Our responsibility extends beyond Germany’s borders: we connect Europe by expanding our transmission grid to neighbouring countries. We help to operate Europe’s interconnected grid safely and efficiently. And we are working with partners to further develop Europe’s internal electricity market.

Amprion is particularly committed to making the transmission of electricity around Europe efficient. The staff at the System Operation and Control Centre in Brauweiler coordinate the electricity flows between the national grids in the northern section of Europe’s extra-high-voltage grid.

The power supply industry in Europe has changed massively over the past 25 years. Step by step, the national electricity grids are developing into a close-meshed interconnected grid that transports electricity generated in power plants and traded on exchanges across Europe. To this end, Amprion makes its own transmission grid available as a physical platform. In order to be in a position to coordinate this exchange of energy effectively, Amprion has an indirect stake in the European Power Exchange EPEX SPOT in Paris and also in the “Joint Allocation Office” in Luxembourg, an auction platform that offers long-term transmission capacities for trading. In addition, the company ensures that this combined system of electricity trading and interconnected grids functions efficiently. The staff members at Amprion’s System Operation and Control Centre in Brauweiler handle this and coordinate the electricity flows between national grids in the northern section of Europe’s extra-high-voltage grid. This “northern block” stretches from the Netherlands in the north-west to Romania in the south-east of Europe.

Europe’s power supply industry is facing major challenges: more and more electricity is coming from renewable energy sources whose feed-in varies greatly depending on the time of day and the weather. In addition, the volumes of electricity being traded on the exchanges and exchanged across national borders are rising. This makes system operation and control an increasingly demanding task. “As staunch Europeans, we want to make the interconnected grid even more capable and efficient and further develop Europe’s internal electricity market,” says Joachim Vanzetta, System Operation and Control Manager at Amprion. This is being done, for example, under the umbrella of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity or the international symposium on the development of extra-high-voltage grids in Paris.

Amprion’s task is and remains to operate its own grid safely and stably. To achieve this, we have to keep a close eye on the grids of our European neighbours, too. The corresponding “monitoring area” includes, among others, the Benelux countries, parts of the French grid, Switzerland and northern Italy. Amprion’s system operation and control staff identify critical grid situations early on and can react to impending bottlenecks by coordinating with colleagues across borders. This is facilitated by international partnerships. The Munich-based “TSO Security Cooperation”, founded and operated by 12 European grid operators, provides cross-border analysis of grid situations and calculates transmission capacities available for trading – to make sure electricity is always delivered to where it’s needed, right across Europe.

Interconnectors

Amprion connects electricity markets across borders


Europe is seeing convergence in the energy sector, too. Amprion is building cross-border lines, known as “interconnectors”, to connect our power grid more closely with those of our European neighbours. A new power bridge linking Wesel and Doetinchem in the Netherlands went into operation in 2018. Interconnectors such as this one are intended to make the grids safer and electricity cheaper across Europe as a whole. If, for instance, a power plant in Germany has to be disconnected from the grid unscheduled, others power utilities in Europe can supply the necessary electricity via interconnectors. What’s more, this internationally available power can be transported right across Europe via the cross-border connections.

Entso-E

Amprion continues to develop Europe’s power grid


As a member of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), Amprion is working to make Europe’s interconnected grid more capable and efficient. ENTSO-E represents 42 transmission system operators (TSOs) from 34 countries. These embrace five synchronous areas that are interconnected by a direct current (DC) grid. The largest of these is the synchronous grid of continental Europe, also known as the Continental Synchronous Area (formerly the UCTE grid), which includes Amprion’s grid. Its members define rules that regulate grid operation and the electricity market, set safety standards and regularly publish ten-year plans for grid development. The latter reveal which new power links will be needed across Europe in the future.


Text: Volker Göttsche