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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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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First capacity offers on WindNODE platform

17.03.2019

Today’s energy market, with its ever-increasing share of volatile quantities of electricity from renewable sources, demands optimum capacity utilisation and systematic use of flexibility – already now and even more so in the future. To be well prepared for the challenges ahead, more than 70 partners from all over eastern Germany are working on the WindNODE project, including TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, the German transmission system operator (TSO) responsible for the region. A core component of WindNODE is the flexibility platform, through which regional producers, consumers, and storage operators offer TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs) flexible use of their facilities. This is intended to reduce the throttling of wind turbines in the event of grid bottlenecks.

The WindNODE flexibility platform has been in trial operation since November 2018. On 14 March 2019, capacities were offered and called up for the first time. “This means that the trial operation is now entering the practical phase and we can demonstrate that the integration of numerous producers, storage facilities and consumers in one market environment leads to less throttling of renewables – especially now in a very windy season,” explains Georg Meyer-Braune, project manager WindNODE at 50Hertz. The test phase of the platform will last until summer 2019 and processes will be gradually established at further partners, who will thus become potential suppliers. The platform will then be in continuous operation until the end of the project term in 2020. The aim is to use the dedicated facilities for congestion management also after the completion of the WindNODE project.

The first capacities have been offered and called up on the WindNODE flexibility platform (illustration using a screenshot taken from video “Die WindNODE-Flexibilitätsplattform erklärt”, 50Hertz – YouTube)

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Hybridge to couple energy sectors

11.02.2019

Last summer, TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) for electricity, and Open Grid Europe (OGE), German TSO for natural gas, announced a collaboration in the field of sector coupling by means of power to gas (PtG) facilities. PtG technologies offer promising perspectives for a low-carbon energy future. Now the two partners are ready to launch the sector coupling at system level in Germany with the project “hybridge” comprising an electrolyser in the 100MW class and a hydrogen infrastructure.

At a joint press conference on 11 February in the German capital of Berlin, the current status of hybridge and further steps were presented. Since the partners, who estimate the costs for the entire project at €150m, are ready to enter the approval phase, Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, explained that the regulatory framework must now be set up quickly. The more so, as it is crucial for the German climate targets that PtG is available in the GW range from 2030. “The ball is in the court of politics. If the course is set now, the plant can already go into operation in 2023,” commented Dr. Kleinekorte.

The ideal location for the first PtG plant in the projected size, in which electricity from renewable energies is converted into green hydrogen and partly further into green methane via an electrolyser, was found at an intersection between the Amprion and OGE grids in the district of Emsland in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony. The regional natural gas storage facilities, which can be converted to hydrogen in the future, also contribute to optimal conditions for the development of a hydrogen grid to complement the 100MW electrolyser. Amprion and OGE intend to further develop an existing OGE pipeline for the exclusive transport of hydrogen. The concept of Amprion and OGE for sector coupling at system level also includes non-discriminatory third-party access for all market participants to the planned grid coupling infrastructure.

Amprion and the gas-TSO Open Grid Europe are ready to launch their joint sector coupling project “hybridge” (picture: Amprion; from left to right: Dr. Thomas Hüwener, Member of the OGE Management Board, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion)

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Automobile batteries to stabilise the grid

07.02.2019

Automobile battery storage systems can be employed for system stabilisation and thus substitute large power plants. This is the encouraging result of a joint research project successfully conducted by the Daimler subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Energy and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The pilot was carried out in the Daimler battery test laboratory in Kamenz, a small Saxon town near Dresden, with funds from the innovation programme “Smart Energy Showcases. Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition” (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie. Digitale Agenda für die Energiewende” – SINTEG) initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The impetus for this research, as well as for other TenneT innovation projects, derives from the energy transition, which has brought about two decisive changes for the TSOs: the loss of reactive power due to the shutdown of large power plants and the volatility of renewable energy generation. Still, generation and consumption need to be balanced in the grid in order to maintain the 50Hz frequency. In this respect, vehicle-to-grid technologies are a promising approach to providing enough primary balancing power.

The prototype storage system installed in the laboratory is based on lithium-ion automobile batteries with a total connected load of approx. 1MW and a storage capacity of 750kWh. It is connected to a specifically constructed test grid. The test runs in Kamenz have shown that such battery storage systems are suitable for highly dynamic system support, since they respond to a frequency deviation in less than 100 milliseconds. They are also employable for system recovery, even for the start-up of entire power stations, e.g. after a major power failure. In this case, they can function as a kind of starter battery and restart the inert rotating masses of a power station. The project partners verified this by simulating a power failure in the test grid, which was restored afterwards with the automobile battery storage system.

TenneT and Mercedes-Benz Energy have conducted a research project on the use of automobile battery systems for grid stabilisation (illustration using a picture provided by Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH)

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TenneT performs blockchain pilots successfully

29.01.2019

The energy transition demands digital transition – the number of renewable sources is increasing, while in the future there will be less and less conventional plants available to ensure the required flexibility and stability in the grid for which the transmission system operators (TSOs) are responsible. As such, the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT is constantly seeking new decentralised sources that can replace lost flexibility. In addition to wind and solar energy, these can include batteries, industrial plants or cogeneration. This is where digitisation comes in, because only through so-called “aggregator” and block chain technology the capacity and potential of all these sources can be combined and fully utilised.

TenneT has launched two pilot projects last year, one in the Netherlands and one in Germany, both employing blockchain technology. In the first case, e-vehicles and in the second case household batteries were used to balance the grid and avoid congestions. The blockchain application is an IBM development and the Dutch green electricity supplier Vandebron is the cooperation partner in the Netherlands. Vandebron provides battery capacity from e-car charging sessions at TenneT’s request. In this way, the TSO can draw on an additional electricity pool. In Germany, TenneT collaborates with Sonnen E-services, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Decentralised household batteries from Sonnen are integrated into the TenneT network via a blockchain and interconnected. Through the smart use of these batteries, Sonnen contributes to facilitating power transmission in Germany.

Since both blockchain tests were successful, TenneT and IBM have signed a contract for the further development of blockchain technology. The companies will intensify the implementation so that many more parties can gain access to the electricity market. Three new partners have already been won as additional “aggregators” to ensure improved matching of electricity supply and demand. TenneT CEO Manon van Beek explains that the TSO offers not only “a new way of integrating decentralised sources”, but also “private individuals a good opportunity to participate actively in the energy transition, making the energy transition more affordable together”.

TenneT has successfully conducted two blockchain research pilot projects (picture: Sonnen GmbH)

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MIGRATE and PROMOTioN workshop in Berlin

22.01.2019

The consortia of two innovative grid-related research projects funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme – MIGRATE and PROMOTioN – invite to their first joint workshop entitled “Technical challenges and recommendations for the future European power grid”. Both projects aim to maintain security of supply, grid stability and reliability in times of large scale renewable energy integration. The event takes place on 28 February 2019 at the Maritim Hotel near the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of the German capital of Berlin.

The MIGRATE project (“Massive InteGRATion of power Electronic devices”) comprises 23 partners from 13 European countries, including the transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders Amprion (Germany), ELES (Slovenia), and TenneT (Germany and the Netherlands). The aim of MIGRATE is to explore technology-based solutions for the current and future technological challenges to the transmission system, in particular by linking generation and consumption via power electronics.

The PROMOTioN project (“PROgress on Meshed HVDC Offshore Transmission Networks”) seeks to further develop innovative technologies relevant for the deployment of meshed offshore HVDC grids. Its specific objective is to improve the cooperation between grid operators and major suppliers for a technical architecture and interoperable technologies to accelerate HVDC grid development. As the largest energy project in Horizon, the consortium includes 33 partners from 11 countries, among them TenneT and further TSCNET shareholder Energinet, the Danish TSO.

The first joined workshop of the European research projects MIGRATE and PROMOTioN will be held in Berlin on 28 February

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EU supports research on power system interfaces

17.01.2019

After implementing the network codes and the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package, the European Commission is now funding INTERRFACE under the Horizon 2020 programme. The aim of this research project is to create new connections/interfaces in the power system. INTERRFACE has now been launched and will run for three years with a budget of €21m. It involves 42 partners from grid and market operators, aggregators, service and technology providers as well as universities.

The consortium includes the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSOE) and the two TSCNET shareholders ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO), and Transelectrica, the TSO from Romania. Together with their partners, they plan to develop an Interoperable pan-European Grid Services Architecture to serve as an interface between customers and power system operators – TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs) – to allow seamless, transparent and non-discriminatory exchange of energy services.

INTERRFACE is intended to demonstrate the added value of data exchange between all players involved in the value chain of the electricity system, and this from local, regional to EU level. This would be a first in the energy sector. INTERRFACE should also enable TSOs, DSOs and customers to fully exploit and coordinate the potential of decentralised energy resources.

The European Commission is funding a research project on creating a Interoperable pan-European Grid Services Architecture

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Successful tests for the HeatFlex project

15.01.2019

Volatile and decentralised energy generation is an essential characteristic of the energy future. What is at first an evident risk to grid stability, could also prove to be an opportunity for smart and flexible grid management, since small and decentralised consumption devices, if actively involved, could even help to stabilise the grid. In order to explore this potential, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and the southern German distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk Netz GmbH have launched HeatFlex last summer, a research project to increase the flexibility and stability of the entire transmission system.

TenneT and Bayernwerk jointly investigate how decentralised devices can be involved most effectively. The power users that HeatFlex is concerned with are, for example, electric storage heaters, heat pumps, water heaters and potentially also electric vehicles in the Bayernwerk area. They can be controlled by the DSO using ripple control. If a bottleneck in the transmission grid is to be expected, for instance due to a lot of wind power, decentralised consumption devices are used for grid control: At TenneT’s request, they will be triggered by Bayernwerk and then cease consuming too much electricity but instead supply the grid with the necessary electricity for stabilisation.

There are over 170,000 decentralised controllable devices with a total capacity of around 200MW in the Bayernwerk distribution area. A first test in summer already proved the technical feasibility of HeatFlex in cases of real bottleneck situations. It turned out that the communication between the control centres of both operators worked quickly and efficiently. “With this project, we are testing solutions for tomorrow already today. HeatFlex is one of the pilot projects with which we are investigating which decentralised flexibilities we can use in the future to stabilise the grid. These include, for example, projects with power-to-gas, with bidirectionally chargeable electric vehicles or with home storage and blockchain technology,” explains TenneT Managing Director Wilfried Breuer.

HeatFlex, the joint research project of TenneT and Bayernwerk on flexible grid control, is making progress (picture: Bayernwerk AG)

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Increase in North Sea capacities

11.01.2019

In terms of the “wind harvest” in the German control area of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, 2018 has been yet another record-breaking year. The result in 2018 exceeded the previous year’s figure by 4.9 percent. The wind energy transmitted from the North Sea by the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) amounted to 16.75TWh in 2018 – a new record. This was made possible by a total transmission capacity of 6,232MW provided by altogether eleven offshore connection systems, which have by now been connected to the onshore grid by TenneT.

That is more than in line with the German political targets. “With this, TenneT has now almost entirely achieved the federal government’s expansion goal of having 6,500MW of offshore wind capacity by 2020,” comments TenneT Managing Director Wilfried Breuer. And what’s more: “Already this year, TenneT will exceed this goal since the completion of BorWin3 in the course of 2019 will put a total of 7,132MW of transmission capacity into operation in the North Sea alone.”

In addition to the company’s infrastructural efforts, TenneT pursues numerous innovative technological approaches. A current example in the offshore sector is the planned 66kV technology, which will be used for the future TenneT offshore connections DolWin5 and BorWin5. 66kV technology can reduce investment and operational costs by millions as it supersedes offshore transformer platforms and significantly reduces the amount of cables required to connect individual turbine systems.

TenneT has increased its offshore transmission capacity from the German North Sea (picture: TenneT)

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