20.11.2018

USING instead of CURTAILING – WindNODE flexibility platform launches trial operation

  • Digital procurement platform to reduce wind turbine curtailments associated with grid bottlenecks
  • Regional producers, consumers and storage operators offer grid operators flexible, grid-friendly use of their facilities
  • Flexibility platform reduces grid fees and helps to reduce CO2 emissions
  • Close cooperation among transmission and distribution system operators on the platform


Berlin - The expansion of renewable energies and the associated rapid growth in fluctuating volumes of power during generation poses significant challenges for energy transition stakeholders. One of these challenges lies the safe operation and optimal usage of electricity grids while making the most of the renewable energy often generated on a weather-dependent basis – instead of curtailing the power plants. In the East German states of Berlin and Hamburg, 641 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity generation systems were curtailed in 2017 alone for safety reasons; with this amount of energy, the city of Berlin could have been supplied with electricity for two weeks, or the electricity required by the Berlin underground could have been covered for approximately two years. More than 70 partners from all over eastern Germany have been collaborating on the "WindNODE – The Showcase for Intelligent Energy from North-east Germany" project funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy for more than two years now.

A key component of WindNODE – the flexibility platform – will be launched today after almost two years of development work during its trial operation. It should benefit grid operators, producers, distributors, consumers and storage providers alike. For example, providers will be compensated by the grid operator for previously unused flexibility in electricity consumption or generation. The electricity customer will, in turn, benefit because the overall compensation received by the provider will be more favourable than the compensation currently accrued for the curtailment of renewable energy facilities that has to be paid by the grid operator. This has the effect of reducing grid fees, which benefits consumers. In addition, more electricity will be used from renewable sources as a whole, thus contributing to CO2 abatement.

The new platform provides a digital solution for significantly increasing the efficiency of network stabilisation measures (bottleneck management) in the networks of participating network companies 50Hertz, Stromnetz Berlin, Wemag, ENSO and e.dis. It also promotes coordinated cooperation among grid operators, which is critical for a secure power supply.

WindNODE Flexibility Platform – an important control element for network companies
Platform registration is open to suppliers of flexible power generation or current collection. Once they are pre-qualified, they can submit offers with a specific regi-onal reference. They can make both day-ahead offers (for the following day) and intra-day offers (for the same day). The grid operators can accept the most cost-effective, regionally appropriate bids if they create the "timetables" (i.e. feed-in plans for power generators and schedules of demand on the part of users) for their grid area, with any resulting bottlenecks becoming visible in the electricity grid. Distribution system operators and the transmission system operators are in agreement about this. It should be possible to manage dynamics in the load distribution of renewable production volumes, particularly weather-dependent volatile volumes, and to optimise their integration into the system.

Example: The north-south lines in the transmission grid frequently become over-loaded due to very good wind conditions in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg; as a result, not all the available green electricity can be transported and individual wind turbines have to be curtailed. Because of this, compensation must be paid to the relevant wind turbine operators, and these costs ultimately have to be borne by all electricity customers in the form of grid fees. The aim of the flexibility platform is to influence electricity consumption at appropriate network nodes by switching flexible loads (e.g. industrial generation facilities or cooling systems in warehouses) on or off in a manner that prevents network bottlenecks and thus wind turbine curtailments and achieves maximum usage of green electricity.

Dr. Dirk Biermann, Managing Director of Markets and System Operations at 50Hertz, underlines the need for this from the perspective of the transmission system operator: "The German government has formulated a very ambitious goal with its coalition agreement to increase the proportion of renewable energies in electricity consumption to 65 percent by 2030. It will not work without additional network expansion and even more efficient use of the existing network. In summary, The target of 65 percent by 2030 cannot be achieved without grid expansion. Even grid expansion alone is not enough. Added to this is the entry into Power-to-X applications and the systematic use of flexibilities. This is why the WindNODE platform has come along at the right time. It can help to make it worthwhile to use 'surplus electricity' generated from renewable resources instead of curtailing it. Close cooperation among transmission and distribution system operators is important in this context, and it is something that is guaranteed in our region."

For Stromnetz Berlin Managing Director Thomas Schäfer – as a representative of the distribution system operators – the new platform is a key milestone in the energy transition: "There is great potential for renewable generation and flexible loads in our region. Facilitating their integration into the changing electrical system requires technical solutions such as smart grid technologies as well as the market-based use of regional flexibilities. The flexibility platform implements this and thus supports distribution system operators in ensuring the security of supply for our network customers."

Advantages for many market participants and stakeholders
Representatives of Siemens Germany, energy2market and the Schwarz Group explain how the flexibility platform is suitable for a wide range of usage strategies and types of facilities, and how this results in synergies and advantages for various participants in the market.

For example, Siemens creates the conditions for flexible load management in the industrial sector and thus contributes to the establishment of a regional flexibility market. The power requirement for thermal, mechanical and electrochemical generation and related processes at four Siemens plants in Berlin was analysed in detail for flexible loads, which could be forecast in the future and made available via a flexibility platform. Ten processes, each with an output of approximately 50 kilowatts to approximately 4 megawatts, are currently under consideration for fle-xibility. A Mindsphere-based application that calculates a production plan optimised according to overall costs and provides decision-making assistance for the optimal use of flexible loads will be developed based on the analyses. The analyses include the Siemens Gas Turbine, Switchgear, Dynamo and Instrumentation plants in Berlin.

Energy2market (e2m), a direct marketer of renewable energy and operator of its own virtual power plant (VPP), is predestined to get on board with a project such as WindNODE. First, e2m integrates model facilities into its VPP and provides generation data to develop and test functionality and the regional ability to trade on the flexibility platform. Second, the aggregator's many years of experience in flexibility marketing is a driving factor when it comes to integrating a solution such as this into existing electricity markets. Specific regional and direct marketing of flexibility can be an interesting marketing supplement for producers of renewable energy, particularly for a large supplier with such a broad portfolio as that of e2m.

The Schwarz Group is also participating in the project with its retail segments Lidl and Kaufland. The trading company provides renewable energy storage capacity for grid stability on the flexibility platform through its subsidiaries and logistics centres. Therefore, with energy available from the wind and sun, freezer cabinets can be cooled more effectively, or industrial lorries can be charged overnight. With more than 3,800 branches and Lidl and Kaufland shops in Germany and ap-proximately 50 logistics locations, success from the project can be quickly scaled.

About WindNODE:
WindNODE is a part of the "Smart Energy Showcase – Digital Agenda for Energy Reforms" (or SINTEG) funding programme from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. It spans the six former East German states including Berlin, operating under the umbrella supervision of the regional heads of government of the participating federal states. In WindNODE, over 70 partners are working together for four years, from 2017 to 2020, on transferable model solutions for the smart energy system of the future. WindNODE shows a network of flexible energy users who can adjust their electricity consumption according to the fluctuating supply from wind and solar power plants. The goal is to integrate large quantities of renewable electricity into the energy system while keeping electricity grids stable. Transmission system operator 50Hertz is the coordinator of WindNODE and, in addition to Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie, Energy Saxony, Fraunhofer FOKUS, SIEMENS, Stromnetz Berlin and Wirtschaftsförderung Brandenburg (WFBB), is a member of the steering committee of the joint project.

For more information, visit www.windnode.de.

About SINTEG:
Through the funding programme "Smart Energy Showcase – Digital Agenda for Energy Reforms" (SINTEG), the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) wants to show what the future of energy supply could look like. The idea behind SINTEG is to develop and showcase transferable model solutions for a secure, economical and sustainable energy supply where there is fluctuating electricity generation from renewable energies. Suitable solutions from the model regions are intended to serve as examples for broad implementation throughout Germany and beyond. Partners from the energy industry and the information and communications sector cooperate in the five showcase regions. Since 2017, more than 300 companies, research institutes, municipalities, districts and federal states have been working together on implementing the future vision of the energy transition.

For more Information, visit www.sinteg.de.