Substantial EU funding for Harmony Link

02.10.2020

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is an important financial instrument of the EU to support targeted infrastructure investments at European level. On 1 October 2020, the coordination committee of the CEF decided to allocate €719.7m for investment in electricity transmission infrastructure in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The granting follows an application for funding submitted at the end of May this year by the national transmission system operators (TSOs) of the three Baltic States and by PSE, the Polish TSCNET shareholder.

Harmony Link, which is to be the second interconnector between Poland and Lithuania, particularly benefits: €493m will be directly allocated to the project. Further funding is intended for the upgrading of infrastructure required for the integration of Harmony Link and for the installation of synchronous compensators in the Baltic States.

The first Polish-Lithuanian interconnector is LitPol link, an overhead line connecting the PSE substation in Elk and the Lithuanian Alytus substation, which has been in operation since 2016. Harmony Link is implemented in a different technical way, as a high voltage direct current (HVDC) submarine cable bypassing the Curonian Lagoon and the Gdańsk Bay. The new Polish-Lithuanian interconnector is crucial to enable the synchronisation of the Baltic electricity area with the Continental European (CE) area – an important objective in the framework of the European Energy Union to create a common European electricity market. It will also support regional and supra-regional supply security.

The EU is funding the Polish and Baltic electricity infrastructure with €719.7m through the CEF Energy programme (picture of Gdańsk Bay seen from Gdynia: NAC on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

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> See PSE press release (html)

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ALEGrO on the final straight

17.09.2020

Lichtenbusch near the westernmost German city of Aachen is located directly on the border between Germany and Belgium and is divided into a Belgian and a German part. Right here, on 16 September 2020, the final joint of the “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay” (ALEGrO) was installed by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and its Belgian partner TSO Elia. Over a distance of 90 kilometres, the DC interconnector with a transmission capacity of 1,000MW connects the Oberzier substation in the German Rhineland region with the Elia substation in Lixhe in the Walloon province of Liège. ALEGrO is the first direct link between the Belgian and German electricity grids and was realised over its entire length by means of underground cables.

The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) provides much needed grid capacity for cross-border electricity flows, while strengthening security of supply in the German region of Aachen-Cologne and the Belgian province of Liège. The cable laying work for ALEGrO started in October 2018 and after twenty months of construction, the civil engineering work was concluded in June 2020. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, ALEGrO is thus on schedule and nearing completion. The binational power bridge will go into technical operation in October 2020 and will be available to the European electricity market from mid-November. The technical integration of the DC cable into the three-phase grid is a step by step process. The same applies to the parallel market integration. Here, day-ahead capacities are offered first followed by intraday capacities. The allocation of long-term capacities will start in early 2021.

Amprion and Elia installed the final link of the ALEGrO interconnector, which will go into technical operation soon (picture of the project managers Ingo Sander, Amprion, and Dirk Wellens, Elia: Amprion)

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> See Amprion press release (html)

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Delay for Interim Coupling

11.09.2020

To introduce single day-ahead coupling in a total of 23 European countries, the so-called 4M Market Coupling Countries (4M MC) – Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia – are to be connected to the Europe-wide Multi Regional Coupling (MRC) of the electricity market. The initiative to implement the MRC extension is the DE-AT-PL-4M project, also referred to as “Interim Coupling Project”. It aims to establish implicit capacity allocation based on Net Transfer Capacity (NTC) at six borders: PL-DE, PL-CZ, PL-SK, CZ-DE, CZ-AT, and HU-AT. The TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, APG, ČEPS, MAVIR, PSE, SEPS, TenneT, and Transelectrica – transmission system operators (TSOs) from Austria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia – participate in Interim Coupling.

After the project had completed the design phase and entered the implementation phase at the end of 2019, Interim Coupling was actually supposed to start in September 2020. The TSOs and Nominated Electricity Market Operators (NEMOs) involved have now announced that the kick-off must be postponed. This is due to several project parties experiencing local implementation bottlenecks in the first quarter of 2020 because of interrelations between ongoing parallel projects. This led to a delay of several months in the implementation activities for Interim Coupling. National regulatory authorities have asked the European Commission to provide guidance on how to proceed with this project. Market players will be informed as soon as possible about the next steps.

The start of the AT-PL-4M MC project has been postponed

Linkup
> See MAVIR press release, html
> See PSE press release, html
> See SEPS press release, html
> Open AT-PL-4M MC information paper provided by Transelectrica (pdf, 262.12kB)

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First successful device installation within FARCROSS

28.08.2020

The FARCROSS (FAcilitating Regional CROSS-border Electricity Transmission through Innovation) project, which started in October 2019, is a four-year project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme. The objective of FARCROSS is to find solutions for increased regional cross-border cooperation in electricity transmission. The connection of regional key players in the energy value chain and the introduction of integrated hardware and software solutions are intended to tap additional resources for cross-border electricity flows. The FARCROSS consortium of 31 partners includes the transmission system operators (TSOs) from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Greece together with the TSCNET shareholders APG (Austria), Hops (Croatia), MAVIR (Hungary), and Transelectrica (Romania).

The three demonstration areas of FARCROSS are smart grid innovations, the development of regional system operations platforms to allow improved system operation forecasting on TSO level, and the optimisation of capacity allocation for regional cross-border trading. The technical grid solutions involve special line monitoring sensors, which are based on the Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) technology for real time overhead line monitoring. These sensors enable TSOs to optimise the utilisation of their transmission lines. The installation of DLR sensors is intended for four countries, and the Croatian TSO HOPS was the first to install such devices on the 220kV Senj-Melina transmission line a month ago. Since then, the sensors have been operating smoothly and the HOPS team of experts is pleased to have taken the first step towards the ambitious FARCROSS goals.

As part of the FARCROSS project, HOPS has installed monitoring sensors on the Senj-Melina overhead line to improve capacity utilisation (illustration using pictures by HOPS and FARCROSS H2020)

Linkup
> See HOPS press release, in Croatian (html)
> Visit FARCROSS website (html)

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Way is paved for 400kV line in western Romania

29.07.2020

For more than ten years, the completion of the 400kV Oradea-Békéscsaba overhead line in the far west of Romania has been prevented due to unresolved ownership issues regarding the section Oradea South-Nădab. Because of this, the line could only partially be put into operation, that is between the Romanian town Nădab and the Hungarian town Békéscsaba, near the Romanian-Hungarian border. Now the property situation has been clarified and the Romanian transmission system operator (TSO) and TSCNET shareholder Transelectrica was able to award the building contract for the missing section.

Transelectrica expects the construction work to be completed within twelve months. The commissioning of the last 72-kilometre section and thus the completion of the Oradea-Békéscsaba overhead line will contribute to the closure of the “400kV Ring” in the west of Romania. This project is a priority energy target for Romania, which will significantly improve the operational reliability of the national transmission system and security of electricity supply in the north-west of the country. The new Oradea-Békéscsaba line will also enable Transelectrica to eliminate congestions and thus save considerable costs for grid interventions. Finally, Romania’s interconnection capacity will be increased by 100MW in export and 300MW in import direction, which will not only contribute to compliance with EU regulations, but also make a sustainable contribution to the integration of the European electricity market.

Transelectrica has awarded the building contracts for the last section of the 400kV Oradea-Békéscsaba overhead line (picture of Oradea: Marculescu Eugen Iancu, Creative Commons)

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> See Transelectrica press release, in Romanian (pdf, 191.kb)

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TSOs of the Central SOR submit RCC proposal

29.07.2020

The EU Regulation on the internal electricity market (2019/943) calls for a higher degree of coordination between transmission system operators (TSOs) at regional level. This is to be achieved through the establishment of Regional Coordination Centres (RCCs). Regulation 2019/943 provides that the future RCCs will act more autonomously in terms of risk prevention than the current Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) like the Munich based TSCNET Services. On 6 April 2020, the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) published a decision on the geographical scope of the RCCs (ACER Decision 10/2020) and defined the so-called System Operation Regions (SORs). The TSOs of each SOR were invited to submit a proposal on the establishment of RCCs to the relevant national regulatory authorities (NRAs).

The 19 TSOs of the Central SOR – including all TSCNET shareholders except the non-EU TSO Swissgrid from Switzerland and also three TSCNET customers – now have submitted their joint proposal for the RCC establishment in accordance with Article 35 of Regulation (EU) 2019/943. It was published by the German Federal Network Agency (“Bundesnetzagentur“).  The TSOs’ suggestion is to develop existing RSCs into RCCs by adapting them to comply with the requirements of the EU Regulation. The TSOs are of the opinion that despite their increased autonomy, the future RCCs should have their grid stability measures confirmed by the TSOs. The respective TSOs concerned should be able to carry out reviews where appropriate and to oppose RCC measures on well-founded reasons. This requires an intensive exchange of information between RCCs and TSOs.

The paper proposes working agreements and service contracts as basis for the TSO-RCC cooperation. The core tasks of the RCCs should remain those of the RSCs, such as security analysis, outage planning coordination, capacity calculation, adequacy forecasts, or grid modelling. In addition, the RCCs should assist TSOs in identifying transmission system extension and modernisation priorities. RCCs should also be involved in assessing the extent to which foreign capacity may participate in national capacity mechanisms. A proposal from the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E), which is still pending, shall define which tasks the RCCs will perform in determining regional reserve capacity and in the regional procurement of balancing power.

The 19 TSOs of the Central SOR have published a joint proposal on the establishment of RCCs (picture: ENTSO-E)

Linkup
> Open Joint TSO proposal, in German (pdf, 535kb)
> Open ACER decision 10/2020 (pdf, 267.6kb)
> Access to EU-Regulation 2019/943 (html)

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New Local Implementation Project under SIDC

09.07.2020

European transmission system operators (TSOs) are committed to the European Energy Union by collectively working towards an integrated European electricity market. A key component for market integration is cross-border Single Intraday Coupling (SIDC), which was introduced as XBID in June 2018. SIDC is designed to increase the overall efficiency of intraday trading through effective competition, increased liquidity, and more efficient use of generation resources. Currently, the markets of 22 countries are coupled through SIDC: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. With the inclusion of the Slovakian Nominated Electricity Market Operator (NEMO) OKTE and TSCNET shareholder SEPS, the TSO from Bratislava, the project also extends to Slovakia.

Within the framework structure of the SIDC, Local Implementation Projects (LIPs) provide for the expansion of the market coupling, and a new project has now been established as LIP 17. The NEMOs and TSOs from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia – the TSCNET shareholders ČEPS, MAVIR, PSE, and SEPS – have proposed to implement SIDC across the borders between Slovakia-Czechia, Slovakia-Hungary, and Slovakia-Poland. The SIDC Steering Committee approved on 7 July and the LIP 17 roadmap will now be elaborated in more detail.

The SIDC solution comprises a common IT system with a shared order book, a capacity management module, and a shipping module. In addition to the TSOs mentioned above, the TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, APG, ELES, HOPS, TenneT, Transelectrica, and TransnetBW as well as the TSCNET customers Creos from Luxembourg and Energinet from Denmark are also part of SIDC.

A new LIP for the introduction of intraday trading across the borders of Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia has been established under SIDC

Linkup
> See MAVIR press release (html)
> See PSE press release (html)
> See SEPS press release (html)

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Successful start of FCR auctions

01.07.2020

The cooperation on regional procurement and exchange of frequency containment reserve (FCR) is a voluntary initiative of eight transmission system operators (TSOs): the six TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, and TransnetBW from Germany, APG from Austria, Swissgrid from Switzerland, and the Dutch-German TSO TenneT, as well as Elia from Belgium and the French TSO RTE. The FCR project is the first regional cooperation for a common market based on the methodology for the exchange of control reserves set out in the EU Guideline on Electricity Balancing. Within the scope of a cooperation model with Amprion, the Luxembourg TSCNET customer Creos is also involved.

The next milestone in the development of the largest European market for primary balancing power reserve has now been reached, as the first D-1 auction for FCR with 4-hour products was successfully conducted on 30 June 2020. This means, the FCR cooperation reduces the product length from one day to four hours and thus the market for primary balancing power is brought closer to real time.

Due to stronger competition between service providers and technologies, the joint auction allows TSOs to procure FCRs at minimum cost to end-users while offering a large common market for all providers of balancing services. It also increases the market attractiveness for short-term flexibility, limits price volatility and improves the security of grid operation by executing cross zonal procurement of FCR. The FCR market, already the largest in Europe, will be extended to western Denmark and Slovenia in the first quarter of 2021, so that with Energinet and ELES two further TSCNET shareholders will broaden the project.

The FCR cooperation successfully conducted the first D-1 auction for FCR with 4-hour products 

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> See Swissgrid news release (html)

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Eurobar for offshore integration

24.06.2020

Those involved in European electricity transmission have clearly understood that the common climate targets up to 2050 call for suitable and forward-looking concepts already today. Although the control area of TSCNET shareholder Amprion is not directly bordering a seashore, the German transmission system operator (TSO) shares nonetheless responsibility for transporting green electricity generated offshore to the consumption centres. Amprion thinks in a pan-European dimension and has developed a concept to integrate offshore electricity into the European power grid in a way that makes an optimal contribution to the European climate goals: The European Offshore Busbar (Eurobar) responds to the fact that the North Sea countries alone want to exploit an offshore potential of around 200GW by 2050.

The concept provides for the new generation of offshore facilities in the North Sea to be designed for connection to an offshore grid already during the early planning stage. Later, they can be gradually interconnected – first at national level and then between the North Sea countries. Through this integration, wind power can be transported flexibly and across borders to where it is needed, thus increasing efficiency and reducing costs as well as the need for additional grid expansion onshore. Dr Hans-Jürgen Brick, CEO of Amprion, emphasises the key role of the trans-European integration of offshore wind power for the future climate-neutral energy system: “Eurobar aims to make a constructive contribution to European plans for offshore development.”

Amprion has benefited from the advantages of an integrated power system for many decades and now, with Eurobar, intends to transfer this integration concept to the offshore grid to create an overall system for onshore and offshore energy. “Eurobar will intensify European collaboration in offshore development,” believes Dr Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion. Peter Rüth, the CFO of the TSO, adds: “Eurobar is designed as a partnership.” Consequently, the implementation can be carried out by the respective partners, be it states or grid operators, autonomously. The only condition is, that the technical standards yet to be developed are applied when installing future offshore systems. “We will now be working together with our partners in industry and among network operators on resolving the technical issues and advocating standardisation on a European level,” concludes Rüth.

Amprion has presented the Eurobar concept for integrating European offshore systems (picture: Amprion)

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> See Amprion press release (html)
> Open Eurobar presentation (pdf, 829.2kB)

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New IT tools for Europe-wide supply security

08.06.2020

The digitisation of grid operation is constantly increasing and requires continuous optimisation, e.g. in terms of outage planning coordination and adequacy analysis – both aspects are integral parts of the Annual Work Programme 2020 of the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E). Two new IT tools to simplify the cooperation of transmission system operators (TSOs) and allow better anticipation of the balance between supply and demand are available since this spring and currently used by a total of 38 TSOs. Under the coordination of ENTSO-E, the “Outage Planning Coordination (OPC) Pan European Merge Tool” and “Short Term Adequacy forecast (STA) tool” have been developed jointly with the Munich based Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) TSCNET Services playing a leading role in the development of OPC.

Tahir Kapetanovic, Head of the Control Centre of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, and Chairman of the ENTSO-E System Operation Committee, comments on the latest success: “The cross-border coordination and intensive cooperation of all national TSOs are the preconditions for a smooth functioning of the power supply across the European Union. By means of such jointly developed tools, uniform norms and standards for network operation can truly be implemented into practice.”

The launching of both tools may be considered as further evidence of the well-established pan-European cooperation of European TSOs and RSCs. STA enables a short to medium-term prognosis for load management, which is particularly important in view of the energy transition to compensate for the volatility of renewable power generation with innovative solutions and to integrate them smartly into the system. With the OPC Pan European Merge Tool, concept originally developed by TSCNET Services, the TSOs and RSCs can plan power outages on a regional level, including coordination of maintenance and inspections. Electricity supply and trade are thus ensured despite the necessary shutdowns.

The need for OPC on a pan-European level across the different RSCs and the corresponding concept of a harmonised outage planning process dates back to 2012, when the TSOs of the central and eastern European regions established the TSC (TSO Security Cooperation) area. The Medium-Long-Term Operational Planning (MLTOP) project of the TSC TSOs, which was started at that time, is the origin of the OPC tool. When TSCNET Services emerged in 2015 from the joint TSC TSO office in Munich, the MLTOP project was carried on by TSCNET for prototype and business process development in coordination with the TSC TSOs. In the same year, ENTSO-E launched the TSO Project for Coordination Strategy Implementation with the Regional Security Coordination Initiatives (RSCIs), which was continued later under the EU System Operation Guideline (SO GL). This extended the scope of the MLTOP project from the TSC area to the whole of Europe and it became the foundation of the OPC project.

In December 2017, the prototype resulting from the OPC project, owned and developed by TSCNET, went live on a pan-European scale and provided the initial service to all TSOs and RSCs in Europe. Now the prototype tool has been converted into and replaced by a fully-fledged industrial tool: the OPC Pan European Merge Tool, whose development represents a unique success story for TSCNET services and the associated TSOs. What was once an idea for cooperation in the TSC area has been further developed and prototyped by TSCNET in close cooperation with the TSOs and has now evolved into an industrialised pan-European tool used by the outage planners of 38 TSOs and four other RSCs.

TSCNET Services as a major contributor
The OPC project and its development process is a good example of what can be achieved through intensive cooperation between TSOs and RSCs. TSCNET successfully took the lead in this cooperative effort and managed not only to develop services on a pan-European level, but also to successfully coordinate with other stakeholders (RSCs, TSOs and ENTSO-E) and convince them to be part of the success. The development of the OPC project fits perfectly with the narrative of the definition of TSO, RSC and European coordination: The RSCs provide services to TSOs by setting up business processes and tools with their unique regional and technical expertise, thereby combining the knowledge of the individual TSOs – and if the concept has proven to work, they scale it up for the rest of Europe and centralise the infrastructure if necessary (and requested by ENTSO-E).

TSCNET is indebted to its Service Analytics & Quality Manager and responsible OPC Project Convener, Jayaram Anandha, to Sonja Tomić, Junior Operations Manager, and Jorge Alves, Operations Manager, for their input in the development of this highly efficient tool. The predecessor as OPC Project Convener, Tin Bobetko, and Michalis Stamoulis jointly led the business and data standard development of the OPC prototype tool, which was running perfectly until the industrialised version went live.

Two new IT tools for TSO cooperation, one of which developed by TSCNET, have been introduced and improve European supply security 

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> See APG press release (html)

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