Romanian legislation promotes energy infrastructure

21.06.2019

In Romania, a new law adopted by President Klaus Iohannis on 20 June facilitates nationally important extensions to the transmission system infrastructure. The act promotes the implementation of important investment projects for Romania’s energy security, the construction of overhead lines and compliance with time limits for projects with European financing.

The Romanian transmission system operator (TSO) and TSCNET shareholder Transelectrica expressly welcomes the new legislation. Marius Dănuţ Carașol, chairman of the Transelectrica Directorate, highlights the positive effects on the TSO’s expansion efforts, for example by reducing bureaucratic obstacles.

New Romanian legislation facilitates grid extension (picture showing the Parliament building in Romania’s capital Bucharest: Mari Ana / Pixabay)

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ČEPS innovation projects

12.06.2019

As European transmission system operators (TSOs), the TSCNET shareholders must adapt to the changing energy landscape and find solutions for a successful sustainable energy future. The Czech TSO ČEPS is no exception to this rule and is actively involved in several innovation projects to respond to changes in the energy industry and to ensure the reliable operation of the Czech power system, as it was now pointed out by Karel Vinkler, director of the Innovation and R&D section of ČEPS. These projects include SecureFlex, MAFRI, Dflex, and BAART, which all are part of the national THÉTA program of the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic to support research in the energy sector.

With the SecureFlex project, ČEPS recognises power flexibility as one of the most important grid stabilisation tools of the future. SecureFlex focuses on developing analysis, calculation and optimisation tools as well as targeted studies that contribute to the secure use of power flexibility in the context of new technologies and market themes. The MAFRI project (Mid-term Adequacy Forecast – Regional Indicators) aims to identify new reliability criteria for the production-capacity-adequacy evaluation. The outcomes of the project can contribute to future decisions on infrastructure investments and restorations.

In the Dflex project, the feasibility of active participation of smaller power sources will be investigated to provide flexibility for the operation and control of the power system. Through aggregation and active decentralised control systems, these energy sources will then be used to stabilise the system. Finally, the BAART project is concerned with the gradual development of the BSAE technology (Battery System Accumulation of Energy) and its potential regarding power balancing. The main purpose of this project, in which a 4 MW battery in the Tušimice power plant is being used, is the development, adaptation and modification of BSAE power balance services and their practical verification.

“ČEPS has been active in the field of innovation, research and development for a long time. The need to innovate comes naturally from the fundamental changes of the present power industry environment,” comments Vinkler.

ČEPS is conducting several innovation projects to respond to changes in the energy industry (picture shows the Czech capital Prague, where the TSO has its headquarters)

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Amprion presents CWE market report

03.06.2019

Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), has published its market report for the period 2015 to 2018. In this comprehensive document, the TSCNET shareholder investigates the development of the electricity market in the Central Western Europe (CWE) region using data from Flow-Based Market Coupling (FBMC). The CWE countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) implemented FBMC in May 2015, which allows TSOs to allocate cross-border capacity and maximise market efficiency without compromising grid stability. This is due to the inclusion of the entire regional network in the coupling of electricity markets.

The control area of Amprion is a central hub for cross-border electricity trading in the CWE region. With its transmission capacities, the TSO can export up to eight GW of electricity at peak times and thus generate more than half of Germany’s total export performance. Transmission via the Amprion grid thus also supports security of supply in neighbouring countries, especially in critical situations such as winter 2016/2017.

Amprion’s analysis shows that the integration of the CWE markets is already well advanced and continues to progress. At the same time, the growing difference between positive and negative price peaks on the electricity exchanges also highlights the challenge of the highly volatile supply of renewable energies. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, Chief Commercial Officer and CFO of Amprion, comments: “The mutual dependency in Europe on system security will continue to rise. We are therefore doing everything physically possible to connect the national markets and networks even better.”

Amprion has published a comprehensive market report for the CWE region

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ENTSO-E report on frequency drop

29.05.2019

On Thursday, 10 January 2019, shortly after 9 p.m., a deviation from the 50Hz mid-frequency was registered in the Continental European (CE) power system, which comprises the synchronised transmission grids of 26 countries. The deviation lasted 9 seconds and, with a drop to 49.808Hz, was the largest absolute frequency deviation since the so-called “European Blackout 2006”, when the frequency reached 49.0Hz.

Thanks to immediate collective action by the transmission system operators (TSOs) of the CE Regional Group the underfrequency was quickly rectified and the European security of supply was not compromised at any moment. In concrete terms, the activation of CE reserves and of interruptible contracts with French industrial customers returned the situation to normal. To identify the root causes of the incident, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) undertook in-depth investigations and has now released a detailed and transparent technical analysis.

According to this report, the large drop was caused by the superposition of two factors. A significant deterministic frequency deviation (DFD) during the evening peak load encountered another, unpredicted one, registered between 9 and 11 January and caused by a technical error resulting from a frozen measurement on four connecting lines between Austria and Germany. The cumulative effect of the permanent frequency deviation from 9 to 11 January and the significant evening DFD on 10 January led to the frequency loss in the interconnected CE system.

The ENTSO-E technical report indicates that solutions for DFDs in the CE region need to be found. DFDs have been observed for years, but are now becoming more common and are of greater amplitude due to imbalances between generation and demand. Possible solutions to DFDs may require a change in operating and/or market rules. ENTSO-E will make further enquiries in close dialogue with all interested parties.

ENTSO-E has released an in-depth report on the frequency drop in the CE power system from January 2019 (illustration: ENTSO-E)

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Pylon repair started at Albula Pass

25.05.2019

The windstorm Adrian (Vaia in the German-speaking area) was one of the most devastating storms of the European storm season 2018-19, mainly affecting the northern Mediterranean and Alpine regions. It not only damaged the Venetian Basilica of San Marco and flooded 75% of Venice, but also destroyed transmission lines at the Albula Pass: In the night to 30 October 2018, four pylons from TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) bent or collapsed at the high mountain pass in the Canton of Grisons.

Since then, the two affected 380kV lines (Filisur-Robbia and Pradella-Robbia-Sils) have been out of operation, as Swissgrid has decided for safety reasons not to erect a provisional connection with emergency masts in winter due to the danger of avalanches. Nevertheless, grid security in the transmission grid is ensured at all times and there have been no supply interruptions. While security and supply are guaranteed, however, transit capacity to Italy had to be reduced until the line is restored.

Swissgrid began repairing the 380kV lines in mid-April and is now replacing the four broken pylons whose foundations are currently being reconstructed. New pylons and the conductor ropes will then be installed. If everything goes according to plan, the two lines will go operational again at the end of July.

Swissgrid has commenced repair work on the damaged overhead lines at the Albula Pass (picture: Swissgrid)

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Ultranet progresses

17.05.2019

The Ultranet substation on the grounds of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant (which will be completely shut down by 31 December 2019) in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg is to become one of the most significant power hubs in Germany’s future energy landscape. Here, the supra-regional DC line Ultranet will be connected to the regional 380kV grid of TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). Ultranet will transfer wind energy generated in the northwest of the country to the industrially highly developed southwest. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is jointly carried out by TransnetBW and further TSCNET shareholder Amprion.

Last July, construction work began in Philippsburg with the groundbreaking ceremony for a new gas-insulated switchgear. Now the work on the new DC substation is being initiated, as TransnetBW officially started the filling of the construction site with a symbolic first excavator operation on 16 May. “This is a special day for the ULTRANET DC project and for the energy transition,” declared Dr. Werner Götz, Chairman of the TransnetBW Executive Board, to around 50 invited representatives from politics, business and society. Dr. Götz continued that now a “visible sign for the progress of the project and our aim to bring renewable electricity to Philippsburg and the region” had been set.

In the meantime, the project partner Amprion has also made progress for Ultranet, albeit in a different domain: In keeping with the motto that it is better to talk to each other than about each other, the TSO on 15 and 16 May has invited municipalities, specialist authorities and citizens’ initiatives to exchange information on the Ultranet planning status in the Rheingau-Taunus and Main-Taunus districts. A first public participation procedure had earlier led to 15 alternative routes in the respective districts, which Amprion examined in more detail. Based on the additional expert exchange, Amprion wants to better integrate the local knowledge and expertise of the participants for the comparison of variants and their environmental impacts.

TransnetBW has started preparing the construction site for the Ultranet substation in Philippsburg (picture: TransnetBW)

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Line upgrade in the German Upper Rhine Plain

11.05.2019

The transmission capacity of the extra-high voltage grid in the southwest of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, is reaching its limits considering the requirements for an efficient and future-proof energy system. To increase capacity and ensure regional security of supply as well as reliable transmission in the future, Baden-Württemberg’s transmission system operator (TSO), TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, is replacing the 220kV overhead line between Karlsruhe-Daxlanden and Eichstetten am Kaiserstuhl (near Freiburg) with a 380kV line. This line upgrade in the Upper Rhine Plain is part of the National Network Development Plan for Electricity and comprises the construction of around 120km of new lines and five substations.

The entire project is divided into four sections and the planning approval procedure for the section B1 between Sasbach and Offenburg-Weier in the Ortenau district was opened on 9 May. TransnetBW had submitted the relevant documents at the end of last year to the Freiburg Regional Council. After official review and a revision by the TSO, the authority initiated the approval procedure. Next steps include the consultation process with a month-long disclosure of the documents to the municipalities concerned and the involvement of public interest parties.

Start of planning approval for the Sasbach-Offenburg section of TransnetBW’s Daxlanden-Eichstetten line upgrade (picture: TransnetBW)

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Significant progress for ALEGrO

03.05.2019

October 2018 saw the start of construction of ALEGrO, the “Aachen Liège Electricity Grid Overlay”, which is the first direct interconnector of the German and Belgian electricity grids. With a transmission capacity of 1,000MW, ALEGrO will increase cross-border electricity flows and, at the same time, supply security in the western German region of Aachen-Cologne. The European Project of Common Interest (PCI) is realised jointly by TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and the Belgian TSO Elia. Only a few months after the start, Amprion can already report some great strides in the construction work.

Underground cabling is used for the entire ALEGrO route (approx. 49km in Belgium and 41km in Germany) and two new converters are being installed at each end of ALEGrO at the substations Oberzier in Germany and Lixhe in Belgium. The coordination effort for the German-Belgian power bridge, which crosses numerous roads, waters or forests, is considerable: Explosive ordnance clearance and the demolition of remnants of world war bunkers are daily business, but of course archaeological investigations and nature conservation are also part of today’s construction standard.

Several teams are working simultaneously at different points along the route in Germany, laying cable conduits into which the conductor cables will later be drawn. 5km of the conduit system have already been completed and 25km are currently under construction. At the Oberzier substation, a hall is currently being erected to house the converter technology. Work is also proceeding well in Belgium, and according to current planning ALEGrO should be operational by the end of 2020.

Amprion is making good progress with the construction of ALEGrO (picture: screenshot taken from video “Elia ALEGrO Project – Reportage”, Elia, YouTube)

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New 380kV line in Valais

17.04.2019

The complete transmission of hydroelectric power generated in the Swiss Canton of Valais to the country’s urban areas is essential for the future of Switzerland’s energy supply: Without the connection of the Valais transmission lines to the 380kV grid, only around two-thirds of Valais hydropower can be transmitted as soon as the new Nant de Drance pumped storage plant goes into operation. That is why increasing the voltage of the line between the Chippis and Mörel substations in the Rhone valley from 220 to 380kV is an important part of the “Strategic Grid 2025”, the grid modernisation and expansion plan of TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, the Swiss transmission grid operator (TSO).

Swissgrid is planning the new construction of a 380kV overhead line with a length of around 44 kilometres, which will bypass and relieve settlement areas as far as possible. The existing 220kV line will be dismantled after the new line is commissioned. As with every grid project, Swissgrid has evaluated both cable and overhead line variants for Chippis-Mörel, with the result that underground installation would not only be very costly and time-consuming but would also not generate any significant added value for the natural landscape.

At the end of March 2019, Swissgrid submitted the planning approval procedure to the Swiss Federal Inspectorate for Heavy Current Installations (Eidgenössisches Starkstrominspektorat – ESTI) and also engages in dialogue with the population, the municipalities, the authorities and associations. The TSO’s current planning foresees commissioning of the line in 2025, but in the event of objections and legal proceedings, initial operation may be delayed by several years.

Swissgrid will build a new 380kv overhead line between Chippis and Mörel in Valais (picture: Swissgrid)

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Ostwind 1 in full operation

16.04.2019

Among the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), 50Hertz is mainly responsible for the onshore connection of wind farms in the German Baltic Sea. The Ostwind 1 project of the TSCNET shareholder for connecting the Arkona and Viking wind farms in the “Westlich Adlergrund” cluster in the Baltic Sea near the island of Rügen to the onshore grid has now been finalised – after a construction period of three years and on time for the commissioning of the two wind farms. With a total investment volume of around €1.3bn, the budget was lower than anticipated.

Initial operation of Wikinger took place in autumn 2018, and on 16 April 2019, Arkona was also officially commissioned. Not only is Arkona the largest wind farm in the Baltic Sea, supplying the equivalent of around 400,000 households with electricity, but also its onshore connection sets new standards: Ostwind 1 is the first grid connection in the Baltic Sea with 220kV three-phase current technology to allow a higher transmission capacity. The submarine cables of Ostwind 1 end at the Lubmin onshore substation in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the current is converted to 380kV and fed into the 50Hertz transmission system.

As Arkona is operated by the German company E.ON in cooperation with the Norwegian company Equinor, the official inauguration ceremony in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Kjell-Børge Freiberg. On the occasion of the celebration, Dr. Frank Golletz, CEO of 50Hertz, commented on the Ostwind 1 converter platform and the exemplary collaboration during its construction: “This offshore platform has set a new standard. The good European cooperation will also be continued in the operation of the wind farm.”

With the official commissioning of the Arkona wind farm, the Ostwind 1 grid connection by 50Hertz has been completed (picture: Eskil Eriksen / Equinor ASA)

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