Publications on HDVC reliability and the balancing market

13.12.2018

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has adopted positions on two systemically relevant topics for the European energy market: the electricity balancing market and the improvement of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) system reliability. Two respective papers have been released by ENTSO-E. The first, a balancing guideline, gives a simplified overview of the target model of the European balancing energy market and explains the most important concepts and processes associated with this market and the platforms for the exchange of balancing energy products. In addition to the focus on the interaction of the different balancing processes, the legal framework of the target model is also briefly outlined.

In its position paper on HDVC reliability, ENTSO-E recognises HDVC as an increasingly important method of transmitting large quantities of electrical energy for the Europe-wide transmission grid. As new HVDC connections play a key role in the future development of the continental transmission system, the reliability, availability, compatibility and robustness of the technology will be crucial for market and system security. For future challenges, high system security and the needs of an efficient European integrated market, it is essential that the owners of HVDC installations, together with other relevant HVDC stakeholders, focus not only on technology innovation but also on further process development, HVDC network integration studies and the maintainability to be carried out by transmission system operators (TSOs). ENTSO-E strongly supports more efficient cooperation between all HDVC players.

ENTSO-E has released a European electricity balancing guideline as well as a position paper on improving the reliability of HVDC systems  (picture of HVDC Plus IGBT converter modules: Siemens AG, www.siemens.com/presse)

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> See ENTSO-E press release on balancing market (html)
> Open Balancing Guideline (pdf, 892.3kB)
> See ENTSO-E press release on HDVC reliability (html)
> Open HDVC paper (pdf, 1.8MB)

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“RiffReporter” story: The more precise the forecast, the less intervention is required

11.12.2018

A detailed article by freelance journalist Daniela Becker on the German reportage website RiffReporter, an innovative and award-winning project for “quality journalism on future topics”, presents TSCNET Services and the work of a Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) for the European power transmission grid. The article is based on thorough research and a talk with the two TSCNET managing directors, Maik Neubauer and Uwe Zimmermann. Besides the development of the company, the possible consequences of the EU package “Clean Energy for All Europeans” are also discussed.

An article on TSCNET Services has been issued on the reportage platform RiffReporter (picture: TSCNET Services / Quirin Leppert)

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> Read RiffReporter article, in German (html)

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Coupling of renewables and PtG for climate targets

11.12.2018

In order to achieve ambitious climate targets, a rapid expansion of renewable energy generation is essential. The German market still has great offshore potential in this respect. However, regenerative expansion makes no sense if the corresponding transport or storage capacities are lacking. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is already known for its sustained efforts to significantly expand the transmission infrastructure in its control area as environmentally friendly as possible. But the TSO is also very active in the development of storage concepts, just consider, for example, the storage potential of the North Sea Wind Power Hub project or the “ELEMENT ONE” power-to-gas (PtG) pilot plant.

Together with Siemens and Shell, both global players in their respective fields, Tennet is now making additional efforts to promote the renewables as well as PtG. The three companies are convinced that green hydrogen will play a decisive role in the future energy mix as the basis for many power-to-X applications, which are technologies for storage and other uses of surplus electricity. TenneT, Siemens and Shell have thus commissioned a study on a new type of tender model for offshore wind capacity. This model intends to link the awarding of contracts for the operation of offshore plants to the production of hydrogen: The additional wind power from such facilities should not put too much strain on the onshore grid, but rather be used to generate hydrogen and even stablise the electricity grid. The green hydrogen can be transported via the gas grid and then be used in other sectors, such as industry or mobility.

Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, is determined to not squander any potential for renewable energies and convinced that PtG technologies provide flexibility, reduce the strain on the grid and make power supply more secure. “In the long term,” Mr Hartman continues, “the combination with hydrogen production can also be applied throughout Germany to other renewable energies. This advances the energy transition and helps to achieve our climate targets.”

TenneT, in cooperation with Siemens and Shell, proposes to couple offshore wind capacity tenders with PtG storage technologies (copyright photo composition by Stadtwerke Mainz)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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“The backbone of cross-border trading” at Euroforum Conference

08.12.2018

Euroforum is a prestigious German promoter of first-class conferences, seminars and meetings and a subsidiary of the Handelsblatt Media Group, which publishes the leading German-language business newspaper. The Euroforum events bring together experts from business, science and politics and create forums for the transfer of knowledge and the exchange of opinions. This year’s Euroforum conference on 6 and 7 December in Düsseldorf, the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, was dedicated to the topic of “Intraday trading in the electricity sector – digitisation and automation as growth drivers”.

TSCNET Services as one of the five European Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) – with fifteen transmission system operators (TSOs) from eleven central and eastern European countries as shareholders – can offer significant contributions on this area, which is why Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of the Munich-based company, gladly accepted the invitation of Euroforum to speak at the conference. Mr. Neubauer, who acted in the past also as Board Member of the European Energy Exchange EEX where he already was part of a task force to work on a concept for a pan-European Intraday Trading system, presented the work of the European RSCs to an audience of experts. He stated that the work of the RSCs – largely unnoticed by the general public – is important to ensure a stable transmission network for their TSO shareholders with regional risk analyses. “Without the 24/7 work of the European TSOs and the RSCs to keep the European grid stable there wouldn’t be a sustainable basis for an efficient energy market on the continent,” Neubauer said.

In the conference many discussions had been around the development of the new European Intraday Trading System XBID that helps traders, generators, but also TSOs, to balance out the grids within the day of delivery.

Maik Neubauer presented the transmission grid as backbone of cross-border trading at Euroforum Conference in Düsseldorf, Germany

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> Visit Euroforum Conference website, in German (html)

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Households supersede power plants

05.12.2018

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)

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

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Winter 2018/19: supply largely secured – monitoring required

28.11.2018

Where are congestions most likely to occur? What are the most important risks to the stability of the pan-European electrical transmission system and supply security in the upcoming winter? As every year, the Winter Outlook 2018/2019 – the supply security forecast of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) – tries to answer these and other significant questions as validly as possible in order to provide a reliable risk assessment for the next European electricity winter.

Good news first: The risks to the security of supply in the approaching cold season are moderate and supply is secured under normal conditions. Nevertheless, close monitoring is required in the event of cold spells. ENTSO-E pays particular attention to an area including Belgium, France, northern Italy, central northern Italy and Slovenia, which is partly due to unforeseen and delayed maintenance of production units in Belgium. In particular in January and February, monitoring will be necessary in the event of outages in connection with low wind and solar energy generation.

The Winter Outlook considers a number of factors that are relevant to safety analysis, such as hydro reservoirs, gas supply and changes in generation. This year’s edition reveals that the decline in conventional generation is persisting, while the increase in installed renewable generation capacity is higher than last winter. As usual, ENTSO-E presents the Winter Outlook together with an overview of the events of previous summer, that was characterised by far above-average temperatures, especially in northern and eastern Europe. This led to some local electricity supply disruptions in the Czech Republic, Croatia and Greece.

ENTSO-E has released the Winter Outlook 2018/2019, a consistent analysis of EU-wide risks to supply security

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> Open Winter Outlook 2018/2019 (pdf, 5.23MB)

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Amprion upgrades historic line

26.11.2018

The power line from Reutlingen-Rommelsbach to Herbertingen in the German state of Baden-Württemberg crosses the southwestern ridge of the Swabian Alb on a length of 61km. Dating back to the 1920s, the overhead line operated by Amprion, one of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), is an innovative pioneering achievement in the German transmission grid. Already in the Weimar Republic (the German state from 1918 to 1933), it was used to balance electricity between generation and consumption by connecting the Rhenish mining area with water storage facilities in the Alps.

Now it no longer meets the requirements of the energy present and future. TSCNET shareholder Amprion is therefore dismantling the old line and replacing it with new pylons and conductor ropes. Instead of the current 380 and 220kV circuits, the line will in future be equipped with two 380kV circuits. It will then enable an improved exchange of electrical energy between the wind power generation sites in the north, consumers in the residential and industrial areas, and pumped storage plants in the Alps. The line will thus strengthen regional supply as well as supra-regional transmission and is an important component of the energy transition.

A symbolic cut of the spade on 23 November in Zwiefalten-Sonderbuch on the Swabian Alb marked the official opening of Amprion’s currently largest construction site. Over the next two years, 221 old pylons will be dismantled and 181 new ones will be built. The key figures of the construction project are impressive: The TSO is investing a total of around €85m, and over 11,000 tonnes of steel, thousands of tonnes of concrete foundation and around 1500km of aluminium conductor rope will be used along the route. Due to the significance of the Reutlingen-Herbertingen line for industrial history, four old masts will be preserved as industrial monuments.

Amprion is completely rebuilding the historic Reutlingen-Herbertingen overhead line and improving it for the energy future (picture: Amprion, exemplary picture of line installation work)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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New transformer for Laufenburg substation

20.11.2018

The Laufenburg substation in the Swiss canton of Aargau is not only one of the largest substations in Europe connecting the electrical systems of several countries, but also the birthplace of the European integrated network operation: In 1958, the “Star of Laufenburg” was put into operation as the first interconnection of the French, German and Swiss electricity grids. TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid is now upgrading the substation so that it can continue to guarantee regional and supraregional security of supply also in the future. With this upgrade, the Swiss transmission system operator (TSO) is implementing an important part of its grid modernisation and expansion plan, the so-called “Strategic Grid 2025”.

Already in 2017, the old 220kV outdoor switchgear in Laufenburg was replaced by a gas-insulated unit. The by now outdated transformer from 1966 is currently also being replaced, increasing the transformer capacity of the substation from 600MVA to 800MVA. The new 380/220kV transformer was manufactured in the Siemens plant in Weiz in the eastern part of the Austrian state of Styria and shipped from there to the Rhine port of Muttenz near Basel. The subsequent delivery of all individual parts of the device from the port to Laufenburg took around three weeks. The four poles of the transformer, each weighing about 200 tonnes, were moved individually on a special road transportation unit with twenty axes. At the same time, sixteen trucks brought additional material for the installation of the transformer to Laufenburg.

The new transformer will be installed with concrete walls surrounding each pole providing space for the connections of all poles, of which only three will be in operation simultaneously. Thanks to the installed connections, the reserve pole can be put into operation at short notice. Replacement of an active pole by a reserve pole is planned at five-year intervals, which will significantly increase the transformer’s lifespan. The commissioning of the new equipment is scheduled for mid-2019.

Swissgrid installs new 800MVA transformer at the Laufenburg substation in the canton of Aargau (picture: Swissgrid)

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> See Swissgrid news release (html)
> Watch video of the transport on Swissgrid’s YouTube channel (“Transport eines Giganten”, in German with English subtitles)

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Autonomous drones for digital line maintenance

14.11.2018

The supra-regional Austrian transmission grid is about 3,500km long. This critical infrastructure must be constantly monitored, which can be very demanding, as power lines often run in impassable terrain. In the future, digital solutions will not only determine the control of the entire power system, but also have the potential to facilitate the continuous monitoring of supply lines. This is why the Austrian TSCNET shareholder APG is one of the first transmission system operators (TSOs) in Europe to test autonomous flying drones.

“Operating a power grid is a high-tech business today,” comments Gerhard Christiner, CTO at APG, and continues that the TSO is always searching for technological innovations to continuously improve system safety. Paul Zachoval and Rainer Wagenhofer, project managers for APG’s drone project, explain: “In order to check the APG network for possible damage, our colleagues in the line maintenance team cover a distance every year whose length corresponds to the distance from Vienna to Beijing. The possibilities offered by autonomous flying drones to support this inspection work are enormous.”

After almost six years of development, expectations are high. Some damage to power lines can only be seen from the air and the drones can provide information about current damage even in bad weather and poor visibility. Drones allow shorter inspection intervals and can thus improve security of supply. And finally, they also contribute to the safety of employees, as in many cases it will no longer be necessary to climb the pylons. APG’s recent tests are conducted in cooperation with the Lower Austrian company SmartDigital Concepts (SDC). The SDC flight devices are high-tech drones developed specifically for the requirements of TSOs among others. They are equipped with specialised measuring devices and cameras for the maintenance of infrastructure systems.

APG ist testing autonomous drones for digital line maintenance (picture: screenshot taken from demonstration video)

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> See APG press release, in German (html)
> Watch APG demonstration video “Fliegende Helfer”, in German (YouTube)

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TSOs support ENTSO-E to prevent frequency deviations

13.11.2018

The Continental European (CE) Power System which comprises the synchronised transmission grids of 25 countries has been subject to occasional deviations from the 50Hz mid-frequency since late 2017. Each time the deviations originated from the Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro (SMM) control block, specifically from the control areas of Kosovo and Serbia – an example of how a regional conflict in an interconnected system can have pan-European impacts. The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has consistently undertaken efforts to find a political solution to the problem, and the CE transmission system operators (TSOs) have pledged their support in addition to the technical measures they are implementing anyway to limit the deviations.

Obviously, the problem is not only an issue for ENTSO-E and its members, but also of interest to the general public. It needs to be solved in order to keep the system consistently stable, to avoid further time deviations in electronically controlled watches, to limit financial effects, and ultimately to avoid a potential blackout in Europe. Considering the next winter period, this should happen in the short term. ENTSO-E is therefore in close and continuous exchange with the two responsible TSOs, EMS from Serbia and KOSTT from Kosovo, and has the task of facilitating a solution between the TSOs.

ENTSO-E’s Regional Group CE, which represents all transmission system operators of the 25 countries in the CE synchronous area, voted last week on a proposal to put an end to the deviations. The suggestion aims to provide a basis for a transitional solution and does not impose a principle on either of the two TSOs. ENTSO-E’s proposal was widely supported by the TSOs, although the work-in-progress version of the operational principles could not be approved. ENTSO-E continues its discussions with EMS and KOSTT.

The continental European TSOs support ENTSO-E in preventing further frequency deviations in the synchronised European power system (picture: photo composition using screenshots of Swissgrid’s frequency monitor and a press picture from Swissgrid)

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> See ENTSO-E press release (html)

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