24.11.2011 16:15
Current News, Power System

Power margins this winter

Reduced margins (available generation over load) in Europe this winter, in particular under severe weather conditions and accounting for the limited interconnection capacities between countries, have placed European TSOs on alert for this winter. ENTSO-E’s President Daniel Dobbeni notes that for this winter reserves to deal with severe situations are lower than in the past; due to the reduction of the available German power generation in the aftermath of the serious nuclear situation in Japan.
He points out that; ‘under normal winter conditions, the balance between demand and supply is not considered at risk with cross border transfer capacities sufficient to provide imports whenever needed’.  ‘It is when the winter conditions become extreme and widespread that there is a significant risk to security of supply in some major European areas’ he says.
ENTSO-E published today its Winter Outlook 2011-2012 and Summer Review 2011; the analysis indicates that under severe conditions, December and January could be the most stressed months of the winter for security of supply.  As cross border interconnector flows’ peak in order to maintain system security, France could require a significant level of imports from neighbouring countries including Germany. However, Germany and France could also be unable to assist each other if extreme conditions occur in both countries at the same time.
Following the reduction in German generation, ENTSO-E expanded its existing winter outlook method and, working with the German and their neighbouring TSOs, added network and power flow analyses to the standard adequacy analysis. These analyses show a significant increase in the operational risk on a national and regional level in some major areas of Continental Europe. Security calculations for Germany show a significant decrease in the margin between generation and load, resulting in a highly loaded grid as well as regional voltage levels lower than usual.
Dobbeni notes that ‘Since this spring, ENTSO-E and its members have been actively looking ahead to managing this winter. Countermeasures, the actions TSOs and consumers can take if the winter conditions become extreme’ have been studied in detail. In order to maintain system security this winter, TSOs will be prepared to activate, as needed, grid and market related remedies in a coordinated manner, including as a last resort controlled curtailment of power supply. Regarding the situation in Germany he notes close support from adjacent TSOs (such as Austria, Switzerland, and Italy) is under detailed bilateral discussion.
Beyond this winter, to accommodate the major changes in generation observed all over Europe, grid reinforcement is urgently required.  Dobbeni notes the proposed Energy Infrastructure legislative package will be key to speeding up the approval process for infrastructure.
Notes for Authors
Every year in spring and autumn ENTSO-E publishes reviews and forecasts for summer and winter adequacy margins for power in Europe.  This requirement is set out in Regulation (EU) 714/2009.  The ENTSO-E report in spring 2012 will assess the winter period and forecast summer power margins.
ENTSO-E is the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity. It represents 41 TSOs from 34 countries, with important new roles in the Third EU Energy Legislative Package including the preparation of EU wide electricity codes and ten-year network development plans.
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