DA/RE enters pilot phase


Following its launch in June 2018, the Baden-Württemberg grid security initiative “DA/RE” (“DAta exchange/REdispatch”) has entered the pilot phase on 1 April. The DA/RE initiators are 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 with the support of the State Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector. Meanwhile, several grid and facility operators are involved and actively participating in the pilot phase.

DA/RE responds to the increasing volatility and decentralisation of power generation. By utilising the flexibility potential of decentralised plants from lower grid levels, the entire electricity system is intended to be stabilised. Basically, DA/RE is an IT platform, through which grid operators can obtain information on flexibility potentials and coordinatedly retrieve them. In the trial phase, scheduled to last until the end of September 2019, two essential modules for data exchange and coordination between grid and facility operators are to be tested.

With its wide range of decentralised systems, DA/RE adequately represents the current market for flexibility. “Together we can thus test the processes with different DSOs up to medium voltage level and provide the further course of the project with valuable experience,” explains Florian Gutekunst, DA/RE project manager at TransnetBW.

The DA/RE initiative for grid security initiated by TransnetBW is entering the pilot phase

> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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ELES presents FutureFlow progress


The EU-funded FutureFlow project explores innovative e-trading solutions for smart cross-border balancing and redispatching in the control areas of four central-south European transmission system operators (TSOs), all shareholders of TSCNET. The project is coordinated by the Slovenian TSO ELES, the other TSO participants being APG from Austria, MAVIR from Hungary, and Transelectrica from Romania. In times of increasing regenerative energy generation and lack of flexibility services from conventional plants, the FutureFlow consortium considers the prosumer as a new source of flexibility for the transmission grid.

A cross-border pilot with 48MW of flexible power capacity in Austria, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia has already proven that the involvement of the prosumers can save regulating energy. In order to communicate these and other results, ELES representatives took the opportunity to promote FutureFlow during the “European Utility Week” in the Austrian capital of Vienna. At the introductory panel “Interoperable Platforms and Data Exchange for Energy Services” on 6 November, mag. Uroš Salobir, Director of the Strategic Innovation Department at ELES, explained with regard to the cross-border integration of the system service markets: “For automatic frequency control, the FutureFlow project offers 60% savings and up to 57% for redispatching.”

Eles promoted the FutureFlow project for smart cross-border balancing and redispatching on the “European Utility Week” in Vienna (picture based on screenshots taken from FutureFlow promotional video)

> See ELES press release (html)
> Visit FutureFlow website (html)
> Watch FutureFlow promotional video “Prosumers as guardians of the power system” (YouTube)

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“Siglinde” brings record feed-in


This week, the windstorm “Siglinde” has not only put the north of Germany to the test, but has also brought TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), a record feed-in of wind power as well as important insights. For the first time, 50Hertz has integrated more than 15,000MW of wind power securely into the grid, 15,382MW to be precise. This new record is roughly equivalent to the output of 15 large conventional power plant units.

However, this welcome development is accompanied by a downer: The transmission system under the responsibility of 50Hertz is reaching its limits and during the “Siglinde” storm, the TSO had to resort to redispatch measures and at times had more than 3,000MW of power output throttled and simultaneously increased in other grid areas. “We are now reaching dimensions that take network control with its current means to its limits,” explains Dr. Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz.

Without the “Südwest-Kuppelleitung”, a 380kV line from the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt via Thuringia to Bavaria (also known as “Thuringian Power Bridge”), which went into full operation in September 2017, the demand for redispatch would have been higher. Dr. Biermann comments: “Despite this additional transmission capacity and the massive interventions, all our lines to the south of Germany were operating at very high capacity.” This clearly illustrates that grid extension continues to lag behind the expansion of renewable energies. “We need additional instruments for safe system operation ‒ both in the grid as well as in the market,” appeals Dr. Biermann.

The windstorm “Siglinde” reveals the need to further increase transmission capacity in Germany

> See 50Hertz press release, in German (html)

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


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.

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

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ELES presents innovations at ENTSO-E conference


“Alpine Power Links”, this year’s regional conference of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) on 18 April 2018 in Basel, was dedicated to the Alpine region and its importance for the European integrated power system. TSCNET shareholder ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO), took the opportunity to present its activities in three different innovative energy and smart grid key projects at European level. In addition to ELES, three further shareholders of TSCNET participated in the event: APG from Austria, Swissgrid from Switzerland, and two of the four German TSOs, Amprion and TransnetBW.

Uroš Salobir, M.Sc., General Coordinator for System Development at ELES, emphasised the significance of the ELES projects in view of a European carbon-free future. The respective projects are: FutureFlow on innovative solutions for cross-border balancing and redispatching, the ELES coordinated smart grid cooperation SINCRO.GRID, which deploys, among other things, compensating devices and innovative data processing methods, and OSMOSE on improving transnational interoperability and the interaction of TSOs and distribution system operators in order to increase the techno-economic potential of flexibility solutions.

> See ELES press release (html)
> Open “Alpine Power Links” agenda (pdf, 540kb)

Picture: ELES / ENTSO-E

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E-mobility to promote grid stability


In times not only of increasing renewable feed-in but also of expanding e-mobility, maintaining the balance between electricity generation and consumption is becoming more and more challenging. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), has started another joint research project on possibilities of utilising electric cars for grid control. The partners are energy service provider The Mobility House and car manufacturer Nissan. In addition to technical solutions, the project members strive to develop and evaluate proposals for regulatory guidelines for vehicle-to-grid technologies.

The new project is a complementation to TenneT’s blockchain projects on flexible grid management. Its technical core is the bidirectional potential of car batteries. These store locally produced electricity, that could be fed back into the grid “for redispatch, in other words, to dispel transmission bottlenecks in the grid”, as Lex Hartman, member of TenneT’s executive board, puts it. Mr Hartman adds, that the new project is apt “to supplement the grid expansion and become an important building block for the energy transition”.

In a first phase of the project, Nissan’s electric vehicles will be used as mobile storage systems in TenneT’s German control areas to directly reduce local supply or demand overload. The vehicle-to-grid software developed by The Mobility House allows automated control of the charging and discharging processes. After successful testing and implementation, the bidirectional charging technology could be used throughout Germany.

> See TenneT press release (html)

Picture: TenneT

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EU proposal on capacity calculation criticised


With the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package, the European Commision pursues the goal of providing a stable legislative framework for a sustainable European energy future as well as a reliable bundle of regulations for the market players. In December 2017, the Council of the European Union adopted the General Approach on package-related pieces of legislation, including article 14 of the Regulation on the internal market for electricity, which comprises capacity calculation provisions. On 2 February, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has issued a critical statement on the Council proposal.

ENTSO-E fears that Article 14, if implemented, will put the well-functioning of the internal market and the secure operation of the power system at risk. In particular, ENTSO-E criticises the target value for cross-zonal trade that obliges transmission system operators (TSOs) to offer at least 75% of capacities on interconnectors. To achieve this target, the TSOs might have to perform significantly more redispatch measures. Instead of the Council’s approach, ENTSO-E considers regionally differentiated minimum capacity targets more appropriate. In addition, the targets should be based on economic and physical analysis and must allow TSOs to occasionally deviate in favour of system security. On the basis of careful considerations, ENTSO-E calls on policy-makers to rethink the provisions to the benefit of the European electricity market and the consumers.

TSCNET shareholder PSE, the Polish TSO, has released a similar statement already on 18 January. PSE also criticises the capacity calculation provisions of Article 14 and is apprehensive of a further separation of market and system operation as a possible result of the calculation rules. PSE has thoroughly analysed the complex matter and suggests, that the TSOs themselves should define capacity calculation details through research and design activities, supervised by the national regulatory authorities and the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER).


Picture: Jennifer Jacquemart / EC-Audiovisual Service

> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> See PSE press release, issued 18 January (html)

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German grid stabilising costs reach record high


The most persistent problem within the German electricity market remains its division: Wind power abounds in the north, while in the consumption centres in the south and west there is an imminent danger of electricity shortage. This regional split, a consequence of the energy transition, puts pressure on the national transmission grid. According to a report of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, which has met with a great response in the German press, the company’s cost for stabilisation measures in Germany amounted to over €1bn in 2017.

TenneT is responsible for the largest control area in Germany, extending from the most northern federal state of Schleswig-Holstein to Bavaria in the south. Without a sustainable extension of the German transmission system, the TSO does not see any possibility of noticeably reducing stabilisation costs and thus not placing an additional burden on electricity prices. Due to missing power lines to transmit green energy from north to south, expensive grid interventions and redispatch measures become necessary when power plants and wind farms in the north have to be shut down in case of high wind – otherwise more electricity would be produced than the grid can absorb. However, conventional reserve power plants have to be started at the same time in the south to meet the regional demand for electricity.

“More than ever, we have to stabilise the grid,” comments Lex Hartman (see picture), member of TenneT’s executive board. Until a sufficient transmission system is realised that meets the standards of the energy transition, Mr Hartman sees no near signs of improvement. Important projects in this regard are the extra-high voltage lines SuedLink and SuedOstLink, wich are joint ventures by TSCNET shareholders TenneT, TransnetBW, and 50Hertz. But these are projects of a more distant future, and thus Hartman’s forecast for the next few years is bleak: “It’s going to get even worse, before it gets better.”

> See article of the “Frankfurter Rundschau“, in German (html)

Image: TenneT


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Excellent review for FutureFlow


The EU funded FutureFlow project has been going on for quite some time, which is why the European Commission audited the progress and the achievements made so far. FutureFlow explores innovative methods of cross-border balancing and redispatching in the control areas of four central-south European transmission system operators (TSOs). The project is coordinated by TSC member ELES, the Slovenian TSO. Two other TSC members – the Austrian TSO APG and MAVIR from Hungary – are also part of the consortium.

The FutureFlow presentation focussed on the design of the future secondary regulation market, platform development, and possibilities of involving final consumers. Sebastien Mortier, Research Programme Manager at the European Commission, expressed his satisfaction with the results, and commended the consortium as a whole as well as the project coordination.

> See ELES press release (html)
> Visit FutureFlow website (html)

Picture: ELES


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Slovenian smart grid event


In order to eludicate its significance and its responsibility for the smart development of the energy sector in view of Slovenia’s Energy Concept (SEC), TSC member ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO), hosted a stakeholder event on smart grid concepts and their importance for the future power transmission system. The event was attended by high-profile representatives from energy related industries, associations, and institutions.

The renowned Croatian-Slovenian smart grid project SINCRO.GRID, a European Project of Common Interest (PCI), naturally played an important part in the course of the event. But ELES is also involved in further smart grid activities, such as the central-south European FutureFlow project on cross-border balancing and redispatching. The CEO of ELES, mag. Aleksander Mervar, emphasised in a round table discussion the challenges, but also the risks of smart grid concepts – since the technological developement ist still in progress and intense. Mr Mervar sees ELES at a technological breaking point and expects the necessary smart solutions to be functionable round 2030.

> See ELES press release (html)

Picture: ELES


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