“The pan-European market demands flexibility and efficiency”

17.07.2020

The current virus pandemic reminds some people in the energy sector of the 2006 incident, when a rather routine but postponed switch-off of a single power line led to a Europe-wide chain reaction due to misjudgements and lack of communication between energy suppliers and transmission system operators (TSOs). The resulting failure of further lines and under- and over-frequencies affected large parts of Europe and ten million people were without electricity for up to one and a half hours. The Union for the Coordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE), the predecessor organisation of the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E), described the incident as one of the most serious failures ever to occur in Europe.

According to Klaus Lucas, Professor Emeritus at RWTH Aachen University and Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, the 2006 blackout was “the prime example of a systemic risk. Like a virus epidemic, a random harmful event can spread in a complex system and, in unpredictable ways, paralyse structures that were actually believed to be stable”. Mr Lucas expressed this view to Zweitausend50, the magazine of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft – BDEW), a business organisation representing over 1800 companies from the energy and water industry. And since the establishment of the Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) was a reaction of the European Commission to the 2006 incident, it is plausible that Zweitausend50 also made contact with TSCNET Services and had an interview with Uwe Zimmermann, one of the two Managing Directors of the Munich-based RSC, on this issue.

Europe’s highly meshed power transmission system is one of the most complex critical infrastructures in the world and the more intensive the interconnectedness, the more susceptible the network is to unwanted domino or feedback effects. The strain on the system has recently been further increased by the volatile generation capacities of renewable energy sources. The role of RSCs has thus become all the more important. The five European RSCs forecast the capacity utilisation of power lines based on expected electricity generation and consumption for the following day and determine the extent to which individual lines may be overloaded. In this way, the RSCs identify potential risks in the system, evaluate them continuously and counteract possible bottlenecks and power failures. They do this in support of the respective TSOs within their area of responsibility, in the case of TSCNET Services this is central and eastern Europe.

Uwe Zimmermann compares this function with a navigation system: “Basically, we continuously monitor traffic – i.e. the operational status of the grids, current capacities, consumption and market data – and proactively determine at which points a congestion could occur. Whenever we forecast such a congestion, we provide timely recommendations in coordination with the TSOs on how the traffic can be redirected – like an alternative route.” Zimmermann emphasises, however, that the responsibility for implementing these recommendations remains with the TSOs.

In view of the progressing energy transition in the course of which the number and volatility of generators is increasing and the transmission distances for electricity are becoming ever larger, Uwe Zimmermann does not deny the challenges for RSCs: “As a result, our lead times could become increasingly shorter and this would make it more and more challenging to predict the following day and take timely action.” Nevertheless, the TSCNET managing director remains confident about the performance of the RSCs: “Fortunately, however, we can respond to this. We are getting ready to accelerate our process cycles more and more and to process ever larger amounts of data to continue to ensure reliable forecasts.”

TSCNET Managing Director Uwe Zimmermann is confident that RSCs will continue to provide reliable support to TSOs and guarantee system security

Linkup
> Open BDEW Zweitausend50 webpage, in German (html)

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Swapping numbers for people – the story of Mihály Kapás

09.07.2020

At the turn of the millennium Phil Collins sang his famous song “Son of Man” for Disney’s animated film “Tarzan”. There is a much-quoted verse in it: “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn. You’ll find your place beside the ones you love.” Although the world has changed considerably since this text was written, its message seems timeless: teaching and learning not only brings people together and promotes team spirit, but also creates an environment in which great ideas can be born and flourish. For Mihály Kapás, the new Senior Training & Licensing Manager in our Service Operations business unit, these lines are a constant inspiration and a kind of motto for his career.

The 37-year-old comes from Hungary, where he earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. After graduating, Mihály joined the Hungarian power transmission system operator (TSO) MAVIR and became a specialist in planning network operations. He stayed with the company for 14 years and gained important insights into the different departments and tasks of a TSO. Over time, Mihály realized that his true vocation in the energy world is not in numbers, but in working more closely with the people who form the backbone of the security of the European power grid. He decided to follow his passion and opened the door to the world of training, mentoring and coaching by completing an internationally recognized coaching programme and taking responsibility for internal training. Through his work he made contact with many colleagues from the energy world, including employees of TSCNET Services. Mihály states that this experience gave him the inspiration to move to our company from Budapest to Munich, as he felt that TSCNET and its employees were very much in line with his vision.

In his new role, Mihály will use the knowledge he has acquired over the years to support the different business units through customized training. “For me, TSCNET is a hub of people, ideas, and information,” states our most recent newcomer. “Whatever happens here, might have an effect on the whole system.” As someone who grew up in a multicultural family and already speaks English, Spanish and Russian apart from Hungarian, he is also looking forward to learning German in addition to his daily work tasks and to applying his diverse experience to his work with us. Since Mihály, like many of his new colleagues, loves motorcycling and likes to be in nature, this should be an exciting mixture. There are two popular quotes from Phil Collins that come to mind: “Deep inside us we’re not that different at all”, or, also from the “Tarzan” soundtrack, “Put your faith in what you most believe in”. Either way: Welcome to the team!

Mihály Kapás is the new Senior Training & Licensing Manager in our Service Operations business unit

Linkup
> See Mihály’s LinkedIn profile (html)

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Difficult to procure – welcome, Marcela!

02.07.2020

“Procurement is not only about negotiating prices – it is about creating long-term partnerships beneficial for all involved parties,” says Marcela Ostafie, the new Procurement and Contract Manager in the Portfolio Management unit at TSCNET Services. Marcela, who chose the company because of its “fresh, international, young environment”, is looking forward to supporting all needs relating to all major purchasing processes and contractual arrangements and ensuring that business partnerships continue to flourish.

The 46-year old Romanian holds a diploma in business administration from the Munich University of Applied Sciences and has gained professional experience in a variety of areas during tenures with companies such as Airbus Group, Huawei Technologies and the Deutsche Bahn AG. In her functions as Category Manager and Strategic Buyer, Marcela contributed and expanded her knowledge on supply chains, project management as well as successful procurement. Thanks to her detailed insights into these important business operations, she comes to TSCNET equipped with great ideas and driven to make a lasting positive impact.

In her new position, Marcela will focus on implementing robust procurement processes and improving them together with her co-workers from Portfolio Management. Apart from her work responsibilities, Marcela is also taking care of her two lovely cats Luna and Lucky, who have been with her for three years. “Find out what your business partner loves and put your claws into it”, says the advice of financial market expert Clem Chambers in his article “Five Things Businesses Can Learn From Cats” in “Forbes”. We’re pretty sure that Marcela has some negotiating skills, but you don’t have to take this claw thing too literally. “Meow!”

Marcela Ostafie has joined TSCNET Services as the new Procurement and Contract Manager in the Portfolio Management unit

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A journey through the energy world – welcome, Abror!

01.07.2020

Maintaining the operational security of the European electricity system requires the highest level of expertise, ability to make the right decisions in stressful situations, and dedication – especially in our Service Operations business unit. Abror Shamsiev, our new Junior Operations Manager, should be well qualified for this and has already gained experience in ensuring that electricity processes run smoothly and efficiently.

The 29-year-old Abror comes from Uzbekistan, where he completed his basic studies in Electrical Engineering at the Tashkent State Technical University and also started his professional career. His journey in the energy sector began in 2010, the last year of his undergraduate studies, when Abror joined the Coordinating Dispatch Centre “Energy” in Tashkent, which acts as Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) similar to TSCNET in Central Asia. He worked there for a total of five years. During this time, he was also involved in a fellowship programme in Brussels at the Energy Charter Secretariat, which focused on electricity transit pricing in transition countries. Inspired by his time in Brussels, he decided to pursue a European graduate education and in March 2019 obtained a Master’s degree from the Technical University of Kaiserslautern in Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany. Thanks to his experience both in Central Asia and in the EU, Abror has gained valuable insights into the field of energy security and has been able to build up an impressive range of skills.

Abror will now use his rich experience and qualifications to help further improve our services to our customers. He is particularly excited about the opportunity to focus more on energy security issues in Europe at the highest level. Doing this with equally ambitious colleagues “is the cherry on top”, says Abror. The team spirit at TSCNET embodies a working culture that can be described very well with an Uzbek proverb: One head is good, two are better. Fortunately, with Abror we have gained what appears to be a rather clever additional head.

TSCNET welcomes Abror Shamsiev, new Junior Operations Manager in the Service Operations unit

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Chilean with electrifying mission – welcome, Claudio!

30.06.2020

The European power transmission grid supplies an entire continent with energy and ensures that its citizens have constant access to energy. As it is the largest synchronous network in the world, it is of the utmost importance to correctly simulate electricity movements so that secure transmission can be guaranteed now and in the future. It is this fascinating task that Claudio López, the newest member of our Service Development Unit, has brought to us. Claudio has recently joined TSCNET Services as a Business Analyst and wants to contribute all the knowledge the 35-year-old Chilean has already acquired in his career.

Claudio holds an M.Sc. degree in Energy Technology from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Southwest Germany and the Uppsala University in Sweden. Before joining TSCNET, Claudio worked as Research Assistant in the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology (Fraunhofer IEE) in Kassel and did research as part of his PhD program at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. There he was part of the Intelligent Electrical Power Grids group for four years. He was dedicated to the search for a method to accelerate the communication between geographically distributed dynamic energy system simulators. The basic idea of this project was to integrate models from different places without exchanging them. At each new location, Claudio was able to gain detailed insights into the continent’s complex power system and understand its many facets. A Chilean proverb fits this perfectly: “The dog that doesn’t walk doesn’t find a bone.”

At TSCNET, Claudio’s focus will be assisting the Service Development team in their work on the Common Grid Model Specification Standard. We are sure that the sometimes bumpy road ahead will be no barrier for Claudio, who has been a mountain biker since his youth and knows exactly how to overcome obstacles to reach his goal successfully. And if the challenges in his job are not big enough for him, 53 mountain peaks of more than 2000 metres height are waiting for him and his bike in the administrative district of Upper Bavaria in the south of Munich alone, and that’s only where the Alps begin …

Claudio López has joined TSCNET Services as the new Business Analyst in the Service Development Unit 

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ENTSO-E pays tribute to the work done for IT tools

21.06.2020

As already reported in our news blog, the pan-European IT tools for Outage Planning Coordination (OPC) and Short-Term Adequacy (STA) are operational since the end of March and the end of May 2020, respectively. OPC and STA are services provided by Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) and transmission system operators (TSOs) to increase the operational security of Europe’s power system. The OPC tool allows all five European RSCs and 38 TSOs to coordinate outage planning on a weekly basis, while the STA tool provides them with daily calculations based on generation and demand forecasts of all ENTSO-E member TSOs. These calculations help to identify possible adequacy deficiencies for the coming week.

The tools that now work are based on prototypes developed by the two major European RSCs out of the five. The pilot of the OPC tool was created by TSCNET Services in Munich, Germany, while the STA tool is based on a prototype of CORESO, based in Brussels. Both tools run on the ENTSO-E Communication and Connectivity Service Platform (ECCoSP) and demonstrate the continuing commitment and efforts of the entire TSO community: TSOs, RSCs, and ENTSO-E.

Tahir Kapetanovic, Head of the Control Centre of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, and Chairman of the ENTSO-E System Operation Committee, considers cross-border coordination and intensive cooperation to be essential for the smooth functioning of the European power system. “Jointly developed pan-European IT tools such as the OPC and STA tools, allow uniform norms and standards for network operation to be put into practice.”

ENTSO-E appreciates the cooperation between RSCs and TSOs in the development of the pan-European IT tools for OPC and STA

Linkup
> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> Watch ENTSO-E video on the OPC tool (YouTube)
> Watch ENTSO-E video on the STA tool (YouTube)

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New IT tools for Europe-wide supply security

08.06.2020

The digitisation of grid operation is constantly increasing and requires continuous optimisation, e.g. in terms of outage planning coordination and adequacy analysis – both aspects are integral parts of the Annual Work Programme 2020 of the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E). Two new IT tools to simplify the cooperation of transmission system operators (TSOs) and allow better anticipation of the balance between supply and demand are available since this spring and currently used by a total of 38 TSOs. Under the coordination of ENTSO-E, the “Outage Planning Coordination (OPC) Pan European Merge Tool” and “Short Term Adequacy forecast (STA) tool” have been developed jointly with the Munich based Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) TSCNET Services playing a leading role in the development of OPC.

Tahir Kapetanovic, Head of the Control Centre of TSCNET shareholder APG, the Austrian TSO, and Chairman of the ENTSO-E System Operation Committee, comments on the latest success: “The cross-border coordination and intensive cooperation of all national TSOs are the preconditions for a smooth functioning of the power supply across the European Union. By means of such jointly developed tools, uniform norms and standards for network operation can truly be implemented into practice.”

The launching of both tools may be considered as further evidence of the well-established pan-European cooperation of European TSOs and RSCs. STA enables a short to medium-term prognosis for load management, which is particularly important in view of the energy transition to compensate for the volatility of renewable power generation with innovative solutions and to integrate them smartly into the system. With the OPC Pan European Merge Tool, concept originally developed by TSCNET Services, the TSOs and RSCs can plan power outages on a regional level, including coordination of maintenance and inspections. Electricity supply and trade are thus ensured despite the necessary shutdowns.

The need for OPC on a pan-European level across the different RSCs and the corresponding concept of a harmonised outage planning process dates back to 2012, when the TSOs of the central and eastern European regions established the TSC (TSO Security Cooperation) area. The Medium-Long-Term Operational Planning (MLTOP) project of the TSC TSOs, which was started at that time, is the origin of the OPC tool. When TSCNET Services emerged in 2015 from the joint TSC TSO office in Munich, the MLTOP project was carried on by TSCNET for prototype and business process development in coordination with the TSC TSOs. In the same year, ENTSO-E launched the TSO Project for Coordination Strategy Implementation with the Regional Security Coordination Initiatives (RSCIs), which was continued later under the EU System Operation Guideline (SO GL). This extended the scope of the MLTOP project from the TSC area to the whole of Europe and it became the foundation of the OPC project.

In December 2017, the prototype resulting from the OPC project, owned and developed by TSCNET, went live on a pan-European scale and provided the initial service to all TSOs and RSCs in Europe. Now the prototype tool has been converted into and replaced by a fully-fledged industrial tool: the OPC Pan European Merge Tool, whose development represents a unique success story for TSCNET services and the associated TSOs. What was once an idea for cooperation in the TSC area has been further developed and prototyped by TSCNET in close cooperation with the TSOs and has now evolved into an industrialised pan-European tool used by the outage planners of 38 TSOs and four other RSCs.

TSCNET Services as a major contributor
The OPC project and its development process is a good example of what can be achieved through intensive cooperation between TSOs and RSCs. TSCNET successfully took the lead in this cooperative effort and managed not only to develop services on a pan-European level, but also to successfully coordinate with other stakeholders (RSCs, TSOs and ENTSO-E) and convince them to be part of the success. The development of the OPC project fits perfectly with the narrative of the definition of TSO, RSC and European coordination: The RSCs provide services to TSOs by setting up business processes and tools with their unique regional and technical expertise, thereby combining the knowledge of the individual TSOs – and if the concept has proven to work, they scale it up for the rest of Europe and centralise the infrastructure if necessary (and requested by ENTSO-E).

TSCNET is indebted to its Service Analytics & Quality Manager and responsible OPC Project Convener, Jayaram Anandha, to Sonja Tomić, Junior Operations Manager, and Jorge Alves, Operations Manager, for their input in the development of this highly efficient tool. The predecessor as OPC Project Convener, Tin Bobetko, and Michalis Stamoulis jointly led the business and data standard development of the OPC prototype tool, which was running perfectly until the industrialised version went live.

Two new IT tools for TSO cooperation, one of which developed by TSCNET, have been introduced and improve European supply security 

Linkup
> See APG press release (html)

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Putting together Europe’s power puzzle

16.04.2020

“Electricity is really just organised lightning,” said George Carlin, the Grammy award winning American comedian. But this organising thing is bloody complex. To provide exceptional service in the electricity business, one needs to understand the many important pieces of this exciting industry, which form a powerful puzzle together. Ivana Duraković has recently joined TSCNET Services as an Operations Manager in the Business Unit Service Operations and is well experienced in looking at such details. She looks forward to contributing her knowledge to the company’s success together with her new colleagues.

Ivana is 35 years old and originally from Croatia, where she obtained her Master of Engineering degree at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Osijek, the economic and cultural centre of Croatia’s Slavonia region. Upon completion of her studies, she felt drawn to the capital city Zagreb and joined Croatia’s transmission system operator (TSO) HOPS. Ivana started her eleven-year long tenure with the company by working in various subsidiaries, for example one specialised in metering devices. After having acquired a wide understanding of the basics, equipment and coordination, she broadened her horizon by taking on new duties as a power system dispatcher. In her new role, she gained insights into the fascinating world of power flows, power system stability, and electricity grid processes. Before joining TSCNET, Ivana held the position of Head of Power System Control Centre at HOPS.

The energy doesn’t stop after work
Looking at Ivana’s passion for electricity, it only makes sense that she is very energetic in her free time, too. She is a climber, snowboarder, and lindy hop dancer, who knows how to perform lindy hop aerials, an acrobatic technique developed in the 30s. As a frequent traveller, she also enjoys learning new languages and even speaks basic Chinese.

At TSCNET, she will use her expertise and power to boost the operations quality and support the team in its daily business. Along the way, she will also have many opportunities to pick up new words in one of the many languages represented in our so diverse staff. She can then tell her former fellow workers about it, after all HOPS is one of the customers and, at worst, just a phone call away.

TSCNET Services hired Ivana Duraković as Operations Manager in the Business Unit Service Operations 

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Interview: “Consumption drop considered”

27.03.2020

The current decline in Europe-wide electricity consumption is significant and requires both European transmission system operators (TSOs) and Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) to adapt to the lower feed-in rates. “In general, it is expected that the demand for electricity in 2020 will decrease noticeably due to the corona crisis. Some EU member states expect a drop of 10 to 15 percent of annual electricity demand,” explains Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based RSC in an interview with “ZfK” (Zeitung für Kommunale Wirtschaft), one of Germany’s leading trade journals of the energy and utility industry.

As regards the reaction of energy market participants, Neubauer comments that this decline is being considered in grid management and included in the daily forecasting processes by the TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs). Neubauer sees no threat to supply security: “All suppliers and operators of power plants and critical infrastructures have emergency plans.” These are implemented immediately to ensure the operability of the infrastructures. A favourable factor is that there are currently no external influences, such as natural disasters or critical grid situations, to interfere with operational processes. “The main focus is currently on protecting the operational personnel in order to ensure 24/7 operation of the critical infrastructure levels.”

Needless to say, this also applies to TSCNET Services itself. Although the European RSCs do not have direct grid control responsibility, they do carry out the regional analysis of the transmission system together with the TSOs and act as an early warning system, which identifies possible bottlenecks and dangerous situations. Together with the TSO control centres, the RSC then initiates mitigation measures. To continue providing 24/7 support to TSOs, TSCNET has taken all actions to protect its staff from the pandemic. This includes sending almost all employees to work from home and special protective measures for the operations team. Since almost all TSCNET processes are already highly digitised, the current situation does not present the Munich RSC with extreme challenges.

Despite the pandemic-related decline in power consumption, Maik Neubauer expects no fundamental problems for grid security

Linkup
> Visit “ZfK” interview, in German (html, paywall)

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“The grid demands digitisation and AI”

02.03.2020

Europe’s high-voltage grid has a total length of around 485,000km and continuously feeds in approx. 1,152,017MW of electricity. The transnational grid can be considered as the backbone of all European critical infrastructures, whose reliable operation is essential for Europe to function as an economic zone. Since this aspect is too often neglected, Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based Regional Security Coordinator (RSC), has taken the opportunity to share his views on the prospects of the European electricity transmission system in an interview in the current issue (1/2020) of the “THEMEN:magazin”. This German-language medium bi-monthly provides reports on economic challenges and opportunities with a focus on energy policy.

Neubauer points out that, although the European interconnected grid is one of the most complex infrastructures in the world, there have so far hardly been any significant blackout situations – thanks to the cooperation of the European transmission system operators (TSOs), which has been well-established for decades. But since the energy transition is a pan-European project, the increasing flows of electricity from renewable sources do not stop at the border. European TSOs face the challenge of integrating numerous additional energy sources into the grid and operational control processes. Due to the predominance of nuclear and fossil power generation to date, the forecasting and control processes for optimum utilisation and balancing of the European grid have so far been rather deterministic, which is currently changing at a rapid pace with the volatile renewable energies.

Therefore, in addition to grid expansion and swift digitisation of control processes, increased European coordination of congestion and capacity management is essential. The EU network codes and, of course, the RSCs are crucial for this, as Neubauer emphasises. The RSCs receive data on expected grid situations from almost all European TSOs. This information is aggregated by the RSCs to provide an “early warning system” that identifies potential bottlenecks and threats to the grid. The RSCs thus support their TSO customers to counteract potential blackout situations in Europe by taking real- and near-time mitigation actions in their system operations and planning departments. Nevertheless, according to Neubauer, swift digitisation is inevitable to cope with the increasing data volumes in European grid management caused by the integration of renewable energy sources.

Without the seamless interaction of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT), secure grid management will hardly be possible in the future. Neubauer also predicts that without a high level of artificial intelligence (AI), the complexity in critical infrastructures will no longer be controllable by humans in the medium term. Therefore, AI will soon also radically change the energy sector. Neubauer is well aware, however, that IT security and cyber security must have the highest priority in order to safeguard developments in AI and protect highly critical infrastructures from misuse or even terrorism.

“Artificial intelligence will be indispensable” – in an interview with the “THEMEN:magazin”, Maik Neubauer presented his view on the perspectives of the European electricity transmission system

Linkup
> Visit “THEMEN:magazin” webpage, in German (html)

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