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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InnoGrid 2019 on cyber-physical grids

19.12.2018

A few days before Christmas, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) pointed out one of the most important dates in the coming year for innovative network concepts: InnoGrid 2019, which will take place on 13 and 14 May in Brussels, Belgium.

In recent editions, InnoGrid has proven to be the key European event for electricity grid innovation and there is no reason why it should be any different this time. The prestigious annual event is organised jointly by ENTSO-E and the European Distribution System Operators for Smart Grids (EDSO). The motto of InnoGrid 2019 is: “Connecting Physics and Digits: Power Platforms on the Rise”. What’s the whole issue? It is about physical networks and their permeation with information and communication technologies, transforming the energy system into a cyber-physical system.

How can it be ensured that digitisation will reach its full potential? And what is the best possible interaction between transmission system operators (TSOs) and distribution system operators (DSOs)? CEOs of the industry will answer these and other questions and present their respective innovation strategies. At InnoGrid 2019 you will get acquainted with today’s emerging power platforms and have the opportunity to discuss the necessary regulatory, political and financial framework conditions. Sponsoring opportunities for InnoGrid 2019 are already available and the calls for applications will be sent out shortly.

ENTSO-E and EDSO are hosting the 8th annual InnoGrid conference on innovation in electricity networks from 13-14 May in Brussels

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html)

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IE2S for smart system consulting

23.11.2018

Whole new challenges for the participants in the energy market arise in the context of intelligent networks, intelligent markets and intelligent products as well as their cross-sector and digital networking in a “Smart System”. TransnetBW, TSCNET shareholder and one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), strives to provide targeted advice to those of its customers, whose business models have undergone massive changes as a result of the transition in energy and mobility.

This is why the TSO from the German state of Baden-Württemberg has teamed up with the global consultancy MHP, a Porsche company which specialises in IT and process consulting in the automotive and manufacturing sectors. Under the brand “Intelligent Energy System Services (IE2S)”, TransnetBW and MHP are bundling their core and specialist competencies to develop customised consulting solutions for the energy and mobility market players. While the TSO incorporates the energy industry specific and process-related knowledge as well as the system view into the cooperation, MHP as digitisation and mobility expert has the experience and consulting competence of almost three thousand employees.

With this collaboration, TransnetBW is taking a first step towards strengthening its service business outside the regulatory sector and is also considering industries that have not yet participated in the electricity market but can contribute to grid stabilisation through smart load management at industrial and commercial locations or through the use of storage facilities in electric vehicles. “The energy industry and the automotive industry are moving closer together. There are many new topics that affect both sectors equally. It is therefore a logical consequence to work even more closely together,” explains Dr. Rainer Pflaum, Member of the TransnetBW Executive Board. The competent project manager at TransnetBW, Dr. Dominique Gross, adds: “With IE2S, we want to pursue a new path and bring our expertise in system responsibility and supply security into the context of increasingly digital, decentralised business models.”

TransnetBW cooperates with the IT and process consulting firm MHP in the IE2S project for smart system consulting (picture: screenshot taken from MHP image film, YouTube)

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WindNODE flexibility platform in trial operation

21.11.2018

The energy transition results in a rapidly growing share of volatile electricity volumes from renewable energy generation. The participants in the energy market are thus faced with new and challenging tasks that go beyond the mere safe operation of electricity grids. Optimum capacity utilisation and maximum use of renewable, weather-dependent energy instead of the throttling of sustainable plants are key requirements of today’s market. The TSCNET shareholder 50Hertz, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), meets the new challenges through the systematic use of flexibility.

A single example from 2017 shows the extent of today’s throttling measures: 641GWh of renewable power generation were throttled in the 50Hertz control area for grid stability reasons. In order to use otherwise lost energy, more than 70 partners from all over East Germany are working on the WindNODE project promoted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. A central component of the project is the flexibility platform, a digital procurement system that is designed to reduce the throttling of wind turbines in the event of grid bottlenecks. Via the platform, regional generators, consumers and storage operators offer TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs) flexible use of their facilities. TSOs and DSOs cooperate closely in the project.

The flexibility platform has now gone into test operation after almost two years of developing. The intention is to balance the load distribution of volatile generation quantities and to integrate them optimally into the system. By connecting or disconnecting flexible loads – for example industrial production facilities – the power consumption at appropriate grid nodes is regulated in such a way that bottlenecks and thus the throttling of wind energy are prevented and maximum use of green electricity is facilitated.

Dr. Dirk Biermann, Chief Markets & System Operations Officer at 50Hertz, emphasises the importance of both, more efficient use of the existing grid and grid extension, to achieve the German government’s renewable share targets. “We need to get into Power-to-X applications and the systematic use of flexibility. This is why the WindNODE platform comes at the right time and can help to effectively use regeneratively generated ‘excess electricity’ instead of throttling it.”

The WindNODE flexibility platform for effective use of renewable energy and congestion management in east Germany has been put into trial operation

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SINCRO.GRID contract for process technical systems

16.10.2018

The Croatian-Slovenian smartgrid project SINCRO.GRID is carried out by the two TSCNET shareholders ELES, the transmission system operator (TSO) from Slovenia, and HOPS from Croatia. The cross-border initiative aims at optimising the efficiency of the Croatian and Slovenian electricity transmission grids through the application of advanced technologies and innovative data processing methods. SINCRO.GRID has been awarded the status of Project of Common Interest (PCI) by the European Commission under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme.

On behalf of SINCRO.GID, HOPS has signed a contract with KONČAR-KET, the Croatian provider of engineering services for power generation, transmission or distribution facilities. The contract comes with the rather unwieldy title: “Process technical systems for the voltage and reactive power regulation support of the EES and dynamic monitoring of the transmission line load within the SINCRO.GRID project”, but what it’s all about is to increase the quality and capacity of the power system through the use of advanced process technical systems and algorithms. This will also promote the integration of the renewables and increase the security of customer supply.

HOPS has signed a contract for the use of process technical systems on behalf of SINCRO.GRID (picture: HOPS; on the left: Mario Gudelj, Chairman of the Board at HOPS, on the right: Goran Leci, Managing Director of KONČAR-KET)

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> See news release on SINCRO.GRID website (html)

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Wind data for smart grid control

25.09.2018

The volatility associated with the generation of renewable energy is a well-known side effect of the energy transition, which has not made it any easier for transmission system operators (TSOs) to constantly maintain grid stability and supply security. The adaptation of the transmission grid to the requirements of the new energy landscape is progressing more slowly than the expansion of renewable energies themselves and grid overloads are therefore a common consequence. In such cases, renewable power generation must be throttled, resulting in the loss of valuable (and green) energy capacities.

In order to avoid this and also to reduce costly interventions, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, and Statkraft, Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, are investigating in a joint pilot project how the grid can be better and smarter controlled. Specifically, the two partners want to find out how TenneT can progressively exploit the feed-in forecasts of Statkraft’s northern German wind farms for intelligent grid control. The data obtained improves the calculation of grid utilisation and thus enables the TSO to identify and eliminate possible congestions at an early stage. In a second step, the direct control of wind turbines by TenneT will be tested in order to relieve grid bottlenecks.

“Every day we eliminate bottlenecks in the power grid with hundreds of interventions in conventional and renewable generation. To ensure that we only intervene as much as necessary, it is important for us to have direct access to wind turbines so that we can control them in bottleneck situations,” explains Lex Hartman, executive board member at TenneT. The smart grid initiative of TenneT and Statkraft is part of the consortium project “NEW 4.0 ‒ Norddeutsche EnergieWende” (“Northern German Energy Transition”) funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic affairs and Energy as part of the promotion programme “Schaufenster intelligente Energie ‒ Digitale Energiewende” (“Showcase Intelligent Energy – Digital Energy Transition”).

TenneT cooperates with the energy group Statkraft on a pilot project for smart grid control utilising wind data

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Dutch research on decentral balance maintenance

05.09.2018

The continuous maintenance of the balance in the electrical transmission grid between customer demand and supply is one of the core tasks of any transmission system operator (TSO). In order to further improve performance in this respect and to make balance maintenance more decentralised, TSCNET shareholder TenneT wants to explore possibilities to offer local electricity generation and regulating capacities. Decentral maintenance methods appear to be an appropriate response to an increasingly volatile and decentral energy generation. For this reason, the Dutch-German TSO has launched a pilot research project on the enhanced and decentral use of automatic Frequency Restoration Reserves (aFRR) within the Dutch transmission system.

TenneT is cooperating with seven partners from the energy sector on this project, which is a follow-up to a previous collaboration with the Dutch green energy supplier Vandebron on the employment of e-car batteries for grid control measures. With six additional partners, the field of investigation is now being expanded to also include wind and solar energy, combined heat and power generation, heating grids, electric boilers as well as electric pumps. This provides the research with the broadest possible spectrum of technologies and the widest scope of possible applications.

The pilot project derives its significance from the fact that currently the use of alternative energies in the aFRR market is not always possible due to inadequate specifications and technologies. TenneT aims to explore and, as far as possible, remove the technical hurdles in order to facilitate the use of regulating capacities from decentralised and sustainable sources.

TenneT launches pilot research project on the decentralised use of automatic Frequency Restoration Reserves for balance maintenance (illustration based on pictures from TenneT)

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TSO-DSO cooperation on flexible grid management

18.07.2018

Volatile and decentral energy generation is not only a concomitant of the energy transition, but also an evident risk for grid stability. Paving the way to a low-carbon energy future while ensuring the security of electricity supply is the current key challenge for many European transmission system operators (TSOs) such as the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT, which is intensively involved in research on flexible grid management and smart grid solutions. The most recent example is “HeatFlex”, a joint project with the southern German distribution system operator (DSO) Bayernwerk Netz GmbH.

By mid-2019, the “HeatFlex” partners will explore to what extent the more than 170,000 existing controllable consumption devices in the area of the DSO can be used to increase the flexibility of the entire transmission system. These controllable devices ‒ for example, electric storage heaters, heat pumps or water heaters ‒ can be integrated into the grid management by means of ripple control utilising the already installed ripple control receivers.

“HeatFlex” is part of TenneT’s extensive digitisation program and the company’s strategy to actively and cost-efficiently involve smaller and decentralised flexibilities in the market. This has become necessary in order to compensate for the loss of grid stability formerly provided by large power plant capacities. Lex Hartman, executive board member at TenneT, explains: “More digitalisation and technological innovation not only secure tomorrow’s power supply, but also help to reduce additional grid extension in the future.” Currently, the TSO is conducting four other digitisation projects in addition to “HeatFlex”, including three blockchain solution pilots in Germany and the Netherlands.

TenneT cooperates with southern German DSO Bayernwerk in the HeatFlex project for flexible grid management (picture: Bayernwerk AG).

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Cooperation for the green and digital transition

25.05.2018

The European energy landscape is changing constantly and fast, and there are two main factors that radically influence the conditions for the players in the energy market: the energy transition and the digital revolution. New digital developments offer great opportunities for companies from the energy sector to closer cooperate with companies outside the sector’s traditional value chain in order to realise a smart and efficient green and digital transition. Modesty and professional ambition should balance each other in this challenging field of work, or in the words of Thomas Egebo, CEO at TSCNET shareholder Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO): “We don’t have all the answers, but we would like to be part of the solution.”

On behalf of Energinet and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), Thomas Egebo was the host of the Digital Round Table on 24 May in the Danish Capital of Copenhagen. High-level representatives from Microsoft, GE Power, Renault, Envision ‒ China’s second-largest wind turbine company ‒ and other international companies and organisations attended the event to discuss the impact of new technologies and digitalisation on the energy sector and the possibilities for new partnerships between companies from the traditional energy sector and other companies.

Many of the prospective solutions are still unknown to us today, but it is certain that data is essential for the energy future. Energinet wants to be a catalyst in this area to help market participants create products of the future. Thomas Egebo explained that a TSO such as Energinet can supply production data and information about the state of the network to businesses and consumption data to individual consumers. “Data is something that everyone can tap into, as well as a crucial element of the new business models, in which consumers can make a real difference in contributing to the integration of renewable energy,” commented Mr Egebo.

> See Energinet press release (html)
> Visit Energinet event website (html)

Picture: Digital Round Table by Energinet

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Transantlantic cooperation on grid modernisation

18.05.2018

Representing 43 European electricity transmission system operators (TSOs), the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has a good deal of know-how on cooperation issues. Although coordination in order to modernise and integrate the transmission system at the pan-European level is certainly challenging enough, the focus of ENTSO-E is by no means limited to Europe. As a sign of this, ENTSO-E and the American Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) have signed a memorandum of understanding on collaborative research, development and innovation initiatives.

Aspects such as next generation tools and processes, transmission and distribution system communication, information exchange or cyber security are all covered by the joint declaration. Both organisations expect the collaboration to provide valuable impulses for their respective ambitious future visions, “European Power System 2040” and “Integrated Energy Network”. Laurent Schmitt, ENTSO-E Secretary General, commented on the occasion: “As the pace of change in technology development and implementation continues to accelerate, this collaboration allows us to address common issues that are truly international in nature.”

> See ENTSO-E press release (html)

Picture: Edited screenshot taken from video “The Integrated Energy Network: 2017 Summer Seminar” (EPRI, YouTube)

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