground cables (picture: Rheinhard Nießing / Amprion)

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50 new pylons for the Pradella-La Punt line

19.09.2019

The extra-high voltage line in the Swiss Engadine between Pradella/Scuol and La Punt represents a bottleneck in the Swiss and the European transmission grid. To remedy this shortcoming, TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO), began upgrading the 380kV line to 2 x 380kV in October 2017. This will increase import capacity from the north, strengthen interconnections with Austria and Italy and facilitate the transport of hydropower in the canton of Grisons. The project also improves security of supply in Switzerland and is part of the “Strategic Grid 2025”, Swissgrid’s ambitious modernisation and expansion plan.

Basically, the upgrade means that Swissgrid will attach a second 380kV line to the pylons, which are originally fitted with only one line on one side. Over the past two years, the TSO has reinforced the mast foundations between Pradella and La Punt and will complete this work in autumn. But Swissgrid has also examined the static of the pylons and discovered that some of them have insufficient load capacity for the second circuit. For safety reasons, it was thus decided to replace 50 of altogether 127 masts instead of reinforcing them. This change has no impact on the routing, but on the schedule: The commissioning of the upgraded line will be delayed by at least one year and is now planned for 2022.

Swissgrid has to erect 50 new pylons for the Pradella-La Punt line (picture: Swissgrid)

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Swissgrid adjusts export capacities to Germany

03.09.2019

All participants in the integrated European electricity market have agreed on common definitions of the transmission capacity for international electricity exchanges, including the Net Transfer Capacity (NTC). The NTC is an important basis to anticipate and plan cross-border transactions. Thus, the establishment of NTCs is one of the essential tasks of the transmission system operators (TSOs) to enable market participants to carry out energy trading without jeopardising grid stability. TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss TSO, along with the neighbouring TSOs, determines the NTC values on all four Swiss borders on an annual, monthly and daily basis.

In the summer of 2019, Swissgrid had to reduce the NTC on the national northern border to Germany to ensure reliable grid operation. Originally, a static NTC value of 4,000 MW for exports from Switzerland to Germany had been defined with the neighbouring German TSOs. However, the load flows between the two countries have changed in the last two years. Situations in which Germany is dependent on imports, especially from Switzerland, occurred increasingly in the summer months. As a result, the previously typical north-south flow towards Italy reversed to a south-north flow towards Germany.

Other simultaneous factors also affected the Swiss grid load, such as the high level of Swiss hydropower production, the inspection times of the Swiss nuclear power plants and the seasonal decommissioning and construction work on the grid. In combination with the growth in exports to Germany, this led to significantly higher load flows in the Swiss 220kV grid, which were additionally reinforced by increased export opportunities from France to Germany through Flow-Based Market Coupling (FMBC) in the Central Western Europe (CWE) region and transit through Switzerland.

In fact, exports of up to 8,000MW were recorded on several days this summer. For this reason, Swissgrid, together with its neighbouring TSOs, has limited the NTC values for a secure grid operation. Swissgrid continues to cooperate closely with these TSOs to optimise cross-border capacity. The current static value of 4,000MW is expected to be substituted by seasonally adjusted dynamic NTC values. However, due to the implementation of the “Clean Energy for All Europeans Package” (CEP) of the European Commission, it is not yet possible to predict exactly how the NTC values at Switzerland’s northern border will develop.

Swissgrid adjusts the NTC values for electricity flows at the Swiss-German border

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50Hertz to improve grid utilisation

29.08.2019

To respond to current and future transmission system requirements, operators can either expand the grid or optimise its utilisation – ideally, they do both. TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is also facing up to the challenges arising from the higher capacity load on the existing grid. The TSO presented its innovative assets and concepts at the System Security Conference (“Systemsicherheitskonferenz”), which is held every two years by 50Hertz.

This year’s conference on 28 August, the 11th edition, attracted almost 150 participants from the energy industry, science, politics and administration to the Berlin headquarters of 50Hertz, where they were welcomed by 50Hertz CEO Dr. Frank Golletz, who also plays the role of the company’s CTO. Golletz explained how the TSO tackles the technical challenges using previously uncommon technologies such as static compensators (STATCOM), series compensations, back-to-back converters or static and rotary phase shifters. “With these assets, our grid becomes a highly dynamic grid in which the power flow is actively controlled,” commented Golletz.

In addition, Golletz argued that, alongside to the indispensable technical innovations, the rules on the energy market should also be continuously further developed. It is important to set the right incentives for all market participants so that the electricity market not only functions from a business point of view, but also keeps an eye on the entire economy.

50Hertz has held its 11th System Security Conference in Berlin, Germany (picture of headquarters: 50Hertz)

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TSO conditions for reserve capacity approved

05.08.2019

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs), the TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TransnetBW and Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, ensure the supply of electricity under all circumstances and thus hold reserve capacities as ultima ratio for unforeseeable and exceptional extreme situations on the electricity market. The reserve capacity is calculated at 2GW and the facilities to provide the capacity are determined every two years by the TSOs through a tendering procedure.

Last week, the Bundesnetzagentur (German Federal Network Agency) approved the new standard conditions for the reserve capacity which had been drafted by the TSOs. The standard conditions are the basis of the contractual relationship between the respective TSO and the operator providing the capacity. They are designed to be as transparent as possible and include, among other things, rules on the availability and use of the reserve system, remuneration or contractual penalties.

Due to the standard conditions, the potential participants in the tender procedure know the terms under which the reserve facilities must be operated and the legal consequences in case of failure of a plant. Now that the conditions have been approved, the tender for the first performance period can start as planned on 1 September 2019.

The German Federal Network Agency approved the TSO standard conditions for reserve capacity (picture: Bundesnetzagentur)

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Regional Coordination Centre for South-East Europe

18.07.2019

The three transmission system operators (TSOs) of the South-East Europe Capacity Calculation Region (CCR) – TSCNET shareholder Transelectrica from Romania, ESO from Bulgaria and IPTO from Greece – have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on establishing a Regional Coordination Centre (RCC). The memorandum emphasises the ambition of the TSOs to strengthen regional cooperation and thus contribute to the safety and efficiency of the European transmission system.

The agreement provides a cooperation framework between the three contracting parties with the common objective of finding a mutually acceptable solution for the implementation of an RCC on the principle of meeting the requirements of the Third European Energy Package and the Clean Energy for all Europeans Package as efficiently, effectively and timely as possible. The MoU sets a time frame for the core decisions. The SEE capacity calculator is to be determined as early as 4 August 2019 and the necessary documents for the founding of the RCC are to be signed by the end of the year.

The three TSOs of the South-East Europe CCR have signed a MoU on establishing an RCC (picture of the “New Europe Bridge” connecting Romania and Bulgaria across the Danube by Erich Westendarp, Pixabay).

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DA/RE project: first retrievals of redispatch capacities

11.07.2019

The Baden-Württemberg grid security initiative “DA/RE” (“DAta exchange/REdispatch”) addresses the increasing volatility and decentralisation of power generation. The aim is to stabilise the entire electricity system by utilising the flexibility potential of decentralised generation units from lower grid levels. Originally launched in the summer of 2018 by TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the German transmission system operator (TSO) from the state of Baden-Württemberg, and the southwest German distribution system operator (DSO) Netze BW, the project consortium was later expanded so that a total of three DSOs and four other partners from the areas of virtual power plants, home storage and energy trading were involved in the first DA/RE pilot phase from April to June 2019.

During this phase, the participants have defined and developed the method of data exchange and coordination. Following this successful implementation process, the first retrievals from pilot plants in the distribution network for redispatch purposes have now been initiated. Capacities were retrieved from battery home storage facilities, several biogas plants, a waste incineration plant and a cogeneration plant. The tests therefore involved both medium-voltage and low-voltage systems and the project partners have demonstrated that it is possible and important to make use of all flexibilities at all voltage levels for grid stabilisation.

“The retrievals from systems in the distribution network constitute a significant milestone for us, as they show that the concept is feasible and we are now able to gain initial experience in terms of practical suitability,” explains DA/RE project manager Florian Gutekunst from TransnetBW. The second stage of the pilot phase has thus begun. Further retrievals are now being carried out and various application cases are being tested. In concrete terms, the issue is how grid operators can trigger the retrieval of redispatch measures in a coordinated manner and how the information chain should be designed in order to guarantee all parties involved at all voltage levels complete transparency about the retrieval and the capacity provided. In the following third step, the retrievals are to be automated and the corresponding data paths implemented.

First retrievals of redispatch capacities have been carried out in the pilot phase of the DA/RE project (picture showing a scene from electricity trading: Next Kraftwerke)

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Tool for evaluating investments in storage facilities

19.06.2019

Wind and solar, the primary and volatile power sources of the energy transition, require more grid flexibility, which can be provided, for instance, by storage facilities. Energy storage technologies open opportunities for use in future energy markets and for a range of other system and grid-related purposes. For this reason, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is involved in many research initiatives on flexibility, e.g. to explore power-to-gas applications, electric vehicles and end-user participation in the energy system of the future.

TenneT has now introduced a new interactive assessment tool for storage investments, on which Tim Meyerjürgens, COO of TenneT, comments: “We want to support the electricity storage market. Storage facilities are an important source of flexibility for us to stabilise the grid. In the end, this can help to reduce the need for future grid extension.” Especially when it comes to questions concerning levies, charges or taxes as well as revenue opportunities, the TSO aims to assist market players and to create transparency.

This is why the tool, developed by TenneT in cooperation with Navigant Consulting, was specially designed for the economic evaluation of investments in grid-connected storage facilities. It compares technologies or types of financing and estimates maximum revenues based on an optimised use of storage units in different markets. The user can define individual key parameters or customise predefined projects to obtain a detailed breakdown of the results in terms of net present value and cash flow.

TenneT presents an interactive tool to evaluate investments in grid-connected storage facilities

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Connect+ for data exchange

14.06.2019

The four German transmission system operators (TSOs), the TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW, together with 16 distribution system operators (DSOs) have launched the “Connect+” project to jointly implement the legal requirements of the German Grid Expansion Acceleration Act (Netzausbaubeschleunigungsgesetz – NABEG). The project is a reaction to the increased need for coordination due to the current legislative amendments and intended to facilitate a more transparent exchange of data between grid operators and market participants.

German legislation has specified that, in future, all facilities for the generation or storage of electrical energy with a nominal capacity of 100kW or more must be utilised to prevent foreseeable bottlenecks in the grid. The modified conditions for redispatch apply from 1 October 2021. As the present feed-in management of the grid operators only reacts to acute congestions, an even more intensive cooperation between TSOs and DSOs is required in the future.

The new processes to be developed and introduced within the time frame pose a challenge for all grid operators. In the “Connect+” project, TSOs and DSOs want to develop uniform solutions for data distribution to harmonise data exchange between market participants and operators for congestion management. In a first step, essential specifications such as interfaces and formats are developed and defined.

The four German TSOs and 16 DSOs launch the data exchange project “Connect+” for congestion management

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

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ČEPS innovation projects

12.06.2019

As European transmission system operators (TSOs), the TSCNET shareholders must adapt to the changing energy landscape and find solutions for a successful sustainable energy future. The Czech TSO ČEPS is no exception to this rule and is actively involved in several innovation projects to respond to changes in the energy industry and to ensure the reliable operation of the Czech power system, as it was now pointed out by Karel Vinkler, director of the Innovation and R&D section of ČEPS. These projects include SecureFlex, MAFRI, Dflex, and BAART, which all are part of the national THÉTA program of the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic to support research in the energy sector.

With the SecureFlex project, ČEPS recognises power flexibility as one of the most important grid stabilisation tools of the future. SecureFlex focuses on developing analysis, calculation and optimisation tools as well as targeted studies that contribute to the secure use of power flexibility in the context of new technologies and market themes. The MAFRI project (Mid-term Adequacy Forecast – Regional Indicators) aims to identify new reliability criteria for the production-capacity-adequacy evaluation. The outcomes of the project can contribute to future decisions on infrastructure investments and restorations.

In the Dflex project, the feasibility of active participation of smaller power sources will be investigated to provide flexibility for the operation and control of the power system. Through aggregation and active decentralised control systems, these energy sources will then be used to stabilise the system. Finally, the BAART project is concerned with the gradual development of the BSAE technology (Battery System Accumulation of Energy) and its potential regarding power balancing. The main purpose of this project, in which a 4 MW battery in the Tušimice power plant is being used, is the development, adaptation and modification of BSAE power balance services and their practical verification.

“ČEPS has been active in the field of innovation, research and development for a long time. The need to innovate comes naturally from the fundamental changes of the present power industry environment,” comments Vinkler.

ČEPS is conducting several innovation projects to respond to changes in the energy industry (picture shows the Czech capital Prague, where the TSO has its headquarters)

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