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)

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

See article on single page

SVC for SINCRO.GRID in Konjsko

02.07.2020

As in many parts of Europe, the increasing integration of decentralised, volatile renewable energy sources has also led in Croatia and Slovenia to a lack of flexibility and reactive power. The two TSCNET shareholders HOPS, the transmission system operator (TSO) from Croatia, and ELES, the Slovenian TSO, react to this with their joint project SINCRO.GRID that also involves two distribution system operators (DSOs) from the respective countries. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) aims to optimise the efficiency of the two national electricity transmission networks through advanced technologies and innovative data processing methods. These include compensation devices, a dynamic thermal rating system, a battery power storage system, and a virtual cross-border control centre.

The start of construction of a static VAR compensator (SVC) in the Dalmatian substation in Konjsko on 30 June represents another significant milestone in the implementation of SINCRO.GRID. This state-of-the-art compensation system will support HOPS in actively controlling the reactive power flows in the Croatian power grid. The ceremony to mark the construction start was attended by high-ranking representatives of the Croatian government and the energy companies involved.

In addition to the SVC in Konjsko, SINCRO.GRID comprises three further main elements in Croatia: a variable shunt reactor (VSR) in the Mraclin substation near Zagreb, which was commissioned in January 2020, another VSR in the Melina substation, which is scheduled to be commissioned at the end of 2020, and finally a joint Croatian-Slovenian virtual control centre. Tomislav Plavšić, President of the HOPS Management Board, describes the latter as a unique solution for coordinated voltage regulation on the entire territory of both countries. The principal task of the binational virtual centre is to integrate three devices each in Croatia and Slovenia for reactive power compensation into one common operation to fully exploit their synergy potential.

HOPS has commenced construction of a SVC as part of the SINCRO.GRID project in Konjsko (picture with Tomislav Plavšić in the foreground: HOPS)

Linkup
> See HOPS press release, in Croatian (html)
> Visit SINCRO.GRID website (html)

See article on single page

Redispatch harmonisation in Germany

26.06.2020

Up until now, redispatch measures between the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) – 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT, and TransnetBW – and the operators of power plants and storage facilities with a capacity of more than 10MW have been carried out on the basis of IT tools specific to the particular TSO control area. In order to align the individual procedures nationwide, the four TSCNET shareholders on 26 June successfully put the first component of their joint redispatch platform into operation, the “Redispatch Settlement Server” (“Redispatch-Abwicklungsserver” – RAS).

The German electricity market is increasingly characterised by volatile generation and RAS is an instrument to initiate redispatch measures both faster and more flexibly. With harmonised data formats and processes, the redispatch platform, of which the RAS is the first part, provides the basis for the integration of renewable energies into the existing redispatch processes, that is, for future-proof congestion management. In concrete terms, RAS allows TSO control centres to monitor and process all relevant power plant interventions. As a result, TSOs can coordinate their redispatch decisions and activities more efficiently. Moreover, the central management introduces frictionless settlement and transparency processes.

The second part of the redispatch platform is the “Redispatch Determination Server” (“Redispatch-Ermittlungsserver” – RES). RES will complement or replace existing forecasting tools for expectable grid situations such as imminent bottlenecks. It will identify those options for action that are compliant with the regulations and most cost-efficient. Based on RES calculations, TSOs can resolve both predicted and existing grid congestions more efficiently than today. RES is scheduled to go into operation in 2021.

The four German TSOs have succesfully launched RAS, a joint server for redispatch settlement

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

See article on single page

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

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

See article on single page

Swissgrid: Solid figures to promote innovation

23.04.2020

The primary content of the Annual Report 2019 just published by the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) Swissgrid is summarised by Yves Zumwald, CEO of the TSCNET shareholder, as follows: “In a challenging year, Swissgrid laid the foundation to successfully meet the challenges of the energy future in Switzerland and in Europe.” These foundations include the expansion of the grid even against possible resistance, the strengthening of international cooperation despite the absence of an electricity agreement with the EU and the innovative further development of the electricity market. “Thanks to the fantastic effort and commitment of all employees, we can look back upon a successful year,” concludes Zumwald.

The implementation of the “Strategy 2022” for the reorganisation of the Swissgrid corporate structure to further increase efficiency within the company made good progress in 2019 – just like the grid extension measures according to the company’s ambitious plan “Strategic Grid 2025”, even if complaints sometimes delayed implementation. Projects worth mentioning in this respect include the grid extension works in the Swiss canton of Valais which are important for transporting energy from hydropower to the consumption centres of Switzerland or the progress made in Central Switzerland with the 380kV line between Beznau and Birr. This line is partially laid underground, representing the very first time that part of an extra-high voltage line in Switzerland has been realised by underground cables: Twelve cables with a weight of 30 tonnes each were installed in the summer.

In terms of key financial figures, the company’s net profit rose slightly year-on-year to CHF66.7m (€63.38m), while earnings before interest and taxes amounted to CHF102.4m (€97.31m), representing a decline of 14.2%, due to lower invested operating assets and the higher net surplus in volume- and tariff-related time differences. Looking ahead to the 2020 business year and beyond, high annual investments will continue to be required due to lengthy approval processes, especially regarding grid extension or modernisation. Swissgrid assumes a medium-term planning horizon of grid investments of approximately CHF150m (€152.54m) to CHF200m (€190.1m) annually.

Concerning innovation in the ancillary services market and market integration, the Swiss TSO will continue to develop the market platform on which requested products for frequency regulation and international redispatch are combined. To compensate for frequency fluctuations due to increasingly volatile energy generation, Swissgrid is preparing the “Crowd Balancing Platform” for the control energy market, a pilot project aimed at the use of storage technologies in the field of primary control energy. The “Crowd Balancing Platform” is based on block chain technology and the internet of things. The Dutch-German TSO and further TSCNET shareholder TenneT has already verified the technical feasibility of such processes. Now Swissgrid, TenneT and the Italian TSO Terna have formed a consortium for the European use of this technology, the potential of which Swissgrid will investigate in a pilot project in Switzerland. The project will start in the summer of 2020 and run until the end of the year.

Swissgrid reports solid results in its Annual Report 2019 (picture: Swissgrid)

Linkup
> See Swissgrid media release (html)
> Open Annual Report 2019 (pdf, 1.6MB)

See article on single page

DA/RE project: Redispatch 2.0

09.04.2020

The grid security initiative DA/RE (“DAta exchange/Redispatch”) was launched in summer 2018 by TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, and entered the pilot phase on 1 April 2019. The first retrievals of redispatch capacities were carried out in summer 2019 and now the pilot phase of the Baden-Württemberg grid project has been successfully concluded. Apart from TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, three distribution system operators (DSOs) and four other partners from the fields of virtual power plants, home storage, and energy trading were involved in the DA/RE pilot phase.

Like comparable projects, DA/RE responds to the increasing volatility and decentralisation of electricity generation. In order to stabilise the entire electricity system in the future, DA/RE intends to facilitate the transition from the current redispatch with centralised large-scale power plants to new processes involving the flexibility potential of smaller decentralised generation plants and storage facilities. In the pilot phase, the DA/RE partners have achieved their first project goal: Processes for the coordinated retrieval of redispatch power from the distribution grid over several voltage levels have been developed and successfully tested in practice. The entire process chain from the exchange of planning data via DA/RE internal processes with merit-order based plant selection up to the activation of the physical plant retrieval was tested in three steps. A total of 40 plants of different technologies with rated outputs between 3kW and 30MW were involved.

Key assumptions corroborated
In the pilot phase, the coordinated redispatch retrieval was verified across all voltage levels and the basic functionality of the DA/RE concept was confirmed. With the experience and findings gained from this, the final DA/RE platform is now being developed, for which uniform processes and interfaces to automate the process steps will be defined. This will ensure the scalability and mass suitability of the system and simplify the integration of smaller grid and plant operators.

The two DA/RE project managers, Florian Gutekunst from TransnetBW and Kilian Geschermann from the DSO Netze BW, describe DA/RE as an open project: “We are looking forward to involving further interested parties from the ranks of grid and plant operators as fellow campaigners. We are all facing growing challenges due to the transformation of the generation landscape; together we can find smart solutions and better meet the challenges.”

The pilot phase of the DA/RE project for smart decentralised redispatch solutions has successfully been concluded

Linkup
> See TransnetBW press release, in German (html)
> Visit DA/RE website, in German (html)

See article on single page

Smart Grid of the future tested

07.04.2020

Small decentralised power generation plants, storage units and consumers must increasingly take on the role of stabilising the transmission system, a task that has so far been performed mainly by large, centralised power plants. The Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), TSCNET shareholder TenneT, is participating in two projects investigating the technical feasibility of decentralised stabilisation options. These two projects are C/sells with a focus on southern Germany and solar energy and enera with a focus on northern Germany and wind energy. Besides TenneT, C/sells and enera comprise various actors from the energy sector, research institutions and distribution system operators (DSOs). Both projects involve regional online platforms for the management of decentralised flexibilities and are funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in the framework of the innovation programme “Smart Energy Showcases” (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie” – SINTEG).

To connect suppliers and demanders of flexibility, C/sells has developed a flexibility platform called “comax”: Providers of flexibility report existing potential and grid operators can access this potential and coordinate with each other to retrieve their respective needs. In the enera project, a stock exchange-based local flexibility market is being developed that merges supply and demand for flexibility and allocates it to grid operators in a highly efficient manner. By linking the two online platforms of C/sells and enera, the smart grid of the future has now been field-tested and the targeted control of decentralised electricity consumers, storage facilities and generators has been trialled under real conditions throughout Germany for the first time.

During the test run, in coordination with the DSOs involved, the electricity demand of a storage facility in the northern windy state of Lower Saxony was increased at the request of TenneT to absorb electricity from renewable energy sources. At the same time, biogas and CHP (combined heat and power) plants in the south of Germany fed more electricity into the grid to meet the local demand. This has reduced the amount of electricity to be transmitted through the power grid and helped to eliminate bottlenecks.

Tim Meyerjürgens, COO at TenneT, comments on the successful test: “In the future, we will need millions of decentralised systems to stabilise the transmission grid. To this end, grid operators at all levels must collaborate and develop new tools to exploit the potential of CHP plants, heat pumps, biogas plants, battery storage, electric cars, power-to-gas plants and other decentralised facilities for greater grid security. Our test has shown how this works successfully.”

TenneT carried out a successful test on how to use decentralised consumers, storage facilities and generators to stabilise the grid (picture: screenshot taken from the C/sells website)

Linkup
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Visit C/sells website (html)
>Visit enera website, in German (html)

See article on single page

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)

Linkup
> See APG press release, in German (html)

See article on single page

HOPS commissions variable shunt reactor

22.01.2020

A further step for the successful implementation of the Croatian-Slovenian smartgrid project SINCRO.GRID has been taken. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) aims at optimising the efficiency of the Croatian and Slovenian electricity transmission grids through the application of advanced technologies and innovative data processing methods and is carried out by the two TSCNET shareholders ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO), and HOPS from Croatia.

At the beginning of December 2019, the ELES substation in Divača has been equipped with a variable shunt reactor, an effective compensation tool for reactive power control. Now HOPS has put the same technically advanced system into operation at its substation in Mraclin near Zagreb. With this, HOPS has concluded the first stage of SINCRO.GRID. After the implementation of additional measures and devices, including a static VAR compensator, the Croatian TSO will be able to actively manage the reactive power flows in the Croatian power grid. This will solve problems of overloads in the long term and thus have a positive effect on grid stability and security of supply for customers.

HOPS has commissioned a variable shunt reactor as part of the SINCRO.GRID project (picture: HOPS)

Linkup
> See HOPS press release, in Croatian (html)
> Visit SINCRO.GRID website (html)

See article on single page

Variable shunt reactor for SINCRO.GRID

03.12.2019

The two transmission system operators (TSOs) and TSCNET shareholders ELES from Slovenia and HOPS from Croatia are cooperating in SINCRO.GRID. This cross-border smart grid initiative is coordinated by ELES and comprises in addition to the TSOs also two distribution system operators (DSOs) from both countries. The objective of the European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is to optimise the efficiency of the respective national transmission systems by means of advanced technologies and innovative data processing methods.

Since the substantial allocation of EU funding to SINCRO.GRID under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme in 2017, the project has made significant progress. A vital component of SINCRO.GRID is optimising and installing compensation devices for reactive power control, e.g. variable shunt reactors, which are used in high-voltage transmission systems for voltage stabilisation during load variations. Now the ELES substation in Divača in south-eastern Slovenia has been equipped with such a technically advanced device manufactured by Siemens in Austria. The assembly work is in full swing and is expected to be completed by 12 December. Preparatory work for commissioning will then commence immediately.

Another major component of SINCRO.GRID is a dynamic thermal rating system for power grid operating limits. The aim is to evaluate marginal capacities of transmission system components considering weather influences and thus to improve operational safety and utilisation of overhead lines and transformers. In addition to hard- and software in control centres, atmospheric measuring devices, which are installed directly at the pylons, are also part of the system. Corresponding tests of innovative weather stations are underway. Last week, the substructure for the weather station on the Kleče-Divača overhead line was field tested.

SINCRO.GRID advances technical innovations (picture: ELES)

Linkup
> See ELES press release (html)
> Visit SINCRO.GRID website (html)

See article on single page