Amprion: “Smart Valve” for flexible power flow control

05.08.2020

To maintain the stability of the transmission grid despite the current increase in decentralised and volatile generation, the German transmission system operator (TSO) Amprion – like many other TSCNET shareholders – is already using a wide range of innovative technologies, for instance Phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) or reactive power compensation systems such as Statcom. A promising pilot project has now additionally been launched, for which Amprion has signed a cooperation agreement with the US Silicon Valley company, Smart Wires. In the three-phase project, the mobile modular static-synchronous series compensator (mSSSC) developed by Smart Wires, the so called SmartValve, will be deployed in the Amprion grid.

The aim of the project is both to increase the transmission capacity of Amprion’s transmission grid and to maintain its high level of system stability. SmartValve is designed for a more balanced and thus more efficient use of power lines. By actively changing the power flows, it enables better control of the transmission system and minimises redispatch. Due to its modular structure, SmartValve is easy to transport and can be operated flexibly at different locations. This distinguishes the new technology from conventional PSTs, for example, making it an ideal complement to support the system from a stability perspective.

Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, refers in this context to the significantly increased costs for redispatch in Germany in recent years due to the changes in the energy landscape. This is where the SmartValve project comes in: “We see this innovative technology as having the potential to allow us to use the network more efficiently and reduce the need for redispatch.” The two partners expect the project to span two to three years to verify the added value of the new technology in the Amprion grid.

Amprion and Smart Wires launched a pilot project to implement the SmartValve solution in the transmission grid (picture: Smart Wires)

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> See Amprion press release (html)

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Awards for ELES smart grid projects

30.07.2020

The International Smart Grids Action Network (ISGAN) is a technology cooperation programme on smart grids by the International Energy Agency (IEA). ISGAN provides a strategic platform to raise awareness and to stimulate action by high level governments for accelerated development and deployment of smart and clean electricity grids around the world. ISGAN initiatives include the annual ISGAN Award of Excellence in “Digitalization Enabling Consumer Empowerment”. On 28 July, the jury announced the winners of the 6th ISGAN Award, which focuses on digitisation at global level and for which nominations have been received from around the world. The first and second prizes were awarded to two projects in which TSCNET shareholder ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO), is significantly involved.

The first place goes to the NEDO project, a Japanese-Slovenian initiative whose main partners, besides ELES, are the Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) and the multinational conglomerate Hitachi. The NEDO project introduces integrated and centrally managed cloud-based solutions to make better use of the existing network and provide customers with a higher quality electricity supply and the opportunity to actively participate in electricity markets and systemic services. ELES decided at the end of 2015 to participate in the project, whose main responsible partner, the namesake agency NEDO, received the award on behalf of the consortium.

The award for FutureFlow, which took second place, was received by ELES itself. The international project was conceived by ELES experts and involves twelve partners from eight European countries. The project implements innovative e-trading solutions for smart cross-border balancing and redispatching in the control areas of four central and southern European TSOs, which are all shareholders of TSCNET. Besides the project leader ELES, the other TSO participants are APG from Austria, MAVIR from Hungary, and Transelectrica from Romania. FutureFlow was launched in 2016 and successfully concluded in December 2019. Pilot tests in real time have proven that also small businesses and power generation units can be a reliable source of flexibility to maintain the balance in the electricity system. The project was funded by the EU under the Horizon 2020 programme, in fact, it was the largest research project financed under Horizon 2020.

The ISGAN Award 2020 is exceptional in that it is the first time that one company receives two awards. After the announcement, the CEO of ELES, Aleksander Mervar, commented that with these two awards, ELES has obtained great international recognition for its activities in the field of innovation and development of smart networks. Mr Mervar complimented the partners in both consortia. By dedicating the two awards to all those who participated in both projects, he acknowledged their outstanding performance.

ELES received two ISGAN Awards 2020 for the smart grid initiatives FutureFlow and NEDO Project (picture: ELES)

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> See ELES press release (html)
> Visit ISGAN Award 2020 website (html)

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TenneT records 21% increase in offshore transmission

28.07.2020

In the first half of 2020, the wind energy transmitted from the North Sea ashore by the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT rose to 11.51TWh. This represents an increase of 21.1% compared with the 9.51TWh in the first half of 2019, bringing the North Sea’s share of total wind power generation in Germany to 15.6%. The maximum feed-in volume from offshore wind farms in the German North Sea was 6,035MW on 2 January 2020. By 30 June, the generation capacity of the German North Sea wind farms reached 6,679MW, a volume which is exceeded by TenneT’s offshore transmission capacity of 7,132MW. This amount, which is higher than the German government’s 2020 target (6.5GW for the North and Baltic Seas combined), is currently being achieved with twelve German offshore grid connections.

Tim Meyerjürgens, COO of the TSCNET shareholder, comments on the impressive figures: „The expansion and integration of offshore wind energy is of central importance for the European energy transition.” And offshore development is also keeping pace in the Dutch market: “With Borssele alpha and – from mid-August – Borssele beta, we have now also successfully completed the first two offshore connections in the Dutch North Sea.” TenneT promotes capacity expansion with technical innovations and, according to Meyerjürgens, wants to remain a driving force in the offshore sector: “Ever since TenneT set the standard for plastic-insulated DC cables at 320kV in the offshore sector around ten years ago, we have been defining a new global benchmark for the future with our 525kV DC subsea cable system and its transmission capacity of two GW.”

The 525kV development programme should lead to a standardised cable system that the TSO can employ by 2030 for the three German North Sea projects BalWin1, BalWin2, BalWin3 and the two Dutch projects IJmuiden Ver alpha and beta as well as in potential further projects of equal power and voltage. TenneT is expecting lower costs, greater security of supply and less impact on the environment. These efforts require considerable investment: “We have an investment programme of around €20bn earmarked for connecting offshore wind energy in the Netherlands and Germany by 2030,” explains Meyerjürgens. Important in this context are also hydrogen and hybrid initiatives. The North Sea Wind Power Hubs proposed by TenneT explicitly include power to gas concepts. Furthermore, in June, TenneT proposed to the EU and the Dutch and German governments an integrated energy system approach for the international offshore development.

TenneT increased its transmission of offshore wind energy by 21% in the first half of 2020 (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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Smart control of heat pumps – HeatFlex expands

08.07.2020

Launched in the summer of 2018, the HeatFlex research project aims to exploit the potential for grid stabilisation that small and decentralised consumer devices can offer – if actively involved in the stabilising process. The founding project members are TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), and the southern German distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk Netz. Following the successful cooperation and positive test results, TenneT and Bayernwerk Netz are now expanding the project. The grid operators are pleased to welcome three new project partners: the DSO Regensburg Netz as well as the public utilities Stadtwerk Haßfurt and SWW Wunsiedel.

With HeatFlex, TenneT and Bayernwerk are jointly researching the most effective integration of decentralised devices – such as electric storage heaters, heat pumps, and water heaters – into grid balancing. These flexible capacities are intended to avoid cost-intensive interventions by the TSO in the case of future grid bottlenecks. Since November 2019, the project partners have already been implementing the first concrete measures based on HeatFlex results: The heat pumps and direct heating systems connected to Bayernwerk Netz are being intelligently controlled for bottleneck prevention. Decentralised heating systems are thus partially taking over the stabilising function of fossil plants. Using ripple control technology already in place, no additional investments are required.

The increase in partners should serve to make intelligent use of even more local flexibility and to investigate further controllable, decentralised consumption units and alternative applications. The ultimate aims of HeatFlex are cost savings, reduction of grid extension, and the acceleration of the energy transition without jeopardising system security. “The intelligent control of the smallest, decentralised electricity consumption units is a small but essential element,” explains TenneT Managing Director Tim Meyerjürgens, “because the many pieces of the puzzle together make up the overall picture of the energy transition”.

The research project HeatFlex is extended with three additional partners (picture: Stiebel Eltron)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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RDI Roadmap and TYNDP 2020: consultation and webinars

30.06.2020

The Ten-Year Network Development Plans (TYNDPs) are biennial publications of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) and for Gas (ENTSOG). The TYNDPs are considered by the European Commission (EC) when selecting Projects of Common Interest (PCIs). ENTSO-E and ENTSOG are obliged to develop scenarios for the TYNDPs, and in the case of TYNDP 2020, the two organisations have worked together on these scenarios for the second time. The scenarios should not only identify the future demand for electricity and gas infrastructures and projects, but also survey and assess the interactions in a hybrid energy system between the gas and electricity sectors.

The ENTSOs now have presented the final version of the scenarios. The supply and demand data collected by the member transmission system operators (TSOs) for gas and electricity are used to create the central “National Trends” scenario, which reflects the national energy and climate plans of individual member states and recognises the EU climate targets. The “Global Ambition” and “Distributed Energy” scenarios are designed as comprehensive energy scenarios in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. They also consider the EU-27 efforts to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050. Laurent Schmitt, Secretary General of ENTSO-E, defines these scenarios as “a comprehensive, reliable and contrasted set of possible energy futures that will allow ENTSO-E and ENTSOG to perform a sound assessment of European infrastructure projects in the TYNDPs”.

There is another ENTSO-E project related to the European Green Deal and its goal of climate neutrality by 2050, and that is the Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) Roadmap 2020-2030. In line with the requirements of the EU Clean Energy Package, the RDI Roadmap combines the opportunities offered by technological trends, the needs of TSOs related to grid operation and market development, and the input from the policy objectives of the EC and other stakeholders.

The Roadmap identifies three major areas for RDI – Integrated Systems, Power Grid, and Cyber Physical System – and six European innovation flagships addressing them: cross-sector integration, deep electrification, grid use and development for a pan-EU market, large-scale offshore wind energy integration, secure operation of a widespread hybrid AC/DC grid, and control centre operations and interoperability. It is understood that TSOs in the electricity sector act as catalysts for committed and flexible innovation strategies and that they have already demonstrated their determination to coordinate individual efforts to implement the Green Deal and related policies.

The ENTSO-E RDI Roadmap 2020-2030 is open for consultation until 10 August and will then be submitted to the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) for its opinion. ENTSO-E will organise webinars on both, Roadmap and TYNDP Scenarios, on 2 July and 3 July, respectively.

ENTSO-E has opened a consultation on the RDI Roadmap 2020-2030 and is organising webinars on the Roadmap as well as on the TYNDP 2020 Scenarios (picture: ENTSO-E)

Linkup
> See ENTSO-E press release on TYNDP Scenarios (html)
> See ENTSO-E press release on RDI Roadmap (html)
> Visit TYNDP 2020 Scenario website (html)
> Open TYNDP 2020 Scenario Report (pdf, 7.28MB)
> Open RDI Roadmap (pdf, 4.83MB)
> Access to RDI Roadmap consultation (html)
> Register for Scenario webinar (html)
> Register for Roadmap webinar (html)

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Virtual InnoGrid focuses on Green Deal

19.06.2020

Grid innovators usually meet once a year in Brussels to participate in InnoGrid2020+, the European event for research, development, and innovation (RDI) in the field of power transmission. Despite the continued commitment of the European transmission system operators (TSOs) to RDI and the energy transition during the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s Innogrid2020+ must be conducted virtually. The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) and the European Distribution System Operators’ association (EDSO) have thus organised two InnoGrid webinars to showcase the latest innovations and to present some of the key research and development projects in Europe. The first webinar, attended by 350 people, took place on 18 June, and the second will follow on 30 June (11-13 CET).

The motto of the online events is: “Why power networks innovation is key for bringing the European Green Deal from promise to practice”. The first webinar provided ideas and projects that help to make the Green Deal a reality, especially by facilitating the integration of renewable energies. In addition to technical approaches and projects, political and regulatory framework conditions were also discussed. In his assessment of the development from an ENTSO-E perspective, Uroš Salobir, Director of the Strategic Innovation Department at TSCNET shareholder ELES, the Slovenian TSO, and ENTSO-E Vice Chair of the RDI Committee, commented: “The future energy system will be a system of interconnected systems, with deeper electrification and smart sector integration. In this future, electricity becomes a dominant vector and system operators, key facilitators.” On behalf of European TSOs, Mr Salobir concluded: “We stand ready to support the European green recovery especially through innovation and developing the cyber-physical system.”

Reservations for the second session on 30 June are still welcome. Among other topics, Michela Marasco, Policy Officer-DG Energy at the European Commission, will speak on the RDI dimension of the Green Deal. Jan Kostevc, Infrastructure Regulation Officer at the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), will focus on innovations from the efficiency perspective and Hakon Borgen, Chair of the ENTSO-E RDI Committee, will present the ENTSO-E RDI Roadmap 2020-2030.

This year’s InnoGrid2020+ on the relevance of grid innovation for the European Green Deal is held as a webinar 

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> See Innogrid2020+ website, with access to registration and presentations (html)

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Launch of the Equigy balancing platform

25.04.2020

To ensure the stability of the grid frequency, transmission system operators (TSOs) all over Europe respond to the increasingly volatile generation of energy from renewable sources and to the loss of reactive power from large power plants. The challenge of keeping production and consumption in balance does not stop at national borders, for which reason the TSCNET shareholders Swissgrid, the TSO from Switzerland, and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, are cooperating with the Italian TSO Terna in the crowd balancing platform Equigy. The platform is based on blockchain technology and the internet of things. It is conceived as digital link between the so-called TSO ancillary service markets and the market players that deliver balancing services. TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish TSO, has formally expressed its intention to join the consortium, which would extend Equigy’s roll-out to Denmark.

With their cross-border cooperation, the consortium of Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna wants to set a new electricity-balancing standard, improve the integration of renewables, and provide more flexibility to reduce the renewables’ random impact on the grid. As with previous, regionally limited balancing projects, Equigy aims to unlock flexibility by actively involving small and distributed consumer-based generation and consumption units in grid stabilisation. This involvement enables owners of small-scale assets to play a key role in the transformation of the energy sector by optimising their interaction with the grid. Since Equigy processes multiple small transactions, it requires a secure and scalable solution that ensures trust and transparency between all parties involved. The common vision of the participating TSOs is clear: Millions of households will stabilise the electricity grid in the future.

Open and free of charge
Equigy is based on block chain technology to execute transactions from millions of individual systems securely, cost-effectively, and transparently. This creates a single, immutable, and secure data source from which all parties can benefit. Precise rules and regulations allow consumers, businesses, and manufacturers to easily market the flexible capacity of electric vehicles, household batteries, and heat pumps in all participating countries, regardless of location, thereby simplifying access to the electricity market. At the same time, all local or regional flexibility platforms can be connected to the Equigy platform so that as much flexibility as possible can be bundled. This means: Equigy is not exclusive and can be integrated into existing grid stabilisation processes. The technology and software are open-source and provided free of charge to promote the development of secondary applications in the energy value chain. Equigy has now been successfully launched, and the pilot project to test the technology will run until the end of 2020.

In Switzerland, the project has attracted a lot of interest. Numerous partners have expressed an interest in participating. Yves Zumwald, CEO of Swissgrid, comments: “We are proud to be a founding partner of Equigy. It’s only natural that this ambitious initiative is being driven by TSOs. We are not subject to commercial constraints and are able to operate the new platform adopting a neutral position.” Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, can also be pleased to have various Equigy partners in Germany and the Netherlands. She emphasises the European dimension of the project: “Equigy originated from European cooperation. In a common European market, we will have to develop solutions together. We already have the same sockets. It would be a shame and unnecessarily expensive to develop different systems.”

Expansion to the north
The Danish TSO Energinet recognises the potential of Equigy and is highly interested in participating. The consortium behind Equigy appreciates this interest. Swissgrid, TenneT, Terna, and Energinet have thus signed a Letter of Intent in which the parties confirm their common interest in including Energinet in Equigy. Energinet will now examine the possibilities of becoming part of the cooperation. All partners aim to take a decision on Energinet’s accession before the end of this year. Søren Dupont Kristensen, CEO of Energinet Electricity System Operator, explains: “We are now investigating the potential of this platform in the context of the Danish energy system. Based on our findings, we will decide on joining the collaboration regarding the platform.”

The blockchain based crowd balancing platform Equigy has been launched by Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna

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> See Energinet news release (html)
> See Swissgrid news release (html)
> See TenneT news release (html)
> Visit Equigy website (html)

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TransnetBW presents foresight on the power grid 2050

24.04.2020

TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), presented its study “Electricity Grid 2050” (“Stromnetz 2050”) in a Twitter online event on 22 April. The study, in which the TSCNET shareholder drafts a scenario for a largely climate-neutral energy system in Germany and Europe, is now available to anyone interested. The TSO outlines a target vision of the German energy system after the climate protection and energy transition goals have been achieved and indicates, which requirements must be met at system and grid level in a sustainable energy future.

The live-stream presentation of the study, followed by an online question and answer session, was hosted by Michael Jesberger, member of the TransnetBW executive board, together with Christian Schorn, Head of Asset Management & Operations at TransnetBW, Dr. Felix Matthes, research coordinator for energy and climate policy at the Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology, a non-profit, private-sector environmental research institute) and Helmfried Meinel, Ministerial Director of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector.

“The energy transition is progressing, and climate policy goals have been set: By 2050, the energy system in Germany should be largely climate-neutral. The transmission grid plays a decisive role in this,” explained Michael Jesberger. “With the study ‘Electricity Grid 2050’, we are revealing how a greenhouse gas-neutral energy system can look like.” By considering the time after the climate targets are reached, the study extends the time frame beyond the requirements of national planning guidelines. “With this approach of thinking the energy transition from the end, the study provides a new basis for discussion of the methodological refinement of the German Network Development Plan (NEP), which so far only plans the transmission grids ten to 15 years in advance,” stated Christian Schorn.

According to the study, it is necessary to increase the installed capacity of wind energy and photovoltaic systems by three to four times compared to 2018 to achieve the energy and climate policy goals by 2050. In addition, the heating and transport sector will have to be largely electrified, which will lead to an increase in net electricity demand of over 50%. This will only be partially compensated by the integration of the European internal electricity market and the increasing cross-border electricity trade. Hence, the transmission grid planned in the NEP is not sufficient to achieve the energy goals. The integration of renewable energies requires a set of grid extension measures that goes far beyond the previous plans. The study “Electricity Grid 2050” offers a new level of detail of the future grid and is intended to stimulate a fruitful debate.

TransnetBW has presented an in-depth study on the future electricity infrastructure (picture of Michael Jesberger, Managing Director at TransnetBW: screenshot of the study’s online presentation)

Linkup
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> Visit Stromnetz 2050 website, in German (html)
> Download Stromnetz 2050 study, in German (pdf, 22.79MB)

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TenneT develops 525kV HVDC offshore cable system

20.04.2020

In just 10 years, 40% of the Dutch electricity demand will be covered by offshore wind power. Furthermore, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT will increase the German offshore grid connection capacity to 17GW by 2030. To meet these high ambitions, the TSCNET shareholder expands its current connection plans and additionally intends to implement a total of five 2GW offshore connections in the Dutch IJmuiden Ver wind energy area and in the German LanWin and BalWin areas. However, since such 2GW offshore grid connections do not yet exist, innovative project development is necessary.

The integration of 2GW offshore grid connections into the onshore grid requires a suitable certified cable system that operates at a voltage level of 525kV DC using extruded insulation types. TenneT has contracted a total of eight cable suppliers to develop these “next-level” submarine cables for the intended high-performance offshore connections. An extruded 525kV high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable system with a 2GW output is currently not implemented in any project worldwide and would thus set a new standard for the connection of offshore wind farms.

The new cable system is expected to reduce manufacturing and installation costs for the entire connection concept, including the HVDC offshore and onshore transformer stations. A reduction in dredging costs is also anticipated, as all cables can be laid in a single trench. Moreover, fewer offshore platforms and shore stations are required, resulting in lower emissions and environmental impact. The adoption of a 525kV 2GW grid concept is a logical step for TenneT after the installation of eight standard AC connections in the Netherlands. The TSO can already draw on extensive experience with DC projects in Germany.

TenneT has contracted eight cable suppliers to develop a 525kV HVDC offshore cable system with a 2GW capacity (exemplary picture of Riffgat cables: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)

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TransnetBW study presentation as online event

16.04.2020

Challenging times demand creative solutions: TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), will present its study “Electricity Grid 2050” in a Twitter online event. In the study, the TSCNET shareholder develops a vision for a largely greenhouse gas-neutral energy system in Germany and Europe. TransnetBW extends the time perspective beyond the requirements of national planning guidelines and investigates what the energy system in Germany will look like once the energy and climate protection targets have been implemented. Obviously, a decisive issue for a TSO in this respect is how the appropriate grid infrastructure should develop by 2050.

The emphasis on the electricity infrastructure is fundamental for TransnetBW, because while the standards for the energy system in the year 2050 have already been determined – greenhouse gas neutrality in Germany and Europe – the planning of a demand-oriented grid in the German Network Development Plan for Electricity (NEP) is only carried out step by step and with a focus on the next 10 to 15 years. In contrast, TransnetBW is now presenting a “top down” view of the needed grid structure, which is new in its level of detail. The study also offers the opportunity to examine the transmission system designed in the NEP for its long-term sustainability.

TransnetBW is looking forward to presenting the study to all interested parties online instead of the originally intended personal presentation. The German-language livestream will start on 22 April 2020 at 10:30 a.m. under the Twitter hashtag #Stromnetz2050. Afterwards there will be the opportunity to discuss the study results live in an open question and answer session.

TransnetBW will present its vision of the future electricity infrastructure in a Twitter event on 22 April

Linkup
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> Direct link to Stromnetz 2050 Twitter event, in German (html)

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