Successful trial run for Equigy

09.09.2020

Fluctuations in the transmission grid are an emerging concern for European transmission system operators (TSOs) as volatile renewable generation gains in importance with the energy transition and more and more large scale power plants that stabilise the grid are being decommissioned – resulting in a considerable loss of reactive power. TSOs need to take remedial action involving intelligent technologies and supported by small, decentralised energy sources to keep production and consumption in balance. One such solution for the provision of primary control energy is the crowd balancing platform Equigy launched by the Swiss TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid in cooperation with further TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, and the Italian TSO Terna.

Kick-off for Equigy was in April 2020 and the objective is a new European standard allowing the participating – and possibly more – TSOs to collaborate for promotion and improvement of the renewable energy market. The innovative platform is based on blockchain technology and the Internet of Things to enable the integration of small, decentralised units such as home battery storage systems, photovoltaic systems, small-scale hydropower systems, heat pumps or even electric cars into the balancing energy market. The pilot project now has reached its first milestone: Together with Alpiq, a Swiss energy services provider and electricity producer, Swissgrid has successfully tested the process of calling up primary control power through the balancing platform. The test employed a 1.2MW battery as a flexible energy resource. Alpiq has assumed the role of commercial aggregator, linking the technical aggregator, which controls the controllable resources, with Swissgrid.

In particular, the call-up of primary control energy included the registration of flexible resources, submission of offers and awarding of bids, as well as real-time monitoring of data exchange between Alpiq and Swissgrid. The test has proven that a blockchain can support the process of providing primary control power and that aggregators or storage owners with backend systems can integrate the blockchain interfaces. The Equigy trial run has clearly indicated the potential of blockchain solutions for the future support of business processes in the field of primary control energy – this is a fundamental finding and a significant step forward. The next steps concern the evaluation of possible business models among the participating partners.

The blockchain-based crowd balancing platform Equigy by Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna passed trial run

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Launch of the Equigy balancing platform

25.04.2020

To ensure the stability of the grid frequency, transmission system operators (TSOs) all over Europe respond to the increasingly volatile generation of energy from renewable sources and to the loss of reactive power from large power plants. The challenge of keeping production and consumption in balance does not stop at national borders, for which reason the TSCNET shareholders Swissgrid, the TSO from Switzerland, and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, are cooperating with the Italian TSO Terna in the crowd balancing platform Equigy. The platform is based on blockchain technology and the internet of things. It is conceived as digital link between the so-called TSO ancillary service markets and the market players that deliver balancing services. TSCNET customer Energinet, the Danish TSO, has formally expressed its intention to join the consortium, which would extend Equigy’s roll-out to Denmark.

With their cross-border cooperation, the consortium of Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna wants to set a new electricity-balancing standard, improve the integration of renewables, and provide more flexibility to reduce the renewables’ random impact on the grid. As with previous, regionally limited balancing projects, Equigy aims to unlock flexibility by actively involving small and distributed consumer-based generation and consumption units in grid stabilisation. This involvement enables owners of small-scale assets to play a key role in the transformation of the energy sector by optimising their interaction with the grid. Since Equigy processes multiple small transactions, it requires a secure and scalable solution that ensures trust and transparency between all parties involved. The common vision of the participating TSOs is clear: Millions of households will stabilise the electricity grid in the future.

Open and free of charge
Equigy is based on block chain technology to execute transactions from millions of individual systems securely, cost-effectively, and transparently. This creates a single, immutable, and secure data source from which all parties can benefit. Precise rules and regulations allow consumers, businesses, and manufacturers to easily market the flexible capacity of electric vehicles, household batteries, and heat pumps in all participating countries, regardless of location, thereby simplifying access to the electricity market. At the same time, all local or regional flexibility platforms can be connected to the Equigy platform so that as much flexibility as possible can be bundled. This means: Equigy is not exclusive and can be integrated into existing grid stabilisation processes. The technology and software are open-source and provided free of charge to promote the development of secondary applications in the energy value chain. Equigy has now been successfully launched, and the pilot project to test the technology will run until the end of 2020.

In Switzerland, the project has attracted a lot of interest. Numerous partners have expressed an interest in participating. Yves Zumwald, CEO of Swissgrid, comments: “We are proud to be a founding partner of Equigy. It’s only natural that this ambitious initiative is being driven by TSOs. We are not subject to commercial constraints and are able to operate the new platform adopting a neutral position.” Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, can also be pleased to have various Equigy partners in Germany and the Netherlands. She emphasises the European dimension of the project: “Equigy originated from European cooperation. In a common European market, we will have to develop solutions together. We already have the same sockets. It would be a shame and unnecessarily expensive to develop different systems.”

Expansion to the north
The Danish TSO Energinet recognises the potential of Equigy and is highly interested in participating. The consortium behind Equigy appreciates this interest. Swissgrid, TenneT, Terna, and Energinet have thus signed a Letter of Intent in which the parties confirm their common interest in including Energinet in Equigy. Energinet will now examine the possibilities of becoming part of the cooperation. All partners aim to take a decision on Energinet’s accession before the end of this year. Søren Dupont Kristensen, CEO of Energinet Electricity System Operator, explains: “We are now investigating the potential of this platform in the context of the Danish energy system. Based on our findings, we will decide on joining the collaboration regarding the platform.”

The blockchain based crowd balancing platform Equigy has been launched by Swissgrid, TenneT, and Terna

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> See Swissgrid news release (html)
> See TenneT news release (html)
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TenneT creates, invests and researches for the energy future

12.03.2020

Promoting the energy transition is a priority objective of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). This is clearly reflected in the TSO’s just-published Integrated Annual Report. As in recent years, the Annual Report is accompanied by the Green Finance Report 2019.

In line with the energy policy and climate goals of the Netherlands and Germany, TenneT increased its investments yet again in 2019 and spent €3.1bn on the energy transition and supply security (grid availability of 99.9998% in 2019). This financial commitment is even to be stepped up: TenneT is planning annual investments of €4bn to €5bn for the future. The financial performance of the company, with revenues of €4.1bn in 2019 and an EBIT (excluding special effects) of €753m, supports these ambitious plans. Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, has every reason to be content with the sound development of the TSO: “We have made great strides again in pursuing our ambition to achieve a sustainable energy future for everyone. Not only in realising and developing new onshore and offshore connections, but also by the required far-reaching international cooperation and working on innovations in close coordination with relevant stakeholders.”

As regards offshore connections, TenneT has already exceeded in 2019 the German government’s expansion target for offshore wind power capacity in the North and Baltic Sea, which is 6.5GW for 2020. With last year’s commissioning of BorWin 3, TenneT’s ninth offshore grid connection system in DC technology, the TSO now has a total of twelve offshore grid connections in operation (nine in DC and three in AC technology) with a total capacity of 7.1GW. But TenneT is not resting on its successes to date: The connection systems DolWin5, DolWin6, and BorWin5 are being developed and will increase the offshore transmission capacity provided by TenneT for wind farms in the German North Sea to almost 10GW by 2025. In addition, Borssele Alpha, TenneT’s first offshore connection system in AC technology in the Dutch North Sea, was installed on schedule and is now ready for operation. Borssele Beta will be completed in 2020.

Onshore, TenneT has eight transmission lines under construction in Germany, more than ever before. In the Netherlands, the 60km-long Randstad 380kV North Ring power line was put into operation, reliably supplying Europe’s most densely populated area with electricity and providing transmission capacity for green energy. At European level, the “green” COBRAcable deserves special mention, which since 2019 directly connects the Dutch and Danish markets for the first time. The German and Norwegian markets will also be directly connected by the NordLink cable, which is currently under construction. On top of this, a proof-of-concept for the North Sea Wind Power Hub has shown the technical feasibility of the concept of multiple wind power distribution hubs in the North Sea.

All these grid expansion projects are complemented by innovative solutions and intensive research to better utilise TenneT’s existing transmission system. These include vehicle-to-grid pilots, the deployment of home storage systems in grid stabilisation and digital solutions for higher grid utilisation. Another long-term innovation project is Element One, a 100MW electrolysis plant to be built in Germany to promote an integrated energy system.

TenneT presents Integrated Annual Report 2019 and Green Finance Report 2019 (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> Visit Integrated Annual Report 2019 site (html)
> Direct access to the report download (html)
> Open Green Finance Report 2019 (pdf, 802.38kB)

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TenneT concludes successful V2G pilot

04.03.2020

Considering the increase in renewable energies, electromobility represents an additional challenge, but also an opportunity for transmission system operators (TSOs). The decentralised feed-in of renewable energies leads to transport bottlenecks in the transmission grid, but when it comes to balancing power generation and consumption, electric vehicles can contribute to maintaining the balance and security of supply. For this reason, TSCNET shareholder Tennet, the Dutch-German TSO, is intensively researching this field. Together with car manufacturer Nissan and energy service provider The Mobility House, the TSO now has successfully concluded a substantive vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot project, which was initiated in March 2018.

As part of a SINTEG (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie” – “Smart Energy Showcases“) project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the partners have investigated the potential of electric vehicle batteries in storing and feeding back locally produced electricity in order to stabilise the power grid and at the same time increase the use of renewable energies and save CO2. During the project phase, Nissan electric vehicles were deployed as mobile energy storage systems in the TenneT control area in northern and southern Germany to instantly reduce local overloads in power supply and demand.

The project offers a significant solution to the increasingly frequent bottlenecks. The wind power available in northern Germany was used by electric cars in the region. At the same time, in the south, electricity from fully charged batteries of Nissan LEAF vehicles was fed back into the grid instead of raising fossil generation. These smart redistribution measures were controlled by software from The Mobility House, the smart charge and energy management system ChargePilot, which follows TenneT’s specifications and also considers the mobility and charging requirements of vehicle users.

TenneT managing director Tim Meyerjürgens comments on the V2G research: “The pilot project has shown that we will be able to use electric mobility in the future to flexibly manage renewable electricity production, which is highly dependent on the weather. This relieves the strain on the electricity grid and helps us to limit the expensive throttling of wind turbines. The short-term flexibility, which is thus provided to us by electromobility, can supplement the grid expansion and become an important component of the energy transition.”

TenneT, Nissan, and The Mobility House have successfully concluded a research project on the use of automobile battery systems for grid stabilisation (picture: screenshot taken from TenneT video “Kooperationsprojekt Stabilisierung des Stromnetzes – Vehicle 2 Grid“, YouTube)

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ELES and Renault cooperate in e-mobility project

09.08.2019

“Demonstration of User-Friendly E-Vehicle Charging Solutions for Promoting Mass Use of E-Vehicles in Europe – INCIT-EV” is the somewhat lengthy but therefore very precise and apposite name of a research project conceived by TSCNET shareholder ELES together with 32 international partners. Probably the most prominent cooperation partner of the Slovenian transmission system operator (TSO) is the French multinational automobile manufacturer Renault, but the Italian automotive industry is also actively involved.

The core objective of the project, funded by the EU with around €15m under the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme, is the utilisation of advanced charging infrastructures and technologies and the development of corresponding business models. INCIT-EV is designed in line with the concept of the “E8 E-Vehicle Mass Charging Infrastructure” developed by ELES, which strives to make charging as simple, intuitive, and user-friendly as possible. The aim of the TSO is to extend the Slovenian E8 concept to the European level. The project partners also use neuroscientific techniques to adapt the development of the technology to the unconscious preferences and subjective expectations of e-car users.

ELES and Renault cooperate in e-mobility project (picture: ELES)

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Automobile batteries to stabilise the grid

07.02.2019

Automobile battery storage systems can be employed for system stabilisation and thus substitute large power plants. This is the encouraging result of a joint research project successfully conducted by the Daimler subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Energy and TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO). The pilot was carried out in the Daimler battery test laboratory in Kamenz, a small Saxon town near Dresden, with funds from the innovation programme “Smart Energy Showcases. Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition” (“Schaufenster intelligente Energie. Digitale Agenda für die Energiewende” – SINTEG) initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The impetus for this research, as well as for other TenneT innovation projects, derives from the energy transition, which has brought about two decisive changes for the TSOs: the loss of reactive power due to the shutdown of large power plants and the volatility of renewable energy generation. Still, generation and consumption need to be balanced in the grid in order to maintain the 50Hz frequency. In this respect, vehicle-to-grid technologies are a promising approach to providing enough primary balancing power.

The prototype storage system installed in the laboratory is based on lithium-ion automobile batteries with a total connected load of approx. 1MW and a storage capacity of 750kWh. It is connected to a specifically constructed test grid. The test runs in Kamenz have shown that such battery storage systems are suitable for highly dynamic system support, since they respond to a frequency deviation in less than 100 milliseconds. They are also employable for system recovery, even for the start-up of entire power stations, e.g. after a major power failure. In this case, they can function as a kind of starter battery and restart the inert rotating masses of a power station. The project partners verified this by simulating a power failure in the test grid, which was restored afterwards with the automobile battery storage system.

TenneT and Mercedes-Benz Energy have conducted a research project on the use of automobile battery systems for grid stabilisation (illustration using a picture provided by Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH)

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TenneT performs blockchain pilots successfully

29.01.2019

The energy transition demands digital transition – the number of renewable sources is increasing, while in the future there will be less and less conventional plants available to ensure the required flexibility and stability in the grid for which the transmission system operators (TSOs) are responsible. As such, the Dutch-German TSCNET shareholder TenneT is constantly seeking new decentralised sources that can replace lost flexibility. In addition to wind and solar energy, these can include batteries, industrial plants or cogeneration. This is where digitisation comes in, because only through so-called “aggregator” and block chain technology the capacity and potential of all these sources can be combined and fully utilised.

TenneT has launched two pilot projects last year, one in the Netherlands and one in Germany, both employing blockchain technology. In the first case, e-vehicles and in the second case household batteries were used to balance the grid and avoid congestions. The blockchain application is an IBM development and the Dutch green electricity supplier Vandebron is the cooperation partner in the Netherlands. Vandebron provides battery capacity from e-car charging sessions at TenneT’s request. In this way, the TSO can draw on an additional electricity pool. In Germany, TenneT collaborates with Sonnen E-services, a company specialising in home energy storage systems. Decentralised household batteries from Sonnen are integrated into the TenneT network via a blockchain and interconnected. Through the smart use of these batteries, Sonnen contributes to facilitating power transmission in Germany.

Since both blockchain tests were successful, TenneT and IBM have signed a contract for the further development of blockchain technology. The companies will intensify the implementation so that many more parties can gain access to the electricity market. Three new partners have already been won as additional “aggregators” to ensure improved matching of electricity supply and demand. TenneT CEO Manon van Beek explains that the TSO offers not only “a new way of integrating decentralised sources”, but also “private individuals a good opportunity to participate actively in the energy transition, making the energy transition more affordable together”.

TenneT has successfully conducted two blockchain research pilot projects (picture: Sonnen GmbH)

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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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First TenneT Offshore Conference

07.11.2018

The EUREF Campus is the sustainability city quarter of the German capital Berlin with a climate-neutral energy supply and hence the ideal location for the first Offshore Conference of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, which took place on 6 November 2018. Headlined “Land in Sight – The Future of Offshore”, 170 decision-makers from politics, business and the media accepted the invitation of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) and took part in information panels, lectures and panel discussions. TenneT experts provided far-reaching insights into current pilot projects, information on ongoing studies, cooperations and concepts for future digital smart grid management.

“Offshore is a success story,” was how TenneT CEO Manon van Beek summed up the development to date. “Our conviction is that the second, decisive phase of the energy transition – the integration of 60, 70, 80% renewables and more – will only be successful if we address the issues in a bundled way.” This requires next to infrastructural improvements technical innovations, digitalisation, flexibility and the coupling of sectors.” Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, described the range of the TSO’s future-oriented approach: “From electric vehicles, blockchain storage and power-to-gas projects to the introduction of acceptability increasing underground cable technologies.” Wilfried Breuer, Managing Director TenneT Offshore, highlighted the company’s success in offshore development: “In the German North Sea, TenneT currently operates eleven offshore grid connection systems with a total capacity of 6,232MW to transmit wind energy from sea to land. This means that already now TenneT is almost completely meeting the German Federal Government’s expansion target of 6,500MW of offshore wind capacity by 2020.”

A key element of the conference was the North Sea Wind Power Hub, a visionary interconnection system that combines the generation, storage and transmission of wind energy with a multinational connection of the transmission systems of the North Sea riparian states. Also on display was an electric car already equipped with bidirectionally functioning batteries. As part of a pilot project, these batteries, which can both store electricity and feed it back into the grid, are used for redispatch. But what turned out to be the somehow “secret star” of the event was “ANYmal”, a special robot that – due to its highly developed motion characteristics – in test runs is already independently performing maintenance and repair work in TenneT’s onshore and offshore facilities.

TenneT held its first Offshore Conference in Berlin, Germany, which was attended by a prominent audience (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Watch “ANYmal” demonstration videos on Twitter (html)

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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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