GRI 102-1, GRI 102-2, GRI 102-6, GRI 102-7, GRI 102-9, GRI 102-12, SDG9
50Hertz operates one of the most modern electricity transmission grids in Europe in northern and eastern Germany. Thereby the supply of electricity to 18 million people is secured around the clock. Across 10 locations, 50Hertz acts as an interface between energy producers and distribution grid operators and large-scale consumers. With a team of 1,120 employees, 50Hertz ensures that electricity operates continuously. 50Hertz manages the distribution of 10,490 kilometers of lines. It coordinates the electricity market players in the grid area as well as managing and coordinating the electricity market players, manages and coordinates balancing groups and puts electricity from renewable energies that is not directly sold onto the electricity exchange. To ensure successful energy transition, 50Hertz develops innovative solutions for the system and market integration of intermittent renewable energies.
50Hertz has a so-called "natural monopoly" with the transmission grid in its grid area, i.e. in the area in the northern and eastern Germany, the company is the sole operator of the extra-high voltage grid and is therefore subject to regulatory supervision by the national regulatory authority - the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). The regulatory system has a substantial impact on the business model. The BNetzA is also responsible for the revenue cap to calculate the grid fees for 50Hertz.
We develop, build and maintain our transmission grid according to long term needs. We heavily invest in the integration of renewable energy, the development of an offshore high-voltage grid and the construction of interconnectors to facilitate the integration of the European energy market. By doing so, Elia Group drives the transition to tomorrow’s energy system.
INTERVIEW WITH DR FRANK GOLLETZ, 50HERTZ CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER
We are making progress in the European single electricity market. We are convinced that the integration of markets accelerates decarbonization and increases efficiency throughout Europe. With investments in cross-border lines such as the Combined Grid Solution and the Hansa PowerBridge, 50Hertz is using its geographical location at the centre of the European energy system to increase European supply security.
— Frank Golletz: With the Combined Grid Solution, we are interconnecting two wind farms from different countries. One wind farm in Denmark and one wind farm in Germany. We utilise the capacities of the cable connections very efficiently. If the transmission capacity of the wind farm connection is not fully utilised, we can use the interconnector for electricity trading. So we combine assets with the market. The project has been a joint project of 50Hertz and Energinet in Denmark from the beginning, where we both learn how such a combination can work. The Combined Grid Solution is advancing the energy transition in Europe by better integrating renewable energies and increasing the safety of the electrical system in Germany and Denmark.
— Frank Golletz: First
of all, there is one project that is practically a mirror image: our grid
connection project Ostwind 2. Here we are once again connecting two wind farms
with each other. Baltic Eagle by Iberdrola and Arcadis Ost by Parkwind. There
are also plans for a Modular Offshore Grid 2 (MOG 2) in Belgium and for a DC
link between Germany and Sweden, the Hansa Power Bridge. Offshore will continue
to be one of the biggest growth drivers for Elia Group in the coming years.
INTERVIEW WITH HENRICH QUICK (HEAD OF P ROJECTS OFFSHORE 50HERTZ) AND TOMPIETERCIL (PROJECT MANAGER MOG AND HEAD OF INFRAS TRUCTURE EXPERTISE)
2019 was a successful year in terms of offshore goals for both Belgium and Germany. In Belgium, the Modular Offshore Grid (MOG) was commissioned and Nemo Link became operational. In Germany, 50Hertz celebrated the inauguration of the Arkona wind farm in the Baltic Sea, which marked th the completion of the Ostwind 1 Project.
— Henrich Quick: Offshore development is becoming an important building block of reliable supply in a new energy world. It is competitive in terms of market prices, reliable in terms of the technology and in terms of grid development. We are getting used to integrating more and more renewables into our system operations. Wind Europe published a report stating that 450 GW is the offshore potential within Europe by 2050, of which 212 GW can be found in the North Sea and 83 GW in the Baltic Sea.
— Tom Pietercil: Without offshore energy, Europe will not be able to reach its ambitious climate targets. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), offshore energy is the next hot item in the energy sector. Offshore wind will be the technology that grows like mushrooms over the next 10 to 15 years. It is cheap, reliable and it provides highly efficient energy. It will become an important part of Elia Group‘s business.
— Henrich Quick: Because
the offshore business is so complex, there is a lot of solidarity among the
TSOs as we all face the same challenges. There is a group of large offshore
project managers from Norway, the UK, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy
and Spain. We all work closely together and have organised internships between
countries to share best practices. That spirit goes to both of our teams. They
often call each other for advice. This is something we really encourage.
— Tom Pietercil: The foremost reason is that it is highly if not entirely dependent on the weather. The sea is a very dangerous environment to work in. When something goes wrong, it has a huge impact on safety and costs. That‘s why a good planning and a smooth organisation are so vital. In order to ensure this, we need our people to be in the field 24/7. This means working in shifts to make sure the right expertise is available at all times.
— Henrich Quick: The sea is an expensive working environment. If you are chartering a vessel, it can go over a € 100,000 per day. If you happen to suffer from bad weather, you run the risk of having it stuck in the harbour for three weeks. The stakes are very high when making the wrong decision. So planning puts extremely high pressure on us and on our suppliers.
— Henrich Quick: Sharing experiences helps to calculate the risks better and saves millions in costs. By organising workshops and standardising procedures, we align our way of working which makes it easier for Elia and 50Hertz to work with partners in Belgium and Germany. For the next offshore wave, for example, 50Hertz will collaborate with the Belgian company Parkwind, and easily apply the best practices from the MOG project.
— Tom Pietercil: Besides sharing best practices, we are looking into collaborating on purchasing orders for materials and services we both will use for our projects. Purchasing jointly helps us to leverage our market power and to ensure we use the same quality materials within the Group. This also brings together the know-how on how to operate the installations, which is a huge advantage as well.
— Henrich Quick: Working together on purchasing orders would be especially interesting for cable manufacturing. In this market, price is not the only driver. It is also availability of the supplier. Joining forces mean we are able to win more offers. Of course, we have to take into consideration the different regulations per country and the small technical adjustments to match the requirements for the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
— Henrich Quick: Further
offshore development is needed to generate more megawatts if we want to achieve
our European 2050 goals. This also means growth opportunities for Elia Group.
What is to be seen is whether we continue to grow in our domestic markets or
whether the Baltic Sea and North Sea will be exhausted by projects in the
coming years. If that is the case, we might look to export our experience in
the field to other countries that might jump on the offshore train at a later
Operating the electricity system is an increasingly complex task due to the sharp rise in renewable generation sources, the continuous arrival of new players and technologies and the development of supranational coordination. To ensure a reliable supply and effi cient operational management of our grids, Elia Group monitors the electricity system in real time. This requires specialist knowledge as well as sophisticated tools and processes.
INTERVIEW WITH ANDREAS JOHN (HEAD OF SYSTEM OPERATIONS 50HERTZ)
50Hertz ensures system stability and provides an efficient and reliable power supply. Thanks to new technologies and processes, we are able to keep generation and consumption in balance at all times.
— Andreas John: A major challenge for us is above all to forecast the feed-in behaviour of renewable energies. If a special situation can be predicted clearly, we can take appropriate measures and coordinate with neighbouring grid operators. The particular challenge here lies in the growing number of renewable energy sources and the increase in international power flows with an increasingly volatile situation in system operation. This multitude of interactions makes it difficult to make accurate forecasts. We must therefore operate our grid today in a completely different way than in the past: We must actively and foresightedly intervene in system operation more often and make use of topological switching or transformer staging as well as redispatch measures. Redispatch measures cost money and are passed on to customers in the form of tariffs. And that is why it is very important to us to keep the volume of redispatching as low as possible and to make the management of all available measures as efficient as possible. In Germany - at a time when we are phasing out both nuclear and coal-fired power, the question of the future provision of system services is also a major issue: In particular, measures to maintain electricity supply stability are needed to ensure system security in the event of increased grid load caused by missing or outdated infrastructure.
— Andreas John: Ring flows are a well-known fact. Due to physical laws, electricity always takes the path of least resistance. In Germany, we have the unfortunate situation that a considerable part of the energy from the north of Germany flows to the south via the neighbouring countries of Poland and the Czech Republic as well as the Netherlands and Belgium. In some cases, this involves considerable quantities. We must therefore expand the grids in line with demand or use more active grid components to control electricity flows in order to reduce unplanned ring flows and keep an eye on the requirements of society, the new generation pattern and the energy market.
— Andreas John: Our joint study on securing the future of the European energy system until 2030 identified a second lever in addition to adequate grid infrastructure. In future, network operators should not have to make a decision in advance about the direction in which we believe the market will develop. If we make market coupling more flexible and take better account of certain flexibilities when allocating trading capacities, we can achieve more efficient market results and need to take corrective action less frequently.
50Hertz makes its infrastructure available to all market players in a transparent, non-discriminatory way. Digitalisation and the latest technologies offer market players new opportunities to optimise their electricity management by selling their surplus energy or temporarily reducing consumption. We develop services and mechanisms allowing the market to trade on different platforms, which promotes economic competitiveness and the wellbeing of society.
We develop markets, promote sector coupling and integrate new technologies. We drive innovation to enable the integration of renewable generation and flexible consumption. In all this, our goal is to enable a safe, efficient and sustainable energy transition.
— Dirk Biermann: Digitization will certainly provide us with strong support in all areas of system operation. The generation of renewable energy is geographically very widely scattered and highly dependent on the availability of wind and sun. Our complex infrastructure projects lag behind the rapid development of renewable energies. We therefore need to increase the capacity utilization of our existing grid - and we urgently need new tools to achieve this. Big Data and artificial intelligence can help us do this. It begins by providing us with a complete picture of the system using complex analyses in real time. We also need digital tools that provide forecasts and help us make decisions. Once action is taken, automation comes into Play.
— Dirk Biermann: Digital metering technology (smart meters) enables a real-time view of consumption and generation even in a very decentralized world. Consumers have access to a wide range of desired services that allow them to adapt their consumption to the needs of the system. Prices reflect the current market situation and households can adjust their consumption of heat pumps or electric vehicles accordingly. To promote this development, Elia Group has launched the IO.Energy (Internet of Energy) initiative. This is an ecosystem where several use cases will be developed and tested together with the distribution network operators.
— Dirk Biermann: There is a close link between market development and system operation. This became clear last summer in Germany when we had major imbalances in our grid. These were not caused by technical problems, but were a consequence of the market design at that time. The prices for balancing power did not provide the right incentives for market participants to avoid negative effects on system security. The Bundesnetzagentur has since taken countermeasures in this respect. But the incident has shown that it is essential to take into account the interaction between the market and the electrical system. We follow the principle of leaving as much as possible to the market and intervening as little as possible in the market on the system side.
— Dirk Biermann: If we want to successfully implement the next phase of the energy transition, we must fine-tune the hardware (the infrastructure) and software (the market design) of the European interconnected system. For example, we are observing considerable discrepancies between the physical load flows in the network and the commercial transactions in the market. Therefore, we want to optimize the market design so that there is a better match between the physical load flows and the commercial flows. Our study also clearly showed that timely completion of the planned new network infrastructure is essential. Our simulations have shown that delays in the expansion of new infrastructure cause significant welfare losses. Furthermore, the lack of grid expansion leads to an increase in the renewable energy compensation. We are therefore doing everything in our power to accelerate the expansion of the grid in close cooperation with the responsible authorities.
— Dirk Biermann: At European level, we are currently implementing cross-border intraday market integration. Why is this necessary? Well, the Western European countries are already integrating renewable energies on a large scale to drive the energy transition. However, the increasing volatility of renewables requires more short-term trading and more short-term correction of system imbalances. We have achieved great success with shorter procurement times for balancing power and quarter-hourly trading. However, I believe that there is still potential for even better coordination to deal more efficiently with volatility and cross-border electricity trading. This will take us a good step further along the road to a truly integrated European internal electricity market.
— Dirk Biermann: An important topic in sector coupling is electromobility. It brings a multitude of new challenges for the system and the electricity market. Simultaneous charging processes of many electric cars can cause high load peaks, which have to be predicted at the different grid levels and possibly adapted to the limited grid capacities. At the same time, however, the new energy storage systems and flexibility in the system also offer new options. Based on concrete use cases, we are investigating which software and which mechanisms need to be developed to integrate e-mobility. As things are today, market processes are not designed for such a large number of electric vehicles and their intelligent use. There is plenty of room for improvement. For example, we could imagine charging systems in private households that are linked to a photovoltaic system on the roof and to an intelligent energy management system. And as an internationally positioned group, we are of course also looking at cross-border charging and billing processes. We should make electromobility a problem solver and not regard it as another disturbance variable.
The German legislator has transferred the responsibility for coordinating and processing legal levy systems to promote environmentally friendly technologies to the transmission system operators. 50Hertz collects these levies as a trustee, administrates these and coordinates their distribution to the recipients. If the electricity from renewables is not marketed directly, we sell this electricity on the power exchange.
GRI 102-3, GRI 102-4
GRI 102-12, GRI 102-13, SDG17
50Hertz is proud to be involved in various societies, associations, and initiatives. Of course, specifically directing their attention to the fields of renewable energies, climate and environmental protection, human rights and the harmonisation of the European electricity market. For example: