Households supersede power plants


It is widely known that the closure of conventional power plants in the course of the energy transition and the resulting decrease in operating reserve pose demanding challenges to transmission system operators (TSOs). They now have to compensate for this lost reserve to ensure stability of the transmission grid and secure the customer supply. In its search for new approaches, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, has been cooperating for quite some time with the sonnen GmbH, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Now a breakthrough has been announced: For the first time, sonnen provides operating reserves throughout Germany with its networked home storage systems.

This means that the currently largest virtual battery, which can compensate for grid fluctuations, goes into operation. This battery works in a unique way: It consists of thousands of individual electricity storage units, which are used for the own energy consumption of their respective households. If there are deviations in the power grid, these batteries automatically arrange themselves into a virtual large battery by means of artificial intelligence. Households are thus capable of performing the same compensation functions as conventional power plants and short-term deviations in the grid can be compensated very quickly. For this reason, sonnen, together with its technology partner tiko Energy Solutions, has been prequalified by TenneT to provide primary control reserve.

The prequalification of the virtual battery system for the primary control power market is subject to the strictest technical and safety requirements. Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, comments on the innovative technology: “That networked battery storages as virtual power plants are now able to stabilise the grid in the event of frequency deviations, is a further step on the road to increased system integration of renewable energies.”

TenneT has prequalified a virtual battery system consisting of individual storage units for the provision of operating reserve (picture: TenneT)

> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Watch sonnen demonstration video, in German (YouTube)

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TenneT identified as digital pioneer


“Digitalisation is becoming increasingly important for the secure and efficient operation of the grid, which is why we are the first transmission system operator (TSO) to broadly explore the possibilities offered by digitalisation.“ Lex Hartman, executive board member of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, has every reason to make that claim, since the Dutch-German TSO has been designated one of the top 10 Dutch “Transformers” in the digital transformation.

For the annual “FD Transformers” survey conducted by the Dutch newspaper “Het Financieele Dagblad” and the Vlerick Business School, 200 of the largest Dutch companies have been taken into account. René Kerkmeester, Senior Manager Digital Transformation at TenneT, emphasises the essential contribution of TenneT‘s digitalisation team to the company‘s high ranking and concludes: “We are preparing our organisation and the electricity market for a sustainable future, with a greater share of renewable energy sources.“

Currently, the TSO carries out four digitalisation projects, including three blockchain solution pilots in Germany and the Netherlands to facilitate access to local and decentral electricity capacities. These projects involve home energy storage systems and vehicle-to-grid-technologies respectively. Another blockchain pilot focuses on e-car batteries to compensate for frequency deviations. The fourth project explores the potential of sensors in vehicles for the improvement of solar energy generation forecasts. TenneT has announced to launch more pilot projects in the coming months.

The Dutch-German TSO TenneT proves to be a digital frontrunner. Illustration on a digital enterprise (source:

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

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Austrian research on battery based balancing


The energy transition makes every market participant consider how to adapt to the rapidly changing conditions within the energy sector. Among other things, this means for the electric transmission system operators (TSOs) to respond to the weather dependence and thus volatility of the wind and solar energy generation. Dr. Ulrike Baumgartner-Gabitzer, CEO of the Austrian TSCNET shareholder APG, specifies the relating strategy of the TSO: “As APG we try to meet these challenges with the search for technological innovations.”

The modernisation and extension of the grid is undoubtedly of great importance, but TSOs need to think beyond that. Electricity grids increasingly require highly dynamic system elements that can compensate for short-term frequency deviations. In this context, storage technologies to stabilise the power grid are worthy of profound consideration. For this reason, together with the Austrian Institute of Technology, the Vienna Technical University and three subsidaries of Verbund, Austria‘s largest electricity provider, APG has launched a technology-neutral research project on battery-based balancing solutions: “Advanced Balancing Services for Transmission System Operators”, short ABS4TSOS.

The name similarity to the vehicle assistance system ABS (Anti-lock braking system) is by no means a coincidence. ABS4TSOS aims at automatic support systems and new mechanisms for the operation of the grid, which contribute to the maintenance of frequency stability and are therefore somewhat analogous to ABS. This includes all possible applications of a battery storage system in order to increase supply security. “ABS4TSO will address the question, in which way storage technologies can contribute to stabilising the grid in the future,” comments Dr. Baumgartner-Gabitzer.

In June 2019, the operation of the specifically designed battery storage system will commence at APG‘s substation Wien Südost. Subsequently, system functions and possibilities will be thoroughly examined. The project runs until the end of April 2021 and is endowed with €2.6m, which are borne by the project partners and the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund.

> See APG press release, in German (html)

Picture: APG

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Blockchain technology for a flexible grid


A decentralised and flexible grid management is likely to be recognised as appropriate reaction to an increasing decentralised infeed of renewables into the transmission system. The renewable’s volatility often causes bottlenecks or overloads in the grid and consequently forces transmission system operators (TSOs) to engage in stabilising measures. After thorough and lengthy preparations, TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, has started the first European pilot project employing decentralised networked home energy storage systems and blockchain technology to stabilise the grid.

Partners of TenneT in this six-month pilot project are sonnen, the world’s largest company for residential energy storage, and IBM. The latter has developed the blockchain solution, while sonnen provides the pool of home energy storage systems building the network. These decentralised storage systems are integrated into TenneT’s grid via blockchain technology, which means that the TSO is able to use those systems for redispatch. In this way, blockchain technology offers possibilities to employ decentralised networks to flexibly and intelligently manage electricity flows.

Urban Keussen, chairman of the board of TenneT, values blockchain based concepts as possible royal road to the future integration of the renewables. Mr Keussen explains: “As grid operator, we are taking a new approach to better integrate decentralised renewable energy sources and secure supply. At the same time, we offer citizens the opportunity to actively participate in the energy transition.”

> See TenneT press release, (html)

Picture: TenneT


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TenneT explores methods of flexible grid management


Hence the renewables’ share in the electricity generation in Europe is growing constantly, the transmission grid is becoming more volatile. In the future, electricity from conventional sources might not meet the customers’ demand in some areas, and already now, the often inflexible energy system is leading to overloads of the transmission grid in times of high input of renewable energy – thus forcing transmission system operators (TSOs) to conduct stabilising grid interventions. In order to maintain grid stability and supply security within its control area, TSC member TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, is exploring new approaches in view of a decentralised and flexible grid management.

TenneT is running two pilot projects on new methods of balancing future supply and demand, one in the Netherlands together with green energy supplier Vandebron, and one in Germany together with sonnen eServices, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Both projects involve the Blockchain platform technology, which is developed by IBM to connect multiple market participants and numerous distributed computed nodes in order to perform joint actions in a transparent, scalable, and trusted network. In the Dutch project, Vandebron will make the battery capacities of its customers with electric cars available to TenneT via the blockchain. In Germany, TenneT gets access to sonnen’s network of residential solar batteries. In both cases, an additional pool of available and flexible energy is presented to the TenneT operator, ready for activation by the push of a button and thus possibly helping to reduce measures of congestion management and supporting the integration of renewables.

Mel Kroon, CEO at TenneT TSO B.V. (Netherlands), and Urban Keussen, CEO at TenneT TSO GmbH (Germany), acknowledge the high potential of both pilot projects. According to Mr Kroon, they present a “part of TenneT’s broader strategy of preparing the electricity system to accommodate the growing volume of renewable energy”. Mr Keussen adds, that the blockchain offers new possibilities of networking decentralised distributed systems smart and securely. And what’s more: “With this innovative project, we offer citizens the opportunity to play an active part in shaping the energy transition.”

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


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Battery backup in Germany


In Feldheim southwest of Berlin, Germany, Europe’s largest battery energy storage project with a total power output of 10MW and 10.8MWh capacity opened. Yesterday, “CleanTechnica”, a well-known website for “cleantech news and commentary”, reported on the new storage system designed to provide load-balancing capacity for the power transmission grid.

> See “CleanTechnica” report (html)

Photo: LG Chem /

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Workshop on transmission and storage


The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) today started registration for its public stakeholder workshop for inclusion of transmission and storage projects in preparation of the Ten-Year Network Development Plan 2016 (TYNDP). The workshop will take place on 25 February 2015 in Brussels, Belgium.

> See ENTSO-E meeting agenda (draft, pdf, 217 kb)

> Visit ENTSO-E registration site (html)

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