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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ELES and Renault cooperate in e-mobility project

09.08.2019

“Demonstration of User-Friendly E-Vehicle Charging Solutions for Promoting Mass Use of E-Vehicles in Europe – INCIT-EV” is the somewhat lengthy but therefore very precise and apposite name of a research project conceived by TSCNET shareholder ELES together with 32 international partners. Probably the most prominent cooperation partner of the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO) is the French multinational automobile manufacturer Renault, but the Italian automotive industry is also actively involved.

The core objective of the project, funded by the EU with around €15m under the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme, is the utilisation of advanced charging infrastructures and technologies and the development of corresponding business models. INCIT-EV is designed in line with the concept of the “E8 E-Vehicle Mass Charging Infrastructure” developed by ELES, which strives to make charging as simple, intuitive, and user-friendly as possible. The aim of the TSO is to extend the Slovenian E8 concept to the European level. The project partners also use neuroscientific techniques to adapt the development of the technology to the unconscious preferences and subjective expectations of e-car users.

ELES and Renault cooperate in e-mobility project (picture: ELES)

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> See ELES press release, in Slovenian (html)

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ČEPS innovation projects

12.06.2019

As European transmission system operators (TSOs), the TSCNET shareholders must adapt to the changing energy landscape and find solutions for a successful sustainable energy future. The Czech TSO ČEPS is no exception to this rule and is actively involved in several innovation projects to respond to changes in the energy industry and to ensure the reliable operation of the Czech power system, as it was now pointed out by Karel Vinkler, director of the Innovation and R&D section of ČEPS. These projects include SecureFlex, MAFRI, Dflex, and BAART, which all are part of the national THÉTA program of the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic to support research in the energy sector.

With the SecureFlex project, ČEPS recognises power flexibility as one of the most important grid stabilisation tools of the future. SecureFlex focuses on developing analysis, calculation and optimisation tools as well as targeted studies that contribute to the secure use of power flexibility in the context of new technologies and market themes. The MAFRI project (Mid-term Adequacy Forecast – Regional Indicators) aims to identify new reliability criteria for the production-capacity-adequacy evaluation. The outcomes of the project can contribute to future decisions on infrastructure investments and restorations.

In the Dflex project, the feasibility of active participation of smaller power sources will be investigated to provide flexibility for the operation and control of the power system. Through aggregation and active decentralised control systems, these energy sources will then be used to stabilise the system. Finally, the BAART project is concerned with the gradual development of the BSAE technology (Battery System Accumulation of Energy) and its potential regarding power balancing. The main purpose of this project, in which a 4 MW battery in the Tušimice power plant is being used, is the development, adaptation and modification of BSAE power balance services and their practical verification.

“ČEPS has been active in the field of innovation, research and development for a long time. The need to innovate comes naturally from the fundamental changes of the present power industry environment,” comments Vinkler.

ČEPS is conducting several innovation projects to respond to changes in the energy industry (picture shows the Czech capital Prague, where the TSO has its headquarters)

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> See ČEPS press release (html)

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AI for decentralised grid stabilisation

06.06.2019

In a sustainable energy future, small decentralised plants such as combined heat and power (CHP) plants, heat pumps or biogas units must assume the role of stabilising the transmission system, a task which is nowadays mainly performed by large, centralised power plants. To investigate the technical feasibility of decentralised stabilisation options, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), the distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk and Consolinno Energy GmbH have now jointly carried out a successful test in the southern part of the TenneT control area, the German federal state of Bavaria.

Since there is a vital public interest in such future-oriented technological solutions, the test was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in the framework of the research project “C/Sells” which is part of the innovation programme “Smart Energy Showcases. Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition” (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie. Digitale Agenda für die Energiewende” – SINTEG). During the test, at the request of TenneT, the feed-in of a CHP plant controlled by Consolinno and connected to the low and medium-voltage grid of Bayernwerk was increased in order to provide the grid with the electricity required for stabilisation in the event of a bottleneck.

What is new is that each plant autonomously determines its flexibility potential through artificial intelligence (AI). The respective potential of the individual plants can then be further aggregated by means of swarm intelligence. The plants are in normal marketing and operation mode and report free flexibility quantities to the grid operators. “In Bavaria alone there are several thousand CHP plants, heat pumps and biogas facilities, nationwide there are many thousands more. They can increase the flexibility of the energy system and thus contribute to a safe and decentralised energy system in Bavaria and Germany. David can thus become Goliath,” comments Tim Meyerjürgens, COO at TenneT. Also in several other cooperative pilot projects, the TSO is exploring the potential of decentralised flexibility.

TenneT has carried out a successful test on the deployment of small decentralised plants for grid stabilisation

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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Energinet explores PtG potentials

22.05.2019

The generation of renewable energy is volatile and the storage of green electricity at times when production exceeds consumption is an ever-increasing challenge for energy market participants. Power to gas (PtG) technologies appear to be particularly effective in compensating for the weather-related volatility of the renewables. Since TSCNET shareholder Energinet is not only the Danish transmission system operator (TSO) for electricity, but also for gas, the company is ideally suited to profoundly evaluate the PtG potential. The Danish national energy goal is a 100% climate-neutral energy system by 2050, and PtG can play an important role in achieving it.

Energinet’s gas grid could be an essential tool for the transmission of solar and wind energy in Denmark’s energy system of the future, as the energy can be stored and transported in the gas pipelines with hydrogen as the energy carrier. To this end, the electricity is converted into hydrogen, which can then be mixed with natural gas. The TSO is currently testing how much hydrogen the gas grid can handle. The tests take place near the West Jutland town of Varde and are part of the “Hydrogen Injection in the Gas Grid” project, in which Energinet is cooperating with the Danish Gas Technology Centre and IRD Fuel Cells.

The gas in the pipelines near Varde is presently mixed with 12% hydrogen, the research target is 15%. At the beginning of the tests in summer 2017, it was only 2%, so the results are promising. „Using hydrogen as an energy carrier allows us to connect the electricity and gas sectors,“ explains Jesper Bruun, project manager at Energinet, and adds: „Once we are able to handle the hydrogen in the gas grid, we will have an extensive and efficient infrastructure in place for transport and storage.“

Energinet is exploring PtG technologies (picture: Energinet)

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> See Energinet press release (html)

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Eco-friendly substation maintenance

13.05.2019

In total, TSCNET shareholder TenneT operates 462 high-voltage substations in the Dutch and German control areas of the binational transmission system operator (TSO). The operation of a high-voltage grid inevitably involves interference with ecosystems, but TenneT is investigating how to minimise and compensate for this. For this reason, the TSO has carried out a pilot project on biodiversity at three substations in the Netherlands.

The results of the pilot are impressive: The nature-friendly maintenance of the three facilities has preserved up to 72 percent of their insect populations. The respective measures to increase biodiversity can easily be replicated. Local seed mixtures were sown, and greens were mown in a meandering manner. Based on these encouraging results, TenneT will promote biodiversity at all of its 462 substations.

TenneT intends to establish biodiversity-friendly management as the corporate standard by 2025. This commitment to biodiversity is part of the TSO’s Corporate Social Responsibility approach for 2025 and reflects the company’s ambition to play a leading role in the energy transition as a “Green Grid Operator”. Ben Voorhorst, member of TenneT’s Executive Board, explains: “With our high voltage connections and stations, in addition to transporting green electricity, we can also contribute to the conservation of nature in another way.”

TenneT is introducing biodiversity-friendly substation maintenance (picture: kie-ker/Pixabay)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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High potential of blockchained home storage systems

09.05.2019

Maintaining the balance of the transmission system despite volatility of renewables and lack of conventional operating reserves is an essential future concern of European transmission system operators (TSOs). In search of adequate balancing solutions, a worldwide unique pilot project for the blockchain-based networking of home storage systems was launched in 2017. The cooperation partners are TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, and sonnen, a company specialised in smart power storage. The promisingly completed pilot demonstrates the potential of blockchain technology to become a key application for the efficient provision of network stabilising measures.

The aim of the pilot was to test the suitability of blockchained storage systems for preventing emergency measures in the event of bottlenecks, e. g. the throttling of wind farms. To this end, TenneT deployed a virtual power station comprising of home storage systems specially provided by sonnen with a blockchain solution by IBM. The intelligent charge management of the battery storage systems adapted itself individually to the respective situation in the TenneT grid, whereby the batteries absorb or release excess current within seconds if required.

Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, comments on the succesful project: “We’ve shown for the first time how it’s technically feasible to utilise blockchain technology so households can stabilise the power grid via their home storage systems.” Actually, the results are so promising that TenneT intends to undertake further blockchain programmes, especially as by 2030 there could already be decentralised battery storage facilities in Germany with a total capacity of up to 10,000MW.

A pilot project by TenneT on blockchained home storage systems for grid stabilisation has proven the high potential of this technological approach (picture: edited screenshot taken from sonnen video “The largest virtual battery to compensate for fluctuations in the power grid”, YouTube)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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66kV technology reduces offshore connection costs

08.05.2019

In future offshore projects, TSCNET shareholder TenneT will continue to reduce grid connection costs through standardisation and innovative technology. For the DolWin5 offshore grid connection in the so-called DolWin cluster in the south-western part of the German Bight, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) has contracted a consortium consisting of Aibel and Keppel FELS with ABB as subcontractor with the design, engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning of a 900MW offshore HVDC converter platform and an onshore converter station.

The outstanding feature of the DolWin5 project is the innovative connection concept. The innovative 66kV technology from TenneT, which will be deployed, represents a new generation of low-cost offshore grid connections. The wind turbines will be directly connected to the offshore platform without the need for separate substations for the wind turbines. This direct connection not only omits any further substations but also the 155kV three-phase power cables for linking the wind farm to the offshore platform. Instead, 66kV three-phase cables will be used.

“With DolWin5 we open a new chapter in offshore grid connection technology: For the first time, the wind turbines are directly connected to our offshore platform,” comments TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens and adds: “This innovative technology results in an enormous cost reduction. The new direct connection will save around €200m in macroeconomic terms.”

TenneT opts for the innovative 66kV three-phase technology for future offshore connections (Picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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BioEnergyTrain reaches its final station

11.04.2019

Concerning its engagement in projects with pan-European value, the Slovenian TSCNET shareholder ELES plays a very committed role as a national transmission system operator (TSO) with international ambitions. Among the European projects in which ELES is involved are FutureFlow for innovative e-trading solutions, MIGRATE for linking generation and consumption via power electronics, DEFENDER for the protection of critical energy infrastructures or the smart grid project SINCRO.GRID.

The first project participation of ELES under the EU Horizon 2020 programme is the BioEnergyTrain (BET). The members of the BET consortium – fifteen partners from six EU countries – recognise the high importance of bioenergy for the low-carbon future and therefore want to tackle the lack of qualified personnel, of coordination between stakeholders and the poor coherence between professional training and industrial needs. They address these issues by creating new postgraduate curricula in key bioenergy disciplines and a network of educational and research institutions, professional associations and industry stakeholders from the entire bioenergy value chain.

In BET, ELES took on the role of head of regional awareness raising, thus successfully finishing the first Horizon 2020 project proposal as the whole project has now been completed after four years of developing innovative educational materials. The main outcome are two new Master programmes at the Graz University of Technology in Austria and at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. The final BET conference took place in Brussels, Belgium on 9 April.

The BioEnergyTrain project for higher education in bioenergy has successfully been concluded (picture: edited screenshot taken from video “BioEnergyTrain – 2 New EU Masters in Bioeconomy”, eseia Team / YouTube)

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

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Research on impacts of underground cabling

04.04.2019

In Germany, it is a political objective to advance the grid expansion by installing underground cables. The Federal Government – and also the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) – hope by this means to increase public acceptance of the high-performance power lines needed to transmit electricity from the windy north of the country to the consumption-intensive south and west. But what the resident population may welcome, unsettles those through whose land the underground routes run, especially owners and cultivators of agricultural land.

The Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT itself would like to learn more about possible impacts of underground cabling on agriculture, for example in terms of soil physics or groundwater quality. The TSO has thus entered into a research cooperation with the Georg-August-University Göttingen. Together with members of the Departments of Agricultural Soil Science as well as Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, subsection Agribusiness Management, the long-term effects of three-phase underground cables on agricultural land will be investigated over a period of six years. For this purpose, a 2500m² test field for the construction and operation of 380kV underground cables is being set up at the Reinshof test farm near Göttingen in the German state of Lower Saxony.

The research partners hope to draw concrete conclusions from the test results for the construction of extra-high voltage underground cable routes as well as recommendations for recultivation measures. For these purposes, the operation of underground cables is simulated on the test field. Empty conduits are heated through heating tapes so that their thermal characteristics correspond to the power loss of real 380kV three-phase underground cables. In addition, the effects of the construction works are investigated. In this context, it is also of interest how long it takes until the original soil condition is restored.

TenneT is researching the long-term impacts of underground power transmission cables on agricultural land (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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