Interview: “Consumption drop considered”

27.03.2020

The current decline in Europe-wide electricity consumption is significant and requires both European transmission system operators (TSOs) and Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) to adapt to the lower feed-in rates. “In general, it is expected that the demand for electricity in 2020 will decrease noticeably due to the corona crisis. Some EU member states expect a drop of 10 to 15 percent of annual electricity demand,” explains Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based RSC in an interview with “ZfK” (Zeitung für Kommunale Wirtschaft), one of Germany’s leading trade journals of the energy and utility industry.

As regards the reaction of energy market participants, Neubauer comments that this decline is being considered in grid management and included in the daily forecasting processes by the TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs). Neubauer sees no threat to supply security: “All suppliers and operators of power plants and critical infrastructures have emergency plans.” These are implemented immediately to ensure the operability of the infrastructures. A favourable factor is that there are currently no external influences, such as natural disasters or critical grid situations, to interfere with operational processes. “The main focus is currently on protecting the operational personnel in order to ensure 24/7 operation of the critical infrastructure levels.”

Needless to say, this also applies to TSCNET Services itself. Although the European RSCs do not have direct grid control responsibility, they do carry out the regional analysis of the transmission system together with the TSOs and act as an early warning system, which identifies possible bottlenecks and dangerous situations. Together with the TSO control centres, the RSC then initiates mitigation measures. To continue providing 24/7 support to TSOs, TSCNET has taken all actions to protect its staff from the pandemic. This includes sending almost all employees to work from home and special protective measures for the operations team. Since almost all TSCNET processes are already highly digitised, the current situation does not present the Munich RSC with extreme challenges.

Despite the pandemic-related decline in power consumption, Maik Neubauer expects no fundamental problems for grid security

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> Visit “ZfK” interview, in German (html, paywall)

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“The grid demands digitisation and AI”

02.03.2020

Europe’s high-voltage grid has a total length of around 485,000km and continuously feeds in approx. 1,152,017MW of electricity. The transnational grid can be considered as the backbone of all European critical infrastructures, whose reliable operation is essential for Europe to function as an economic zone. Since this aspect is too often neglected, Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based Regional Security Coordinator (RSC), has taken the opportunity to share his views on the prospects of the European electricity transmission system in an interview in the current issue (1/2020) of the “THEMEN:magazin”. This German-language medium bi-monthly provides reports on economic challenges and opportunities with a focus on energy policy.

Neubauer points out that, although the European interconnected grid is one of the most complex infrastructures in the world, there have so far hardly been any significant blackout situations – thanks to the cooperation of the European transmission system operators (TSOs), which has been well-established for decades. But since the energy transition is a pan-European project, the increasing flows of electricity from renewable sources do not stop at the border. European TSOs face the challenge of integrating numerous additional energy sources into the grid and operational control processes. Due to the predominance of nuclear and fossil power generation to date, the forecasting and control processes for optimum utilisation and balancing of the European grid have so far been rather deterministic, which is currently changing at a rapid pace with the volatile renewable energies.

Therefore, in addition to grid expansion and swift digitisation of control processes, increased European coordination of congestion and capacity management is essential. The EU network codes and, of course, the RSCs are crucial for this, as Neubauer emphasises. The RSCs receive data on expected grid situations from almost all European TSOs. This information is aggregated by the RSCs to provide an “early warning system” that identifies potential bottlenecks and threats to the grid. The RSCs thus support their TSO customers to counteract potential blackout situations in Europe by taking real- and near-time mitigation actions in their system operations and planning departments. Nevertheless, according to Neubauer, swift digitisation is inevitable to cope with the increasing data volumes in European grid management caused by the integration of renewable energy sources.

Without the seamless interaction of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT), secure grid management will hardly be possible in the future. Neubauer also predicts that without a high level of artificial intelligence (AI), the complexity in critical infrastructures will no longer be controllable by humans in the medium term. Therefore, AI will soon also radically change the energy sector. Neubauer is well aware, however, that IT security and cyber security must have the highest priority in order to safeguard developments in AI and protect highly critical infrastructures from misuse or even terrorism.

“Artificial intelligence will be indispensable” – in an interview with the “THEMEN:magazin”, Maik Neubauer presented his view on the perspectives of the European electricity transmission system

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> Visit “THEMEN:magazin” webpage, in German (html)

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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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> Read RiffReporter article, in German (html)

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“The backbone of cross-border trading” at Euroforum Conference

08.12.2018

Euroforum is a prestigious German promoter of first-class conferences, seminars and meetings and a subsidiary of the Handelsblatt Media Group, which publishes the leading German-language business newspaper. The Euroforum events bring together experts from business, science and politics and create forums for the transfer of knowledge and the exchange of opinions. This year’s Euroforum conference on 6 and 7 December in Düsseldorf, the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, was dedicated to the topic of “Intraday trading in the electricity sector – digitisation and automation as growth drivers”.

TSCNET Services as one of the five European Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) – with fifteen transmission system operators (TSOs) from eleven central and eastern European countries as shareholders – can offer significant contributions on this area, which is why Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of the Munich-based company, gladly accepted the invitation of Euroforum to speak at the conference. Mr. Neubauer, who acted in the past also as Board Member of the European Energy Exchange EEX where he already was part of a task force to work on a concept for a pan-European Intraday Trading system, presented the work of the European RSCs to an audience of experts. He stated that the work of the RSCs – largely unnoticed by the general public – is important to ensure a stable transmission network for their TSO shareholders with regional risk analyses. “Without the 24/7 work of the European TSOs and the RSCs to keep the European grid stable there wouldn’t be a sustainable basis for an efficient energy market on the continent,” Neubauer said.

In the conference many discussions had been around the development of the new European Intraday Trading System XBID that helps traders, generators, but also TSOs, to balance out the grids within the day of delivery.

Maik Neubauer presented the transmission grid as backbone of cross-border trading at Euroforum Conference in Düsseldorf, Germany

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> Visit Euroforum Conference website, in German (html)

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PowerCoordinationEurope – ElSeC 2018 held in Brussels

17.10.2018

Exactly one year ago today TSCNET Services in cooperation with the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) hosted the first Conference on Electricity Security Coordination (ElSeC) in Munich. Yesterday this year’s edition took place in Brussels, Belgium, under the title #PowerCoordinationEurope. The event was organised by ENTSO-E and Coreso, the Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) for Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, in partnership with the Florence School of Regulation (FSR). The event is said to “be a unique opportunity to explore the European electricity ‘stellar system’ with its local, national, regional and European dimensions – its market, operations, planning and innovation galaxies with IT as a vehicle for connecting the dots between them”.

In the course of the conference, the so-called Clean Energy Package was repeatedly discussed – with interesting contributions. Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, reiterated his expectation that the “decarbonisation of the power sector will be faster than anticipated”. We from TSCNET Services were also present. Uwe Zimmermann, one of the two Managing Directors, took part in the panel discussion on “A journey across Europe: RSC services and regional specificities”, also covering the needed level of interoperability between the RSCs.

The second Managing Director, Maik Neubauer, was one of the panelists at the session “Digital: enabling power coordination” discussing the impacts of digitalisation and analytical intelligence on grid management and European energy markets, but also aspects like cybersecurity for grid data. Together with Laurent Schmitt, General Secretary of ENTSO-E, and FSR Director Jean-Michel Glachant, he discussed the complexity topics of managing the security in the European power grid, based on rapidly evolving technologies.
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Pictures from ElSeC 2018 #PowerCoordinationEurope (pictures by Coreso)

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The ElSeC 2018 video by Coreso presenting all five Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) in Europe (Munich and TSCNET Services from minute 5:30)

ElSeC 2018, called #PowerCoordinationEurope, by Coreso in cooperation with ENTSO-E and The Florence School of Regulation was held in Brussels

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> See ElSeC 2018 PowerCoordinationEurope programme (html)
> See ElSeC 2018 PowerCoordinationEurope list of speakers (html)

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Guest at the German Energy Congress

12.09.2018

The 13th German Energy Congress (“13. Deutscher Energiekongress”) is a renowned and prominently attended industry meeting with a focus on energy policy and business models. The congress offers the opportunity for professional exchange and for the mediation of specialist information. It is aimed at high-ranking representatives of the German energy industry. The motto of this year’s congress is “Energy industry in transition”, taking place on 11 and 12 September at the event location of the “MVG-Museum” in Munich, Germany.

As an essential component of the congress, a “Political Evening” took place yesterday evening. This event was moderated by two journalists of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, one of Germany’s leading and opinion-forming daily newspapers. Next to high-profile political representatives ‒ Franz Josef Pschierer, the State Minister in the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology, and Prof. Dr. Martin Neumann, Johann Saathoff and Dr. Julia Verlinden, three members of the German Bundestag with energy policy expertise but also with diverging energy policy ideas ‒ Maik Neubauer, one of the two managing directors of TSCNET Services, took part in the panel discussion.

In the discussion, Mr Neubauer focused on the role of the “energy market expert”, i.e. he did not only comment on political issues, but also provided information on the company TSCNET Services and gave an insight on the European Energy market development from the inside perspective of a Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) for the European power transmission grid. Together with Prof. Neumann from the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Germany, he actively discussed the role of digitalisation as an enabler of the energy transition in Germany and very important element of future grid and energy market infrastructures. For all market players, maintaining system security in a rapidly and constantly changing energy market is undoubtedly one of the major challenges.

Maik Neubauer, one of the two managing directors of TSCNET, is one of the participants of the “Political Evening” at the 13th German Energy Congress in Munich

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> Open Energy Congress (Deutscher Energiekongress) programme, in German (pdf, 2mb)

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

27.07.2018

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.

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

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“ZfK”: “Big data for a stable grid situation”

13.06.2018

With fourteen transmission system operators (TSOs) from eleven Central and Eastern European countries as shareholders and four additional customers from four other countries, the surveillance area of the Munich-based regional security coordinator (RSC) TSCNET Services lies at the heart of the continent. TSCNET was originally set up as a joint TSO initiative to maintain the operational security of the electricity system. Today, TSCNET’s core responsibilities include coordinated network security analysis, capacity calculations, support in critical network situations, and aggregation of all relevant network data for the partner TSOs.

Despite their essential function within the integrated European transmission system, the work of the RSCs still is not well known to those who are not directly involved in the energy market. A comprehensive insight report published in Germany’s leading professional journal for the municipal energy economy, the “Zeitung für kommunale Wirtschaft” (ZfK), offers a great opportunity to improve TSCNET’s name recognition in this specific economic sector. A journalist from the prestigious press medium had a revealing talk with Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services.

The report is centred around TSCNET’s Daily Operational Planning Teleconference (DOPT) with the TSOs’ experts. In these conferences every day at 9 p.m., TSCNET’s risk analysis is presented every day and the catalogue of possible measures is discussed.

Mr Neubauer emphasises the outstanding role of the RSCs as an early warning system for grid security in the increasingly complex and rapidly changing transnational electricity system. He sees TSCNET well prepared for new tasks, as already now the “pan-European network security analysis is going to be strongly aligned with the other european RSCs”.

Power lines silhouetted with city night life. Picture: Voy Ager / Shutterstock, stock photo ID 631374623.

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> Open “ZfK” article, in German (pdf, 427kb)

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Secure operation in an ever complex system

01.06.2018

According to the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), no risk is expected for the security of electricity supply in Europe in the summer of 2018. The balance between generation and consumption should be maintained even under severe conditions. Hydroreservoirs, however, require special attention throughout the season. These are the key messages from the Summer Outlook 2018, the ENTSO-E supply security forecast on the upcoming summer season, which recently has been published together with the Winter Review 2017/18.

The ENTSO-E forecasting method is constantly updated to integrate as many risks as possible. This is ensured by a comprehensive pan-European and system-wide calculation approach, involving a significant number of climate studies. ENTSO-E expressly emphasises, that in addition to pan-European adequacy assessment the transmission system operators (TSOs) also capitalise on the services offered by the Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) ‒ such as the Munich-based TSCNET Services ‒ in order to mitigate risks in an increasingly complex system. These services include pan-European and regional week-ahead adequacy calculations.

The Winter Review 2017/18 notes that the last mild and windy winter has not caused any adequacy issues. Then again, there were deviations from the mid-frequency value of 50Hz in the continental European power system from mid-January to early march. The deviations stem from power imbalances in the Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro (SMM) control block, particular in the control areas of Kosovo and Serbia. This is primarily a policy issue, and ENTSO-E hence calls for a political resolution of the conflict.

> See ENTSO-E press release (html, with access to Outlook)

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Keynote speech at BMWi event in Berlin

25.04.2018

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie – BMWi) maintains an intensive exchange on the energy sector with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). From 22 to 27 April 2018, an expert delegation from the UAE is visiting the BMWi to further deepen the interchange of expertise on electricity market design or questions of grid optimisation between Germany and the UAE. In addition to several field trips and discussions, an expert workshop on the subject of “Market and Grid Integration of Renewable Energy” in the Berlin Embassy of the UAE on 24 April was a key element of the bilateral activities.

In the first workshop session ‒ ”Market and regulatory frameworks for renewables” ‒ a keynote was given by Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based regional security coordinator (RSC). Mr Neubauer spoke about the digitisation of the energy sector and the most important building blocks for the development of an integrated EU power market including secure and connected grids, marketplaces, and market models. In his adress, the TSCNET manager presented an expert account and profound approaches from the inside perspective of an RSC, which is providing European transmission system operators (TSOs) with safety analyses and risk management.

> See BMWi press release from 17 April 2018, in German (html)

Pictures processed in the collage above: Frederic Schweizer

Picture top right: Achim Raschka / CC-BY-SA-4.0

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