Excellent supply reliability in Germany thanks to TSO efforts

11.09.2020

Given the increasing requirements for the transmission grids in the new energy landscape, a high degree of security of electricity supply can only be maintained with considerable effort on the part of the transmission system operators (TSOs) – in Germany and everywhere else. The four German TSOs and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW are as aware of this just as their European colleagues. What they also recognise is that grid extension enhances security of supply, reduces the need for TSO interventions and thus also the costs for congestion management, mainly caused by redispatch. This is also confirmed by independent sources, in this case, the statistics on German supply security in 2019 by the Forum Network Technology / Network Operation (FNN) within the German Association for Electrical Engineering, Electronics, and Information Technology (VDE – Verband der Elektrotechnik, Elektronik und Informationstechnik) – one of Europe’s largest technical-scientific associations with corporate and institutional members.

According to VDE FNN, the power supply in Germany has not only become more sustainable and climate-friendly but has also remained exceptionally reliable – thanks above all to the round-the-clock commitment of the grid operators. The new 2019 disruption and availability statistics prove that the high expenditure in grid operation is successful: Calculated over the entire country, an electricity customer was without electricity for only 12.0 minutes on average in 2019 (2018: 13.3 minutes). This means that every household was supplied with more than 99.997%. To achieve this, TSOs make an enormous effort. They operate the grids within the permissible limits of frequency, voltage, and load although operational requirements are growing due to the energy transition and, among other things, the resulting need to transmit electricity over long distances. Since grid expansion is not progressing as fast as the growth in renewables, grid bottlenecks are increasingly emerging, which the TSOs must resolve.

The effectiveness of grid expansion in Germany is particularly evident from one example in the VDE FNN statistics: The completion of the “Südwest-Kuppelleitung” (aka “Thuringian Power Bridge”) on all three sections in the 50Hertz control area in September 2017 has led to a significant reduction in TSO measures since 2018 and consequently to lower costs for redispatch and compensation – a fact that 50Hertz itself has clearly pointed out in 2019.

The Forum Network Technology / Network Operation has published its disruption and availability statistics (picture of the “Südwest-Kuppelleitung”: 50Hertz)

Linkup
> See VDE press release, in German (html)
> See VDE FNN statistics page, in German

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Amprion: “Smart Valve” for flexible power flow control

05.08.2020

To maintain the stability of the transmission grid despite the current increase in decentralised and volatile generation, the German transmission system operator (TSO) Amprion – like many other TSCNET shareholders – is already using a wide range of innovative technologies, for instance Phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) or reactive power compensation systems such as Statcom. A promising pilot project has now additionally been launched, for which Amprion has signed a cooperation agreement with the US Silicon Valley company, Smart Wires. In the three-phase project, the mobile modular static-synchronous series compensator (mSSSC) developed by Smart Wires, the so called SmartValve, will be deployed in the Amprion grid.

The aim of the project is both to increase the transmission capacity of Amprion’s transmission grid and to maintain its high level of system stability. SmartValve is designed for a more balanced and thus more efficient use of power lines. By actively changing the power flows, it enables better control of the transmission system and minimises redispatch. Due to its modular structure, SmartValve is easy to transport and can be operated flexibly at different locations. This distinguishes the new technology from conventional PSTs, for example, making it an ideal complement to support the system from a stability perspective.

Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, refers in this context to the significantly increased costs for redispatch in Germany in recent years due to the changes in the energy landscape. This is where the SmartValve project comes in: “We see this innovative technology as having the potential to allow us to use the network more efficiently and reduce the need for redispatch.” The two partners expect the project to span two to three years to verify the added value of the new technology in the Amprion grid.

Amprion and Smart Wires launched a pilot project to implement the SmartValve solution in the transmission grid (picture: Smart Wires)

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> See Amprion press release (html)

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Awards for ELES smart grid projects

30.07.2020

The International Smart Grids Action Network (ISGAN) is a technology cooperation programme on smart grids by the International Energy Agency (IEA). ISGAN provides a strategic platform to raise awareness and to stimulate action by high level governments for accelerated development and deployment of smart and clean electricity grids around the world. ISGAN initiatives include the annual ISGAN Award of Excellence in “Digitalization Enabling Consumer Empowerment”. On 28 July, the jury announced the winners of the 6th ISGAN Award, which focuses on digitisation at global level and for which nominations have been received from around the world. The first and second prizes were awarded to two projects in which TSCNET shareholder ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO), is significantly involved.

The first place goes to the NEDO project, a Japanese-Slovenian initiative whose main partners, besides ELES, are the Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) and the multinational conglomerate Hitachi. The NEDO project introduces integrated and centrally managed cloud-based solutions to make better use of the existing network and provide customers with a higher quality electricity supply and the opportunity to actively participate in electricity markets and systemic services. ELES decided at the end of 2015 to participate in the project, whose main responsible partner, the namesake agency NEDO, received the award on behalf of the consortium.

The award for FutureFlow, which took second place, was received by ELES itself. The international project was conceived by ELES experts and involves twelve partners from eight European countries. The project implements innovative e-trading solutions for smart cross-border balancing and redispatching in the control areas of four central and southern European TSOs, which are all shareholders of TSCNET. Besides the project leader ELES, the other TSO participants are APG from Austria, MAVIR from Hungary, and Transelectrica from Romania. FutureFlow was launched in 2016 and successfully concluded in December 2019. Pilot tests in real time have proven that also small businesses and power generation units can be a reliable source of flexibility to maintain the balance in the electricity system. The project was funded by the EU under the Horizon 2020 programme, in fact, it was the largest research project financed under Horizon 2020.

The ISGAN Award 2020 is exceptional in that it is the first time that one company receives two awards. After the announcement, the CEO of ELES, Aleksander Mervar, commented that with these two awards, ELES has obtained great international recognition for its activities in the field of innovation and development of smart networks. Mr Mervar complimented the partners in both consortia. By dedicating the two awards to all those who participated in both projects, he acknowledged their outstanding performance.

ELES received two ISGAN Awards 2020 for the smart grid initiatives FutureFlow and NEDO Project (picture: ELES)

Linkup
> See ELES press release (html)
> Visit ISGAN Award 2020 website (html)

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Redispatch harmonisation in Germany

26.06.2020

Up until now, redispatch measures between the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) – 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW – and the operators of power plants and storage facilities with a capacity of more than 10MW have been carried out on the basis of IT tools specific to the particular TSO control area. In order to align the individual procedures nationwide, the four TSCNET shareholders on 26 June successfully put the first component of their joint redispatch platform into operation, the “Redispatch Settlement Server” (“Redispatch-Abwicklungsserver” – RAS).

The German electricity market is increasingly characterised by volatile generation and RAS is an instrument to initiate redispatch measures both faster and more flexibly. With harmonised data formats and processes, the redispatch platform, of which the RAS is the first part, provides the basis for the integration of renewable energies into the existing redispatch processes, that is, for future-proof congestion management. In concrete terms, RAS allows TSO control centres to monitor and process all relevant power plant interventions. As a result, TSOs can coordinate their redispatch decisions and activities more efficiently. Moreover, the central management introduces frictionless settlement and transparency processes.

The second part of the redispatch platform is the “Redispatch Determination Server” (“Redispatch-Ermittlungsserver” – RES). RES will complement or replace existing forecasting tools for expectable grid situations such as imminent bottlenecks. It will identify those options for action that are compliant with the regulations and most cost-efficient. Based on RES calculations, TSOs can resolve both predicted and existing grid congestions more efficiently than today. RES is scheduled to go into operation in 2021.

The four German TSOs have succesfully launched RAS, a joint server for redispatch settlement

Linkup
> See 50Hertz press release (html)
> 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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DA/RE project: Redispatch 2.0

09.04.2020

The grid security initiative DA/RE (“DAta exchange/Redispatch”) was launched in summer 2018 by TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, and entered the pilot phase on 1 April 2019. The first retrievals of redispatch capacities were carried out in summer 2019 and now the pilot phase of the Baden-Württemberg grid project has been successfully concluded. Apart from TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, three distribution system operators (DSOs) and four other partners from the fields of virtual power plants, home storage, and energy trading were involved in the DA/RE pilot phase.

Like comparable projects, DA/RE responds to the increasing volatility and decentralisation of electricity generation. In order to stabilise the entire electricity system in the future, DA/RE intends to facilitate the transition from the current redispatch with centralised large-scale power plants to new processes involving the flexibility potential of smaller decentralised generation plants and storage facilities. In the pilot phase, the DA/RE partners have achieved their first project goal: Processes for the coordinated retrieval of redispatch power from the distribution grid over several voltage levels have been developed and successfully tested in practice. The entire process chain from the exchange of planning data via DA/RE internal processes with merit-order based plant selection up to the activation of the physical plant retrieval was tested in three steps. A total of 40 plants of different technologies with rated outputs between 3kW and 30MW were involved.

Key assumptions corroborated
In the pilot phase, the coordinated redispatch retrieval was verified across all voltage levels and the basic functionality of the DA/RE concept was confirmed. With the experience and findings gained from this, the final DA/RE platform is now being developed, for which uniform processes and interfaces to automate the process steps will be defined. This will ensure the scalability and mass suitability of the system and simplify the integration of smaller grid and plant operators.

The two DA/RE project managers, Florian Gutekunst from TransnetBW and Kilian Geschermann from the DSO Netze BW, describe DA/RE as an open project: “We are looking forward to involving further interested parties from the ranks of grid and plant operators as fellow campaigners. We are all facing growing challenges due to the transformation of the generation landscape; together we can find smart solutions and better meet the challenges.”

The pilot phase of the DA/RE project for smart decentralised redispatch solutions has successfully been concluded

Linkup
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> Visit DA/RE website, in German (html)

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Integrated market in Switzerland

13.02.2020

In Continental Europe, the synchronised frequency is of 50 Hz. It is a core task of every transmission system operator (TSO) to keep the balance between power production and consumption and the grid frequency stable. The Swiss TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the national TSO, operates a market for ancillary services for this purpose. Power plants and other auxiliary service providers (ASPs) in Switzerland hold primary, secondary and tertiary control reserve capacities on behalf of Swissgrid and, in case of frequency deviations, allocate them against compensation. Primary and secondary control energy is retrieved automatically and tertiary control energy manually.

Swissgrid is constantly striving to further develop the ancillary services market with innovative solutions. These include the bundling of manually retrieved products for frequency control and for international redispatch into a single integrated market. A market platform suitable for this purpose, which enables the retrieval of both, tertiary control energy and energy for international redispatches, was successfully launched by Swissgrid last week. This is possible because the two products have the same characteristics and can be called up with the same lead time of 15 minutes.

The specifications of the platform design allow the market offers to be freely changeable. This means, above all, that there is no longer any competition between the tertiary control energy market and the intraday market. ASPs can now offer the energy not sold in the intraday market on the integrated market. Another new feature is that tenders can be processed using the communication protocol of the Energy Communication Platform (ECP) of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), which enables direct communication between the IT systems of the ASPs and the Swissgrid bidding platform. This process automation leads to greater transparency.

Swissgrid has launched a platform for the integration of the tertiary control energy market and the international intraday market (picture of the Mettlen-Lavorgo powerline: Albinfo / CC BY 3.0)

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> See Swissgrid news release (html)

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Redispatch with renewable energy systems in practical test

12.02.2020

In Germany, redispatch measures for the eliminations of bottlenecks within the transmission grid are currently limited to conventional power generation plants. An amendment to the German Energy Industry Act with effect from 1 October 2021 allows renewable-energy facilities to be deployed for redispatch measures. These new regulations will strengthen the role of renewables in the maintenance of electricity system security. The task now is to ensure balance sheet handling for such redispatch measures and to develop a mode for the financial settlement of the interventions.

For this reason, TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the transmission system operator (TSO) from north-east Germany, has entered into an agreement with the Norwegian energy company Statkraft, Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy, to jointly test redispatch with renewable energy systems in practice. The key objective of these practical tests is being able to calculate the necessary effort for redispatch measures with renewable energy systems. 50Hertz accesses wind farms marketed by Statkraft in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania that are directly connected to the TSO’s transmission grid or to a regional distribution grid. 50Hertz and Statkraft want to test demand variants for the wind farms to allow the legal requirements to be implemented efficiently and safely with this new form of redispatch.

Dr Dirk Biermann, Managing Director Markets and Systems Operation at 50Hertz, explains that due to the new legal regulations, TSOs will in future have various options for the demand of redispatch for plants in the distribution grid. Dr Biermann comments on the forthcoming practice tests: “Demand via the distribution system operator is just as possible as direct demand by 50Hertz. Our aim is to identify the most efficient way. We hope that the field test will provide us with important insights in this regard.”

50Hertz and Statkraft have agreed to jointly test redispatch with renewable energy systems in practice

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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Study on German-Polish TSO cooperation

16.01.2020

The two transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders 50Hertz from Germany and PSE from Poland jointly conducted the “German-Polish Study on cooperation between TSOs PSE and 50Hertz in long-term and mid-term perspectives”, which now has been finalised. The study was supported by the respective national Ministries responsible for energy.

As its title suggests, the study is divided into an investigation of medium-term and long-term cooperation objectives. The mid-term part aims at improving the coordination of the operational planning processes. The following issues, among others, have been identified as important: improving the quality of forecasting of power flows at the German-Polish border and the coordinated use of cross-border remedial measures such as phase-shifting transformers as well as bilateral and multilateral redispatch. To better predict cross-border flows, PSE and 50 Hertz agreed to support the development of a flow-based methodology, and as far as the remedial measures are concerned, advanced software solutions are required. However, not only the development of an IT tool is needed here, but also advanced coordination and cost sharing in a region-wide mechanism.

For the long-term study, a modelling process carried out by the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Warsaw was used, which was consulted and monitored by experts from both TSOs. Using alternative scenarios, different time frames and market simulations, the main trends in German-Polish electricity exchange as well as future challenges for regional markets and networks were identified, such as interconnector capacities, growth of energy demands or deviating energy prices.

50Hertz and PSE have conducted a joint study on German-Polish TSO cooperation (picture: Andreas Vogel / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Linkup
> See PSE press release (html)
> See 50Hertz webpage on the study, in German (html)
> Open Executive summary (pdf, 538.47kB)

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Swissgrid and hydropower storage plants agree on minimum production

20.12.2019

To avoid an overload of grid elements in western Switzerland during the winter holidays, TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO), has agreed upon a minimum production with selected regional hydropower storage plants. This is intended to reduce the potential increased and costly need for redispatch during these low-consumption days.

The measure is also necessary because the availability of the transformer at the Bassecourt substation in the canton of Jura is currently limited and the new transformer at Mühleberg in the canton of Berne has not yet been fully installed. Both projects will be implemented in spring 2020. The agreed minimum production in the period from 20 December 2019 to 6 January 2020 is 200MW (off-peak) and 400MW (peak).

Swissgrid has negotiated minimum production from hydropower storage plants

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> See Swissgrid news release (html)

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Final Conference of FutureFlow

10.09.2019

The FutureFlow project reaches the final straight: On 15 October, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO) ELES will host the final conference of the successful project in the Austrian capital of Vienna. FutureFlow was launched in 2016 and funded by the EU under the Horizon 2020 programme. The twelve project partners from eight European countries will officially conclude the project in December 2019.

The increasing regenerative energy generation and decreasing flexibility from conventional power plants require innovative approaches by the players in the electricity market. This is where the FutureFlow project comes in by exploring innovative e-trading solutions for smart cross-border balancing and redispatching in the control areas of four central-south European TSOs, all shareholders of TSCNET. In addition to the project coordinator ELES, the other TSO participants are APG from Austria, MAVIR from Hungary and Transelectrica from Romania.

At the final conference the FutureFlow partners will present the most important project results and options for their implementation. These include, for example, the real-time results of the cross-border pilot tests and the operation of the IT platforms developed as part of FutureFlow.

The final conference of the FutureFlow project is hosted by Eles in Vienna on 15 October (picture: Stefan Steinbauer, Pixabay)

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

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