Automobile batteries to stabilise the grid

07.02.2019

Automobile battery storage systems can be employed for system stabilisation and thus substitute large power plants. This is the encouraging result of a joint research project successfully conducted by the Daimler subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Energy and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The pilot was carried out in the Daimler battery test laboratory in Kamenz, a small Saxon town near Dresden, with funds from the innovation programme “Smart Energy Showcases. Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition” (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie. Digitale Agenda für die Energiewende” – SINTEG) initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The impetus for this research, as well as for other TenneT innovation projects, derives from the energy transition, which has brought about two decisive changes for the TSOs: the loss of reactive power due to the shutdown of large power plants and the volatility of renewable energy generation. Still, generation and consumption need to be balanced in the grid in order to maintain the 50Hz frequency. In this respect, vehicle-to-grid technologies are a promising approach to providing enough primary balancing power.

The prototype storage system installed in the laboratory is based on lithium-ion automobile batteries with a total connected load of approx. 1MW and a storage capacity of 750kWh. It is connected to a specifically constructed test grid. The test runs in Kamenz have shown that such battery storage systems are suitable for highly dynamic system support, since they respond to a frequency deviation in less than 100 milliseconds. They are also employable for system recovery, even for the start-up of entire power stations, e.g. after a major power failure. In this case, they can function as a kind of starter battery and restart the inert rotating masses of a power station. The project partners verified this by simulating a power failure in the test grid, which was restored afterwards with the automobile battery storage system.

TenneT and Mercedes-Benz Energy have conducted a research project on the use of automobile battery systems for grid stabilisation (illustration using a picture provided by Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH)

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APG study on targets for renewables

31.01.2019

A resilient electricity transmission grid is the most effective flexibility option for converting the energy system in the course of the energy transition. This is the result of a study conducted by the renowned consulting company “Energy Brainpool” on behalf of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO). The aim of the study is to identify possible effects of the restructuring of the energy system and concrete measures so that Austria can sufficiently contribute to the international climate agreement. According to “Mission 2030”, the Austrian energy and climate strategy, the national target in this respect is to cover 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030.

“A full focus on renewables is the only reasonable way,” states Gerhard Christiner, CTO at APG. “We fully support the political goals of the Austrian Federal Government.” Since the transformation of the energy system is a comprehensive project, it can only be realised with enormous effort of all parties involved. The new study shows that the expansion of renewables will lead to unprecedented volatility in power generation, which should best be countered with a strong transmission grid. The basic precondition for this is the rapid implementation of the existing grid extension plans.

“The APG grid development plan provides for an investment volume of more than two and a half billion euros over the next ten years to upgrade our infrastructure,” explains Thomas Karall, CFO at APG. That’s money well spent, for the results of the “Energy Brainpool” study show that, in principle, it is possible to achieve the targets set out in “Mission 2030″. But official approval procedures must be accelerated, because: “If we do not manage to extend the transmission grid on time, the energy system will reach its limits. Then it will not be possible to fully exploit the potential of renewable energies,” explains CTO Christiner.

Vienna-based APG presents the results of a study on the preconditions for the Austrian “Mission 2030” targets

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> See APG press release, in German (html)
> Open study “Austria’s way towards 100% renewables”, in German (pdf, 1.19MB)

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TSO-DSO platform for congestion management

30.01.2019

Grid operators in the Netherlands and throughout Europe are working intensively on expanding grid capacity, which is urgently needed in the wake of energy transition and economic growth. However, this cannot be achieved in the short term, but the use of flexible electricity from the market can help to avoid anticipated grid congestions. GOPACS (“Grid Operators Platform for Congestion Solutions”) is the name of a new technological tool developed in the Netherlands for this purpose. It is the result of a unique, active collaboration between four Dutch distribution system operators (DSOs) and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO).

GOPACS is not a market platform in its own right but uses orders on existing market platforms. And this is how it works: If congestion is foreseeable at some part of the grid, operators would like to see, for example, a reduction in production or an increase in consumption. Via GOPACS, an invitation to tender is sent to market participants concerned, who place an appropriate purchase order on a connected market platform. To avoid negative impacts on the balance of the national grid, the reduction of generation in the congestion area is combined with a contrary order from a market party outside this area. The price difference between the two orders is covered by the operators, the two orders are matched, and congestion is resolved.

The Dutch grid operators are currently looking for market players who want to participate and use their flexibility productively. Participation in GOPACS is interesting for any market party with the possibility to influence electricity consumption or generation and to provide this flexibility for trading.

Together with Dutch DSOs, TenneT has launched GOPACS, a smart platform for market players to solve grid congestions

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TenneT performs blockchain pilots successfully

29.01.2019

The energy transition demands digital transition – the number of renewable sources is increasing, while in the future there will be less and less conventional plants available to ensure the required flexibility and stability in the grid for which the transmission system operators (TSOs) are responsible. As such, the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT is constantly seeking new decentralised sources that can replace lost flexibility. In addition to wind and solar energy, these can include batteries, industrial plants or cogeneration. This is where digitisation comes in, because only through so-called “aggregator” and block chain technology the capacity and potential of all these sources can be combined and fully utilised.

TenneT has launched two pilot projects last year, one in the Netherlands and one in Germany, both employing blockchain technology. In the first case, e-vehicles and in the second case household batteries were used to balance the grid and avoid congestions. The blockchain application is an IBM development and the Dutch green electricity supplier Vandebron is the cooperation partner in the Netherlands. Vandebron provides battery capacity from e-car charging sessions at TenneT’s request. In this way, the TSO can draw on an additional electricity pool. In Germany, TenneT collaborates with Sonnen E-services, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Decentralised household batteries from Sonnen are integrated into the TenneT network via a blockchain and interconnected. Through the smart use of these batteries, Sonnen contributes to facilitating power transmission in Germany.

Since both blockchain tests were successful, TenneT and IBM have signed a contract for the further development of blockchain technology. The companies will intensify the implementation so that many more parties can gain access to the electricity market. Three new partners have already been won as additional “aggregators” to ensure improved matching of electricity supply and demand. TenneT CEO Manon van Beek explains that the TSO offers not only “a new way of integrating decentralised sources”, but also “private individuals a good opportunity to participate actively in the energy transition, making the energy transition more affordable together”.

TenneT has successfully conducted two blockchain research pilot projects (picture: Sonnen GmbH)

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MIGRATE and PROMOTioN workshop in Berlin

22.01.2019

The consortia of two innovative grid-related research projects funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme – MIGRATE and PROMOTioN – invite to their first joint workshop entitled “Technical challenges and recommendations for the future European power grid”. Both projects aim to maintain security of supply, grid stability and reliability in times of large scale renewable energy integration. The event takes place on 28 February 2019 at the Maritim Hotel near the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of the German capital of Berlin.

The MIGRATE project (“Massive InteGRATion of power Electronic devices”) comprises 23 partners from 13 European countries, including the transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders Amprion (Germany), ELES (Slovenia), and TenneT (Germany and the Netherlands). The aim of MIGRATE is to explore technology-based solutions for the current and future technological challenges to the transmission system, in particular by linking generation and consumption via power electronics.

The PROMOTioN project (“PROgress on Meshed HVDC Offshore Transmission Networks”) seeks to further develop innovative technologies relevant for the deployment of meshed offshore HVDC grids. Its specific objective is to improve the cooperation between grid operators and major suppliers for a technical architecture and interoperable technologies to accelerate HVDC grid development. As the largest energy project in Horizon, the consortium includes 33 partners from 11 countries, among them TenneT and further TSCNET shareholder Energinet, the Danish TSO.

The first joined workshop of the European research projects MIGRATE and PROMOTioN will be held in Berlin on 28 February

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>Visit MIGRATE or PROMOTioN website (html, both with access to event agenda and registration)

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APG and ENTSO-E comment on frequency drop

16.01.2019

Last Thursday, 10 January 2019, at around 9 p.m., a deviation from the 50Hz mid-frequency to 49.8Hz was registered in the Continental European (CE) Power System which comprises the synchronised transmission grids of 25 countries. As foreseen in such cases, immediate collective actions have been taken by the transmission system operators (TSOs) of the CE Regional Group and the underfrequency was rectified within a few seconds. The incident was clearly sufficient to alert the TSOs, but at no time did it jeopardise the European security of supply.

Nevertheless, there have been reports in some Austrian media about a potential interruption of the European electricity supply, comparable to the event of November 2006, when ten million households in France were disconnected from the grid as a precautionary measure. These press reports have provoked reactions from TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), who both stated that the comprehensive technical analysis is still pending but that there was no risk of a major power failure at any time.

APG has already made initial statements on the incident. According to APG, the cause was most likely a combination of several circumstances, but the decisive factor was probably a data error at another TSO at a transfer point on the Austro-German border. This occurrence could not be compared with that of 2006, when line overload was the reason.

APG and ENTSO-E respond to press reports on the frequency drop in the CE power system and confirm permanent security of supply

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html)

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Successful tests for the HeatFlex project

15.01.2019

Volatile and decentralised energy generation is an essential characteristic of the energy future. What is at first an evident risk to grid stability, could also prove to be an opportunity for smart and flexible grid management, since small and decentralised consumption devices, if actively involved, could even help to stabilise the grid. In order to explore this potential, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and the southern German distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk Netz GmbH have launched HeatFlex last summer, a research project to increase the flexibility and stability of the entire transmission system.

TenneT and Bayernwerk jointly investigate how decentralised devices can be involved most effectively. The power users that HeatFlex is concerned with are, for example, electric storage heaters, heat pumps, water heaters and potentially also electric vehicles in the Bayernwerk area. They can be controlled by the DSO using ripple control. If a bottleneck in the transmission grid is to be expected, for instance due to a lot of wind power, decentralised consumption devices are used for grid control: At TenneT’s request, they will be triggered by Bayernwerk and then cease consuming too much electricity but instead supply the grid with the necessary electricity for stabilisation.

There are over 170,000 decentralised controllable devices with a total capacity of around 200MW in the Bayernwerk distribution area. A first test in summer already proved the technical feasibility of HeatFlex in cases of real bottleneck situations. It turned out that the communication between the control centres of both operators worked quickly and efficiently. “With this project, we are testing solutions for tomorrow already today. HeatFlex is one of the pilot projects with which we are investigating which decentralised flexibilities we can use in the future to stabilise the grid. These include, for example, projects with power-to-gas, with bidirectionally chargeable electric vehicles or with home storage and blockchain technology,” explains TenneT Managing Director Wilfried Breuer.

HeatFlex, the joint research project of TenneT and Bayernwerk on flexible grid control, is making progress (picture: Bayernwerk AG)

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TenneT to build compensatory gas power plant

10.01.2019

The successive shutdown of nuclear or emission-intensive large-scale power plants is an integral part of the energy transition in Germany. In order not to compromise the national energy supply security, the German legislator provides for special grid facilities that should not serve the market constantly but be available as a “safety buffer” on short notice and at any time when the power system reliability is at risk. TSCNET shareholder TenneT is facing up to this task of the energy future and plans to commission such a special grid facility in the form of a 300MW gas power plant on the site of the Irsching substation near Ingolstadt in the German state of Bavaria.

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) now has awarded the contract for the construction and operation of the plant to the energy company Uniper. Probably from 1 October 2022, the power plant will be on stand-by to serve as a “safety cushion” by supplying power in emergency cases. The new gas power plant can be immediately activated in order to maintain transmission system safety and the current level of reliability of the electricity supply also in the future.

From the end of June 2018, TenneT, together with the German TSOs Amprion and TransnetBW, has put out to tender a total of 1,200MW of capacity for special grid facilities Europe-wide and non-technology-specific. The tender covers four regions in southern Germany, each with a capacity of 300MW. For one of these regions, in this case southern Bavaria, TenneT has now awarded the first special grid facility contract.

TenneT has awarded a contract for a compensatory gas power plant at the Irsching substation (picture: Uniper SE) 

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Transformer for TenneT’s hybrid Statcom facility

01.01.2019

Right on time for Christmas 2018, a heavy-duty train loaded with a 299-tonne transformer built by ABB reached the Borken substation operated by TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). Here at the long-established substation site in Borken in the German state of Hesse, practically in the middle of the German power system, the TSO is currently building the first German hybrid static synchronous compensator system (Statcom). In order to efficiently connect the Statcom system, which will later be operated at 40kV, to the existing extra-high voltage grid, a so-called impedance matching transformer is required.

The hybrid Statcom facility will provide reactive power as compensation for the declining capacities previously provided by large power plants, which are now being successively taken off the grid in the course of the energy transition. In the three-phase transmission system, the reactive power must be in balance with the active power in order to maintain the grid’s voltage at the required level. That is why reactive power compensation is a priority task for the German TSOs.

On the morning of 8 January 2019, the foundations of the transformer will be laid in front of the Statcom plant which is currently under construction. It will then take around three months before the matching transformer is operational. The entire Statcom system is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2019. In Borken, TenneT is investing around €30m in future-proof grid operation. Germany’s first hybrid Statcom system will then not only contribute to dynamic voltage stabilisation, but the entire Borken substation will also become one of the most modern hubs for green power in the TenneT grid.

TenneT has been supplied with a matching HDVC transformer for its hybrid Statcom facility at the Borken substation (picture: ABB)

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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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