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Network planning trusts in the power of scenarios

Network planning requires national and international cooperation. A vital tool for this is Europe’s ten-year network development plan (TYNDP), which is drafted every two years by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E).

Maarit Uusitalo, Planning Manager at Fingrid, says that the most recent TYNDP report contains a large amount of information, and the scenarios for 2030 and 2040 are the most important. The report describes the scenarios in figures (generation/consumption) and presents an analysis of the system’s requirements on a European scale.

“Regional analyses and reports are also included, as well as reviews on various themes, such as methodologies and technologies. The report also describes forthcoming projects, along with cost–benefit analyses,” Uusitalo says.

What does the future hold? For example, the overarching themes of the scenario for 2030 are distributed generation and the transition to a more sustainable energy economy. The European Commission’s own scenario was also scrutinised.

“This EUCO scenario differs somewhat from Fingrid’s outlook. We envisage coal-fired power stations disappearing from the picture due to market pressures by 2030, but the EUCO scenario still includes coal power.”

A comprehensive volume of up-to-date information

The scenarios are based on a large amount of work, as consultations took place with various organisations and stakeholders in the sector as well as the experts at European transmission system operators in order to build up an overall picture. However, the TYNDP reports, which have been published since 2012, have solidified their position as the projection of future trends.

“Key projects can be planned and implemented more strategically when there is a longer timeline,” Uusitalo says.

So how effective is the TYNDP crystal ball? There are only seven years of experience to draw on, but Uusitalo has some ideas:

“About two-thirds of projects are proceeding as planned. The rest have had to alter their timetables for one reason or another. Projects may be delayed by factors such as permit processes or economic difficulties.”

“As regards the Nordic countries, the projects that were planned have got off to a good start.”

The northern dimension         

Nordic transmission system operators are also engaged in collaboration. One example of this is the Nordic Nordic Grid Development Plan, which was published in autumn 2019 and drew data from the European plan as well as national plans.

“Nordic transmission system operators will execute investment projects worth about EUR 15 billion by 2028. The benefits of cross-border corridors, which were analysed in bilateral reports, are expected to increase towards 2040, as the system is continuously trending towards more carbon-free generation,” assesses Uusitalo.

What else lies in store for the network world in the next 20 years?

“In fact, the main themes for 2030 – distributed generation and the transition to a more sustainable energy system – will still be involved, but global climate action will also join the list.”

“It is a long time until 2040, but climate change is precisely the kind of topic that necessitates advance planning.”

Scenarios offer risk management

Robert Schroeder, Managing Director, System development of ENTSO-E, says that nobody can know the future for sure, but every responsible operator in the sector uses scenarios.

“The scenarios used in ENTSO-E’s plans attempt to place uncertainty factors within their own frameworks as well as possible. The scenarios include a lot of information that can also be used outside the energy sector,” Schroeder says.

According to him, TYNDP is a very useful tool, which is being developed further.

“Despite this, we need to be better at communicating the numerous useful observations included in the report.”

On a common front   

ENTSO-E is now celebrating its 10th year in operation. The organisation now has 43 members in 36 countries. According to Schroeder, ENTSO-E is a democratic organisation that gets things done by working closely together.

“There are more things that combine us than separate us,” he says.

The global energy revolution is perhaps ENTSO-E’s first priority. A new, more sustainable energy system can only work if there are intelligent, innovative solutions and functional markets. Schroeder notes that transmission system operators must show a smart, responsible pathway to the future in order to make the most of renewable forms of energy.

Fingrid’s network vision for 2040 supplements the European plan

Plans for Finland’s transmission network are guided by Fingrid’s network vision, which currently extends until 2040. The network vision is an outlook for the development required by the network over the long term, and it includes plans that will follow the current projects.

Fingrid’s Planning Manager, Antti Harjula, says that the network vision for 2040 was prepared in 2017, and follow-up inspections deviating from the vision were conducted in 2018.

“The network vision for 2040 examines several very different scenarios for trends in electricity generation and consumption. The scenarios include various forecasts of factors such as distributed generation, the prices of CO2 emissions and the number of electric cars,” says Harjula.

The network vision is currently dominated by the transition from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy, which are constantly becoming more competitive. In the future, the system must be able to respond to transmission requirements and changes in generation and consumption.

Harjula says that the future outlooks indicate the need for a few clear network reinforcements:

“Duplicating the 400-kilovolt connection on the Lake Line, a second circuit on the 400-kilovolt link between Huittinen and Forssa, a 400-kilovolt line between Petäjävesi and Hikiä, and 400-kilovolt shunt compensation requirements are the new projects entered into the investment plan from the network vision,” says Harjula.

“In comparison with the previous vision, the impact of increases in wind power on electricity transmission from the north to the south came strongly to the fore in the most recent vision,” he says.

The network vision for 2040 outlines the future in the same way as the TYNDP, but there are some differences. For example, the only Finnish projects included in the TYNDP are those that will have a significant impact on the border transmission capacity or the utilisation of capacity in the next ten years or so,” Harjula notes.

“The outcomes of the network vision include these projects as well as the 400-kilovolt projects inside the country. The network vision examines Finland’s requirements in various future scenarios, and the TYNDP examines Europe’s requirements. Information obtained from the TYNDP is naturally utilised when the network vision is prepared, particularly the information concerning the rest of Europe,” says Harjula.


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