European citizens and businesses could rely on a secure supply of electricity this morning. The fast variations in solar generation and difficult to anticipate impact on demand were successfully managed by Transmission System Operators (TSO) thanks to meticulous preparation, and strong regional and European cooperation.
The high voltage European network which needs to be balanced every single second had to cover the rapid loss (and rapid reintegration) of some 35,000 megawatts of solar energy, equal to 80 conventional power plant units, during the solar eclipse between 9.00 and 12.00, Brussels time.
“Europeans are used to just push a button to switch the light on. They tend to forget all the highly technical and complex systems and tasks needed to maintain a constant balance between generation and demand on an interconnected Power System” says Pierre Bornard, Deputy CEO of the French TSO RTE and Chairman of the Board of the European Network for Transmission System Operators, ENTSO-E.
He insisted on the ‘very important role’ played by the TSOs’ Regional Security Coordination Initiatives in the successful management of the eclipse. RSCIs, such as Coreso and TSC, were set up by European TSOs, deciding for coordinated answers to more variable power sources as well as more European energy market integration. In the case of the eclipse, the planning information on cross border electricity flows provided by RSCIs complemented the TSOs’ real time operation and allowed for a better coordination of actions.
“Our management of the challenging solar eclipse is an illustration that the TSOs’ regional and bottom-up approach to an efficient coordination is the right way to go”, says Pierre Bornard.
TSOs had decided to double their staff in control rooms for the event. They also had planned, as part of the extra preparatory work they carried out through ENTSO-E, that their control rooms would be in continuous communication throughout the morning to increase coordination and reduce reaction times.
“The solar eclipse is an example for the success of European and regional cooperation organised by ENTSO-E“, says Konstantin Staschus, Secretary-General of ENTSO-E. “Many other aspects of European electricity market integration are solved in the network codes delivered by ENTSO-E to regulators and the European Commission. It is urgent, that we see a swift adoption of the network codes and their implementation to further strengthen the European electricity system and market integration”, continues Konstantin Staschus.
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