Activity 1: Asset Management

The European electricity system needs a more integrated and powerful than today’s network to provide a sound basis for the energy transition. This means that grid maintenance and grid investment levels have to be enhanced respectively increased considerably.

In order to foster the development of the internal electricity market with competitive and efficient prices, the European Union needs sufficient interconnections between member states, allowing producers to offer their electricity also across borders.

As a consequence of the growing share of renewables, the average distance between generation and consumption is growing - both in space and in time. Besides the reinforcement of the distribution grids, an adequate transmission capacity is therefore also imperative for integrating the new energy sources and transporting them to the consumers. The Elia Group responds to these needs through optimizing the usage of the existing grids, reinforcing existing lines and ultimately building new lines and substations.

Optimization of grid usage

As Transmission System Operators (TSOs) in the heart of Europe, Elia and 50Hertz develop their grids to provide a sound basis for the energy transition in Belgium, Germany and Europe. High voltages are needed to bridge long distances and minimise transport losses.

Grids are used in a more volatile way and closer to their technical limits. Elia and 50Hertz have therefore enhanced their grid maintenance strategies to allow the best possible usage of the assets while considering those constraints. Maintenance activities have become more dynamic and are conceived in a more holistic way to minimize bottlenecks and risks in the system.

Through temperature monitoring, power lines can temporarily transport more electricity without infringing their technical limits (especially the sag of the line) during cold days. The Elia Group is a frontrunner in using temperature monitoring to optimize the usage of the existing lines.

High temperature wires can transport more power over a 380 kV line. Elia and 50Hertz systematically explore which existing lines should be upgraded with high-temperature wires to meet the needs of the future grid usage.

Reinforcement and development of the grid

Since the power lines are more and more operated at their limits and congestion is on the rise, grid usage optimization is not always sufficient to master the transport needs of the future.

The Elia Group’s investments in grid reinforcement and development are mainly driven by the growing share of renewable energy generation, including offshore wind in both the North (Belgium) and Baltic (Germany) Sea.

The new production areas of fast developing renewables trigger an increasingly decentralized evolution. However, at the same time, the need to transport huge amounts of electricity over larger distances with a network of new wide-area power highways increases as well.

Within the Elia Group, a number of substation and line projects - currently being implemented in Belgium and Germany - begin to form the nucleus of a new pan-European electricity grid:

North-South DC links are planned in Germany and between Germany and Belgium (Project ALEGrO), strong backbones linking new production centres to consumption areas (Project Stevin and the Thuringhian Power Bridge), new cross-border connectors with the UK (Project Nemo), Denmark (Project Combined Grid Solution) or Sweden (Project Hansa Power Bridge) are currently being implemented.

These projects may look like classical grid projects of purely national interest, but they are at the same time the elements of a wider architecture that will serve the needs of European society as a whole.

Interconnections

In order to increase the diversity and security of energy supply, the system operators of the Elia Group are linked to other countries’ transmission systems. By further developing the interconnections, Elia and 50Hertz facilitate the competition in the European Electricity Market and help the transition to a low carbon society by integrating growing amounts of electricity from renewable energy sources.

In Belgium, Elia is linked by jointly owned and operated interconnectors with France and The Netherlands. Other interconnector projects with Great Britain (Nemo-project) and Germany (ALEGrO) are under development.

From its central position in Northern and East Central Europe, 50Hertz links the networks of Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic to Germany. Additional projects with Denmark (Combined Grid Solution) and Sweden (Hansa Power Bridge) are under development.  

Developing innovative grid solutions

The integration of the European Electricity Market and the growing share of electricity from renewable energy sources have a great impact on the entire electricity systems and entail many challenges. Meeting these challenges requires new approaches and new grid solutions in Asset Management.

The companies of the Elia Group are innovators and work closely together with partners in a number of innovative asset projects such as: