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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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Visit site for free tool download with detailed instruction manual, in German (html)

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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)
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> 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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> See ČEPS press release (html)

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AI for decentralised grid stabilisation

06.06.2019

In a sustainable energy future, small decentralised plants such as combined heat and power (CHP) plants, heat pumps or biogas units must assume the role of stabilising the transmission system, a task which is nowadays mainly performed by large, centralised power plants. To investigate the technical feasibility of decentralised stabilisation options, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), the distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk and Consolinno Energy GmbH have now jointly carried out a successful test in the southern part of the TenneT control area, the German federal state of Bavaria.

Since there is a vital public interest in such future-oriented technological solutions, the test was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in the framework of the research project “C/Sells” which is part of the innovation programme “Smart Energy Showcases. Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition” (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie. Digitale Agenda für die Energiewende” – SINTEG). During the test, at the request of TenneT, the feed-in of a CHP plant controlled by Consolinno and connected to the low and medium-voltage grid of Bayernwerk was increased in order to provide the grid with the electricity required for stabilisation in the event of a bottleneck.

What is new is that each plant autonomously determines its flexibility potential through artificial intelligence (AI). The respective potential of the individual plants can then be further aggregated by means of swarm intelligence. The plants are in normal marketing and operation mode and report free flexibility quantities to the grid operators. “In Bavaria alone there are several thousand CHP plants, heat pumps and biogas facilities, nationwide there are many thousands more. They can increase the flexibility of the energy system and thus contribute to a safe and decentralised energy system in Bavaria and Germany. David can thus become Goliath,” comments Tim Meyerjürgens, COO at TenneT. Also in several other cooperative pilot projects, the TSO is exploring the potential of decentralised flexibility.

TenneT has carried out a successful test on the deployment of small decentralised plants for grid stabilisation

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> See TenneT press release, in German (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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ENTSO-E report on frequency drop

29.05.2019

On Thursday, 10 January 2019, shortly after 9 p.m., a deviation from the 50Hz mid-frequency was registered in the Continental European (CE) power system, which comprises the synchronised transmission grids of 26 countries. The deviation lasted 9 seconds and, with a drop to 49.808Hz, was the largest absolute frequency deviation since the so-called “European Blackout 2006”, when the frequency reached 49.0Hz.

Thanks to immediate collective action by the transmission system operators (TSOs) of the CE Regional Group the underfrequency was quickly rectified and the European security of supply was not compromised at any moment. In concrete terms, the activation of CE reserves and of interruptible contracts with French industrial customers returned the situation to normal. To identify the root causes of the incident, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) undertook in-depth investigations and has now released a detailed and transparent technical analysis.

According to this report, the large drop was caused by the superposition of two factors. A significant deterministic frequency deviation (DFD) during the evening peak load encountered another, unpredicted one, registered between 9 and 11 January and caused by a technical error resulting from a frozen measurement on four connecting lines between Austria and Germany. The cumulative effect of the permanent frequency deviation from 9 to 11 January and the significant evening DFD on 10 January led to the frequency loss in the interconnected CE system.

The ENTSO-E technical report indicates that solutions for DFDs in the CE region need to be found. DFDs have been observed for years, but are now becoming more common and are of greater amplitude due to imbalances between generation and demand. Possible solutions to DFDs may require a change in operating and/or market rules. ENTSO-E will make further enquiries in close dialogue with all interested parties.

ENTSO-E has released an in-depth report on the frequency drop in the CE power system from January 2019 (illustration: ENTSO-E)

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> Open ENTSO-E report (pdf, 2.65Mb)

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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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High potential of blockchained home storage systems

09.05.2019

Maintaining the balance of the transmission system despite volatility of renewables and lack of conventional operating reserves is an essential future concern of European transmission system operators (TSOs). In search of adequate balancing solutions, a worldwide unique pilot project for the blockchain-based networking of home storage systems was launched in 2017. The cooperation partners are TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, and sonnen, a company specialised in smart power storage. The promisingly completed pilot demonstrates the potential of blockchain technology to become a key application for the efficient provision of network stabilising measures.

The aim of the pilot was to test the suitability of blockchained storage systems for preventing emergency measures in the event of bottlenecks, e. g. the throttling of wind farms. To this end, TenneT deployed a virtual power station comprising of home storage systems specially provided by sonnen with a blockchain solution by IBM. The intelligent charge management of the battery storage systems adapted itself individually to the respective situation in the TenneT grid, whereby the batteries absorb or release excess current within seconds if required.

Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the succesful project: “We’ve shown for the first time how it’s technically feasible to utilise blockchain technology so households can stabilise the power grid via their home storage systems.” Actually, the results are so promising that TenneT intends to undertake further blockchain programmes, especially as by 2030 there could already be decentralised battery storage facilities in Germany with a total capacity of up to 10,000MW.

A pilot project by TenneT on blockchained home storage systems for grid stabilisation has proven the high potential of this technological approach (picture: edited screenshot taken from sonnen video “The largest virtual battery to compensate for fluctuations in the power grid”, YouTube)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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Significant progress for ALEGrO

03.05.2019

October 2018 saw the start of construction of ALEGrO, the “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay”, which is the first direct interconnector of the German and Belgian electricity grids. With a transmission capacity of 1,000MW, ALEGrO will increase cross-border electricity flows and, at the same time, supply security in the western German region of Aachen-Cologne. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is realised jointly by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and the Belgian TSO Elia. Only a few months after the start, Amprion can already report some great strides in the construction work.

Underground cabling is used for the entire ALEGrO route (approx. 49km in Belgium and 41km in Germany) and two new converters are being installed at each end of ALEGrO at the substations Oberzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium. The coordination effort for the German-Belgian power bridge, which crosses numerous roads, waters or forests, is considerable: Explosive ordnance clearance and the demolition of remnants of world war bunkers are daily business, but of course archaeological investigations and nature conservation are also part of today’s construction standard.

Several teams are working simultaneously at different points along the route in Germany, laying cable conduits into which the conductor cables will later be drawn. 5km of the conduit system have already been completed and 25km are currently under construction. At the Oberzier substation, a hall is currently being erected to house the converter technology. Work is also proceeding well in Belgium, and according to current planning ALEGrO should be operational by the end of 2020.

Amprion is making good progress with the construction of ALEGrO (picture: screenshot taken from video “Elia ALEGrO Project – Reportage”, Elia, YouTube)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Billions for the Austrian electricity infrastructure

12.04.2019

The electricity transmission system of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) is increasingly reaching its limits due to the restructuring of the energy system, notably through the integration of renewable energies. As a result, TSO interventions for grid stability and security of supply are currently causing monthly costs of €10m for Austrian electricity customers. APG is determined to respond with an even faster expansion of its high-voltage grid.

The recently granted official approval for the construction of the 380kV Salzburg Line (“Salzburgleitung”) is only the beginning of fulfilling the “#mission 2030”, the Austrian energy and climate strategy that sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030. APG has announced the “Austrian Electricity Infrastructure Billion” for further major projects to sustainably secure Austria’s power supply – the largest investment offensive to date into the Austrian transmission grid with a total of €2.5 bn over the next 10 years.

In addition to the Salzburg Line, there are two other large-scale projects: The expansion of the existing grid in the greater Linz Area and beyond (Project “Upper Austria Central Region”) and the replacement of the overhead line through the Weinviertel (“wine quarter”) in the northeast of Lower Austria. For the volatility management that will become more and more necessary in the future, APG is also pursuing innovation projects focusing on central topics like battery storage, digital substations or sector coupling.

“Full focus on renewables is the only sensible way,” explain Gerhard Christiner and Thomas Karall, CTO and CFO of APG respectively. However, they also emphasise that a strong transmission system is the precondition for the full integration of renewables, the decarbonisation targets of the industry, the full utilisation of the pumped storage potential in the Alps and the reduction of costs for grid-stabilising emergency measures.

APG launches billion-euro investment strategy for infrastructure (picture: screenshot taken from video “Wind braucht starke Netze”, APG/YouTube)

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> See APG press release, in German (html)

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