APG investigates Flex-Hub concept

24.01.2020

In times of increasing shares of volatile renewable energies, flexibility is an important factor for European transmission system operators (TSOs). For this reason, TSCNET shareholder APG plans to introduce a Flex-Hub, which will enable small, decentralised flexibility resources to participate in the power frequency control of the national electricity grid. Together with the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), a global non-profit foundation to promote block chain technology in the energy sector, the Austrian TSO is conducting a feasibility study for the concept being developed by APG.

This proof of concept is intended to provide a solution for the technical implementation of the Flex-Hub using the open-source software application “Energy Web Decentralised Operating System” (EW-DOS), which includes the blockchain platform of Energy Web. The final objective of the hub concept is to efficiently integrate plant qualification, plant registration, bid management and billing functions of decentralised flexibility providers so that the additional flexibility can be made available for future challenges in power grid operation.

APG is conducting a proof of concept for its Flex-Hub model (picture: APG)

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> See APG press release, in German (html)

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New EU Electricity Regulation in place

17.01.2020

With the beginning of 2020, the recast of the European Electricity Regulation on the internal market for electricity (EU/2019/943) came into force. The regulation is important for the new electricity market design, which was adopted as part of the “Clean Energy for All Europeans Package” and aims at realising the European Energy Union with common market rules and an efficient and high-performing cross-border infrastructure.

The regulation sets out the basic principles for an efficient electricity market and should allow for improved integration of national markets. It should also create greater capacity for cross-border trade, thereby providing better access to renewable energy. As far as the business of transmission system operators (TSOs) is concerned, rules for better coordination and closer transnational cooperation are the core of the regulatory framework. Furthermore, the functions and tasks of the regional service coordinators (RSCs) are clearly specified.

Already on 10 January the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT and TransnetBW had submitted their draft scenario framework for the 2035 (2021) Network Development Plan (NEP) to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). With this, they want to “contribute to the success of the energy turnaround and the achievement of the climate protection goals”.

The revised European Electricity Regulation on the internal market for electricity entered into force on 1 January 2020 (picture: European Commission / Etienne Ansotte)

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> See press release of the European Commission (html)
> See Netzentwicklungsplan webpage, in German (html)
> Visit EUR-Lex site (html) for the full text of the Regulation in various languages and formats.

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European wind energy record shares in 2019

14.01.2020

Not much time has passed in the new year, but the German-based International Economic Forum for Renewable Energies (Internationales Wirtschaftsforum Regenerative Energien/IWR) has already evaluated the electricity data for 2019 provided by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) on behalf of the member transmission system operators (TSOs). According to the IWR, the total share of all renewable energies in the energy mix has continued to rise. Wind and solar power generation reached new all-time highs (almost 510TWh), while electricity production from hydropower remained comparatively low due to the long dry phase in 2019.

In the EU, wind energy was the most important regenerative energy source in 2019 with around 392TWh (2018: 349TWh). The statistical analysis of the IWR coincides with the figures which the Dutch-German TSO TenneT has just published for the feed-in of electricity from German North Sea wind farms. The TSCNET shareholder in 2019 has increased the offshore wind energy connection capacity of its twelve German offshore grid connection systems currently in operation to 7,132MW. For one thing, this means that the “wind harvest” record figures exceed the previous year by around 21%. Secondly, the TSO has already now achieved and even significantly exceeded the German federal government’s targets for the sustainable expansion of offshore wind energy. The government’s target for the North Sea and Baltic Sea together by 2020 is 6.5GW in total.

Expressed in absolute figures, the wind energy transmitted by TenneT from the North Sea reached a new record of 20.21TWh in 2019 (16.75TWh in 2018). TenneT managing director Tim Meyerjürgens comments on the progress: “We are pleased that we have already achieved the goal set by the federal government ahead of schedule and with the three other offshore grid connections currently being implemented, we will be capable of delivering 10,000MW of transmission capacity from the North Sea in 2025 in Germany alone.”

European figures for wind energy in 2019 are at a record high, as is the German offshore grid connection capacity of TenneT

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> See IWR press release, in German (html)

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TenneT participates in Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition

13.01.2020

The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT is continuously increasing the amount of sea-generated wind energy transmitted ashore. The TSCNET shareholder is also the initiator of the pioneering North Sea Wind Power Hub concept that combines generation, storage and transmission of wind energy with a multinational interconnection of North Sea riparian states. Now TenneT is also participating in the just founded international Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition to promote the sustainable use of marine renewable energy and reduce the harmful effects of climate change.

Not only wind power but also floating solar, tidal and wave power count among the maritime renewable energy potentials. According to a report by the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, together they could provide almost 10% of the annual greenhouse gas emission reductions needed by 2050 to keep global temperatures below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. However, offshore wind energy is likely to make up the largest part of this climate protection potential.

The Action Coalition was established in response to the High-Level Panel’s September 2019 call for ocean-related climate protection activities and brings together civil society, intergovernmental institutions and industry. It will represent the offshore wind sector in the global dialogue on climate change and be led by the Scandinavian power companies Ørsted and Equinor. The total of eleven partners will develop a vision for 2050, highlighting the actions to be taken to sustainably expand offshore wind energy, thereby contributing to the UN’s sustainable development goals and global decarbonisation targets. First results will be announced at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in June 2020.

TenneT is part of the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition to promote the sustainable use of renewable marine energy (picture: TenneT)

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TransnetBW’s grid booster confirmed

22.12.2019

Power generation in Germany is changing rapidly in the course of the energy transition and increasingly large amounts of renewable electricity must be transmitted from the north and east to the south and west. If the generated electricity exceeds line capacities, the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) have to perform costly redispatch measures. The grid infrastructure clearly needs expansion, for which the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) have conceived the “Network Development Plan (NDP) 2030”, the 2019 version of which was published this spring. To minimise the need for grid extension and cut redispatch costs, the NDP includes innovations that could result from technological progress in the coming years. In addition to Power-to-X and monitoring systems, prototypes of so-called grid boosters are also considered.

TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the TSO from the southwest of Germany, plans a grid booster pilot at the Kupferzell substation near Schwäbisch-Hall in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg. The concept includes a fast power source in the shape of a large battery at the end of a line section that is subject to frequent strain and overload, which applies to the Kupferzell grid node. The grid booster that is envisaged, one of three in the NDP, will have an output of 250MW. The booster battery can supply energy within a few seconds. In periods of high grid load, the booster is intended to relieve the system in case of disturbances until the bottleneck can be eliminated in a targeted manner by the system management.

The Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the competent authority, has now approved the booster plans of TransnetBW. With this confirmation by the agency, the project can enter the procedure for inclusion in the Federal Requirements Plan, the government list of essential projects for the sustainable energy future of Germany. TransnetBW considers the grid booster to be a great opportunity to design and operate the grid infrastructure efficiently in the long term and is investing a high multi-digit million-euro amount in this environmentally friendly storage technology.

The Federal Network Agency confirms the plans of TransnetBW for a grid booster at the Kupferzell grid node (illustration using a picture of TransnetBW)

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> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)

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€2.9bn for Austria’s grid infrastructure

19.12.2019

Grid expansion planning needs to be transparent and internationally coordinated. Each TSCNET shareholder complies with this and the Austrian transmission system operator (TSO) APG has just implemented these principles with its Network Development Plan 2019 (NDP2019). The thoroughly designed NDP has now been approved by E-Control, the government regulator for electricity and natural gas markets in Austria.

APG will invest €2.9bn over the next ten years to ensure the security of supply and the grid in Austria. Many investments are related to the decarbonisation of Austria and the implementation of the Austrian energy and climate strategy “#mission2030”, which sets the national goal of covering 100% of electricity consumption with renewable energies by 2030. Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG, explains that “many energy-intensive industrial and commercial enterprises will switch to electricity from renewable sources”. This requires extension measures and the NDP defines the infrastructure projects necessary to facilitate the transmission of the required electricity over the next ten years.

In addition to the very important Salzburg line (“Salzburgleitung”) and the Weinviertel Line (“Weinviertelleitung”) in Lower Austria, transmission capacities and power supply in the central Upper Austria region must be extended. To this end, a feed-in concept was developed for industrial customers. Also important is the speedy expansion of transmission capacities between Austria and Germany and between Austria and Italy.

The Austrian NDP2019 has been approved by the competent government regulator (picture: APG)

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> See APG press release (html)

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Precise prognoses with AI

11.12.2019

In the control area of the German transmission system operator (TSO) 50Hertz in northern and eastern Germany, the installed capacity of renewable energies is particularly high. Since renewable energy in Germany is typically generated at a considerable distance from the centres of consumption and thus must be transmitted over long distances, the transmission losses for 50Hertz are correspondingly high. In 2018, the TSCNET shareholder transmitted a total of 117TWh of electricity and the losses amounted to 2.5TWh which corresponds to 2%.

TSOs must compensate for these losses through costly feed-in measures. 50Hertz spent around €70m in 2018 on compensatory electricity and has a keen interest in predicting losses more accurately and purchasing electricity for compensation at lower cost on the electricity market. Therefore, 50Hertz has developed a new prognosis model based on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The previous model was based on forecasts for the expected feed-in of wind and solar power and a comparison with similar days in the past. For the new model, 50Hertz provided a much larger database: At 70 different locations in the 50Hertz control area, data on the feed-in of renewables as well as on the amount of wind, insolation and temperature are collected every quarter of an hour. With this enormous quantity of data, the artificial neural network is to calculate a transmission loss forecast for the following day, also with an accuracy of 15 minutes. The forecasts are then compared with the actual grid losses and the algorithm is automatically adjusted. This process is repeated thousands of times and the forecasts become more and more accurate.

The neural network has been in the test phase since the end of June 2019. Since then, the data has been cleansed and a database has been built so that the AI algorithm has been continuously improved and highly reliable prognoses can now be created. Since 9 December, the model is fully applied and used operationally at 50Hertz.

50Hertz has developed an AI based forecast model for grid losses (picture: 50Hertz)

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> See 50Hertz press release (html)

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Final MIGRATE conference

10.12.2019

The MIGRATE project (“Massive InteGRATion of power Electronic devices”) is the largest TSO project funded by the European Commission. It was launched in 2016 in the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme. Among the 23 partners of the consortium from 13 European countries are twelve universities/labs, one manufacturer and ten transmission system operators (TSOs), including the TSCNET shareholders Amprion (Germany), ELES (Slovenia) and the Dutch-German TSO TenneT. Under the coordination of TenneT, the partners have researched technology-based solutions for an optimised linking of electricity generation and consumption by means of power electronics.

After four years of intensive work, the MIGRATE project will be successfully concluded by the end of 2019, implying that all project partners have developed innovative solutions in their respective areas of responsibility to gradually adapt the pan-European high-voltage AC transmission system to the requirements resulting from the increasing share of renewable energies and power electronic devices. At a final conference on 4 December in Brussels, the individual outcomes were presented to colleagues and anyone wishing to learn more about the power system stabilisation and grid monitoring capabilities. The keynote speech was given by Laurent Schmitt, Secretary General of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E).

The final conference of the MIGRATE project was held in Brussels on 4 December (picture of the ELES delegation with presenter Dr. Blaž Kirn (third from right): ELES)

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

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525kV technology for Germany’s “power highways”

04.12.2019

SuedLink, SuedOstLink and A-Nord are large-scale DC connection projects that are essential for Germany’s low-carbon energy future, since these so-called “Stromautobahnen” (power highways) will transport green electricity generated in the north and east of the country to the consumption centres in the south and west. The three power lines will be implemented predominantly via underground cabling and are collaborative efforts of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). TenneT and TransnetBW cooperate on SuedLink, 50Hertz and TenneT join forces on SuedOstLink and A-Nord is carried out by Amprion. Together with Ultranet, a joint project with TransnetBW, A-Nord forms the Korridor A.

The four TSCNET shareholders intend to install innovative plastic-insulated DC cables with a voltage level of 525kV in these projects. So far, 320kV cables have been used for comparable DC connections in Germany. As a matter of fact, it will be the first use of 525kV underground cables worldwide, which underlines the pilot character of the three high-performance connections. The decision by the TSOs was preceded by an extensive test phase on the technical suitability of the 525kV cables. The pre-qualification tests according to international standards of the Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) were successful and proved that the 525kV cables are reliable and safe.

A higher voltage level of the cables translates into more transmission capacity. This has two possible effects for the planned DC lines, assuming technical feasibility for the entire system: On the one hand, more electricity can be transmitted in a certain corridor with the same number of cables. On the other hand, fewer cables are required to transmit the same power compared to 320kV cable systems. This allows the routing to be designed narrower, which reduces excavation work and environmental impact.

The four German TSOs opt for innovative 525kV solution for power highways with underground cabling (picture: TenneT)

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

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Swift progress for new 50Hertz overhead line

29.11.2019

This May, TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), started the construction of the first section of the 380kV Perleberg-Wolmirstedt overhead line. The new line will connect the Perleberg substation in Brandenburg with the Wolmirstedt substation in Saxony-Anhalt over a distance of 106km and replace the existing 220kV line from the 1950s. This grid extension is intended to ensure that the increasing quantities of regionally generated electricity from renewable sources are also available to consumers in southern and western Germany.

The first construction phase with 87 pylons and a length of 37km stretches between the substations Stendal West and Wolmirstedt. Construction work is progressing rapidly. More than half of the pylons have now been erected and some masts have already been fitted with power cables. Construction should be completed by mid-March next year.

50Hertz has already erected 48 pylons of the Perleberg-Wolmirstedt overhead line (picture of the substation Wolmirstedt: Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg)

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

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