Amprion develops rotating asynchronous phase shifter

27.03.2020

When conventional power generation declines, additional technical measures are needed to ensure the stability of the electricity grids. The energy transition in Germany is prompting the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) to take compensatory measures to keep the grid voltage at the required level. An essential factor in maintaining voltage is reactive power, and TSOs respond to changes in the energy landscape by installing reactive power systems to compensate for the loss of reactive power previously provided by conventional power plants. Reactive power is particularly required for the AC transmission of large amounts of energy over long distances. This is likely to be a common practice in the energy future of Germany.

The German TSO Amprion and Siemens Energy plan to develop and install the world’s first rotating asynchronous phase shifter with a high output of approx. 300MVA. The innovative device is called ARESS: Asynchronous Rotating Energy System Stabilizer. It represents a new and fully integrated technology. In contrast to synchronous phase shifters, ARESS supplies far more rotation energy, especially when providing momentary reserve, and also over a longer period of time. The extremely responsive and powerful electrical equipment thus significantly contributes to frequency stability. ARESS is intended to complement and further develop the Statcom (static synchronous compensator) systems and synchronous phase shifters that are currently in use.

The ARESS project was launched on 26 March with the signing of an agreement by Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO of Amprion, and Dr. Jochen Eickholt, managing director and designated executive board member of Siemens Energy. Due to the Corona pandemic, the documents were signed via video conference. The technology partners are convinced that the ARESS technology can be designed much more cost-effectively and compactly than combinations of available technologies in the same scope of application. Amprion and Siemens Energy expect the project to run for four years until the pilot system can be put into operation.

Amprion and Siemens Energy are developing the rotating asynchronous phase shifter ARESS to provide reactive power (exemplary image of a rotating phase shifter: Siemens)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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TenneT concludes successful V2G pilot

04.03.2020

Considering the increase in renewable energies, electromobility represents an additional challenge, but also an opportunity for transmission system operators (TSOs). The decentralised feed-in of renewable energies leads to transport bottlenecks in the transmission grid, but when it comes to balancing power generation and consumption, electric vehicles can contribute to maintaining the balance and security of supply. For this reason, TSCNET shareholder Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, is intensively researching this field. Together with car manufacturer Nissan and energy service provider The Mobility House, the TSO now has successfully concluded a substantive vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot project, which was initiated in March 2018.

As part of a SINTEG (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie” – “Smart Energy Showcases“) project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the partners have investigated the potential of electric vehicle batteries in storing and feeding back locally produced electricity in order to stabilise the power grid and at the same time increase the use of renewable energies and save CO2. During the project phase, Nissan electric vehicles were deployed as mobile energy storage systems in the TenneT control area in northern and southern Germany to instantly reduce local overloads in power supply and demand.

The project offers a significant solution to the increasingly frequent bottlenecks. The wind power available in northern Germany was used by electric cars in the region. At the same time, in the south, electricity from fully charged batteries of Nissan LEAF vehicles was fed back into the grid instead of raising fossil generation. These smart redistribution measures were controlled by software from The Mobility House, the smart charge and energy management system ChargePilot, which follows TenneT’s specifications and also considers the mobility and charging requirements of vehicle users.

TenneT managing director Tim Meyerjürgens comments on the V2G research: “The pilot project has shown that we will be able to use electric mobility in the future to flexibly manage renewable electricity production, which is highly dependent on the weather. This relieves the strain on the electricity grid and helps us to limit the expensive throttling of wind turbines. The short-term flexibility, which is thus provided to us by electromobility, can supplement the grid expansion and become an important component of the energy transition.”

TenneT, Nissan, and The Mobility House have successfully concluded a research project on the use of automobile battery systems for grid stabilisation (picture: screenshot taken from TenneT video “Kooperationsprojekt Stabilisierung des Stromnetzes – Vehicle 2 Grid“, YouTube)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Dutch communication pilot project for aFRR provision

25.02.2020

The significant growth in decentralised energy generation is noticeably changing the European energy landscape. Consumers are also playing an increasingly active role by generating their own electricity as prosumers. The electricity system is thus changing from a demand-oriented system with centralised generation to a more supply-oriented system with decentralised generation. Maintaining the balance of the future transmission system is thus a major concern of European transmission system operators (TSOs), which could be supported by new players serving the ancillary services market as balancing services providers (BSPs). However, product specifications stand for a barrier to new entrants, for example in the field of data communications.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, is already researching suitable balancing solutions in several projects. TenneT is now also investigating the possibility of allowing decentralised, sustainable electrical energy to participate in the Dutch market for automatic Frequency Restoration Reserve (aFRR). The aFRR delivery requires a real-time data connection. Until now, the only secure and reliable option has been the leased line. This is not a problem for large production units, while for new BSPs the purchase of a leased line is a major barrier to entering the aFRR market.

This is where the aFRR pilot project comes in: For the first time, a new type of data connection was successfully used, whereby the data communication between the market participants and TenneT (for activation and measurements) was realised via TenneT’s mobile network. This removed a major obstacle to the provision of aFRR by (new) BSPs and enabled grid balancing by means of horticulturists, electric boilers and car batteries. TenneT will monitor and evaluate the performance of its mobile network in the coming months. If this is successful, the TSO will make the data connection available as soon as possible to all BSPs interested in using it to supply aFRR.

Tomatoes from Dutch greenhouses keeping the grid in balance – TenneT carries out a pilot project to improve data communication for aFRR supply

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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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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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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)

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

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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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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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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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PROMOTioN for a North Sea transmission grid

08.11.2019

“PROgress on Meshed HVDC Offshore Transmission Networks” is a very precise project description but also a bit lengthy. In contrast, the dynamic acronym “PROMOTioN” refers quite well to the ambitions that the consortium members contribute to the research project. General goal of PROMOTioN is the further development of innovative technologies relevant for the deployment of meshed offshore HVDC nets. The more specific objective is to improve cooperation between grid operators and major suppliers of technical architecture and interoperable technologies to accelerate offshore HVDC grid development. PROMOTioN is the largest energy project funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme, with a consortium of 33 partners from 11 countries, including the two TSCNET shareholders Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO.

A report by PROMOTioN has just been published (“Regulatory and financing principles for a meshed HVDC offshore grid”) summarising the principal findings for the design of a legal, regulatory and financial framework for cross-border HVDC offshore connections. The report provides recommendations for policy-makers and other stakeholders for overcoming regulatory and financial obstacles to the realisation of a North Sea transmission system. The key conclusion of the report and of the whole project is that the North Sea riparian states need to establish a harmonised legal and economic framework to fully exploit the potential of a meshed offshore grid in the North Sea.

A distinction is made between short-term and long-term recommendations, each of which is presented very concisely. Short term recommendations include the improvement of governance and regulation of the internal market for (offshore) electricity, optimisation of innovation financing, support for early communication of all parties involved and the formalisation of cross-border cost allocation (CBCA) as a binding contract. The latter aspect is regarded as one of the most important pillars in the economic framework. The most significant long-term recommendation is that EU member states, third countries and the EU should consider adopting a North Sea Treaty containing the objectives and principles of the offshore grid.

Tim Meyerjürgens, COO at TenneT, comments on the PROMOTioN project: “The development of a cross-border HVDC grid is one of the most promising opportunities for a sustainable energy future in Europe. TenneT is cooperating closely with other TSOs to develop the idea of a meshed and efficient offshore grid in the North Sea, which requires the creation of a common regulatory framework. PROMOTioN’s research shows the way to make this happen.”

The PROMOTioN project provides a framework for cross-border HVDC offshore connections (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> Visit PROMOTioN website (html)
> Open PROMOTioN report (pdf, 2MB)

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