Preparation of network code requirements is well underway

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Fingrid’s customer organisations are working to implement the requirements of the EU network code on electricity emergency and restoration. The 24-hour operability requirement and automatic under-frequency load shedding system must be implemented by December 2022.
Heikki Paananen, Pekka Pollari, Jari Siltala and Pekka Tynkkynen.

Customers’ awareness of the requirements of the EU network code has increased substantially over the last six months, as the actions required by the network code have been discussed by various working groups,” says Heikki Paananen, Unit Manager, Operations, at Elenia, who also chaired Fingrid’s Operations Committee until the end of 2019.

Pekka Pollari, Hydro Power Manager at UPM Energy, highlights the fact that the guidelines for the network code requirements must be as clear and detailed as possible so that everyone can take the right action at the right time.

“Customers are approaching this issue from very different perspectives. The network code calls for investments, so long-term planning is required. If changes are made in great haste, it may double the eventual investment,” Pollari says.
UPM is already able to meet the network code requirements with its current measures.

“The 24-hour operability requirement is a step in the right direction. UPM’s control centre in Tampere will coordinate the implementation of network restoration actions and the associated 24-hour requirement with Fingrid and customers,” Pollari says.

Smarter load shedding system increases flexibility

Elenia’s Heikki Paananen explains how his company has planned and advanced matters on three levels.

“We have actively followed Fingrid’s guidelines and acted accordingly. We have already ensured that our telecoms have 24-hour fault tolerance for the reserve connection, and the main connection is now being planned. At the same time, we are working on upgrading the substations within the scope of the network code so that they meet the requirements. As regards the load shedding system, we have been cooperating with Fingrid and intend to implement our plans next year,” Paananen says.

According to Jari Siltala, Fingrid’s Control Centre Manager, the new under-frequency load shedding system is better than the current solution at addressing the future challenges of decentralised power generation when under-frequency protection is moved from the main grid onto distribution networks and electricity consumption sites.

“The modernised load shedding system offers a more flexible and sensible approach to disconnecting consumption and generation. The impacts of disturbances can be minimised more effectively. The system also places more responsibility on the distribution network operators,” Siltala says.

Network code coordinates and harmonises practices

The Network Code for Emergency and Restoration (NC ER) specifies the common requirements and goals for handling emergencies, major disturbances and restorations in the power system. The network code seeks to coordinate and harmonise the operation of the power system in the event of an emergency, major disturbance or restoration between different parties throughout the EU and with third countries.

The NC ER obliges all European transmission system operators to prepare two plans: a system defence plan and a restoration plan. The significant parties and substations needed to implement these plans must also be designated.

“Fingrid is obliged to provide the Energy Authority with a list of the significant parties to whom the network code applies. We are currently developing a smart process for keeping the list up-to-date. This will ensure that in the future, we can immediately incorporate entities such as new wind farms into the system,” Siltala says.

Four obligations for operators connected to the main grid

The network code obliges the transmission system operator Fingrid to take preparatory measures, as well as the distribution network operators that Fingrid has designated as significant in terms of the system defence and restoration plan. The network code also places obligations on electricity producers and consumers.

Parties who are designated as significant to the restoration plan are required firstly to meet the 24-hour operability requirements related to critical tools and premises, including the control centre.

Secondly, they must ensure the operability of substations designated as significant.

The third duty is to ensure that the operation control system and the other systems essential for its operations continue to function, including data communication.

The fourth obligation is to arrange voice communication with Fingrid in such a way that phone calls can be prioritised in the event of an emergency or major accident.

The network code also calls for a 24-hour backup power supply for the phone call, data communication and automation systems used to restore electricity. Fingrid has worked with State Security Networks Group Finland and electricity companies to develop a high-readiness network service entity capable of maintaining the data communication links that are critical for restoring electricity for 24 hours, even if power distribution is interrupted.

The high-readiness network is based on a fixed, high-availability state security network, which is equipped with backup power for more than 24 hours and operates between control centres, connecting the transmission system operator, Fingrid, and other important parties.
The high-readiness network consists of three services: voice traffic between control centres, Krivat situational awareness and cooperation, and the FEN service, which provides a technical overview of the electricity network.

“The pilot phase is drawing to a close, and we will transition into production in February. The voice service is an entirely new service, while Krivat and FEN have been in use for some time now,” says Pekka Tynkkynen, Account Manager at State Security Networks Group Finland.

“We aim to develop high-readiness services in such a way that they provide the maximum possible benefit also when the power system is operating normally,” Tynkkynen says.

Customers who are interested in the service can make an agreement with State Security Networks Group directly.

Costs of the high-availability network cause consternation

Among customers, opinion is split on the benefits of the high-availability network.

“Technically, it is by far the best way to implement communications, but the costs need to come down. At present, it is simply too expensive,” says Pekka Pollari from UPM Energy.

At the moment, UPM’s communication connections are handled using the Virve network and satellite phones in the event of an emergency.

“We have been using Virve for a long time for communication with the emergency services. In addition, we intend to purchase more satellite phones, although their bandwidth is limited. This would be a satisfactory solution for us,” Pollari says.

However, Fingrid’s Control Centre Manager Jari Siltala points out that Virve phones are not an adequate solution because they do not meet the 24-hour operability requirement.

Elenia’s Operations Manager Heikki Paananen says that Elenia considers the high-readiness network a good solution for situational awareness and communication.

“Elenia will deploy the system, along with a backup voice connection. We think that the high-readiness network service entity should be maintained with the customers’ needs and efficiency in mind. This should improve the cost-effectiveness of the system,” Paananen says.

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