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Czech TSO commissions final phase shifters on German border


Positive operational experience since start of year

Unscheduled flows issues not fully resolved by PSTs

Czech power grid operator CEPS has officially launched the final two of four phase shifting transformers (PSTs) to regulate disruptive electricity flows on the Czech-German border, it said in a statement.

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Two phase shifters were already installed on the first of two 440 KV power lines between the Czech Republic and Germany in January with the second pair operating in the final testing phase since June with the TSO generally drawing a positive experience from operations so far.

"The launch of the transformers, however, does not mean that the issue of unscheduled flows is completely resolved," CEPS said in the statement, adding that since its partial launch in mid-January for the first half of this year alone, these machines have helped reduce the flows through its transmission system on 73 days.

According to the TSO, the PSTs can reduce flows in 32 steps up to a maximum of 900 MW with June 6 having the highest amount of reduction so far due to a critical grid operating situation with a lack of power in the Balkans, increasing the system deficit in the Czech Republic, while there were large overflows across the continent from northwest to southeast.

Earlier, a reversed regulation was applied at the request of German TSO 50Hertz when the German system struggled with a critical operating situation.

"CEPS is not preventing electricity flowing through our transmission system. It aims to transfer the maximum amount of electricity, but safely, without compromising the reliability of the power supply in the Czech Republic," it said.

"The Czech Republic has long been drawing attention to the problem of unscheduled flows of electricity both in bilateral discussions with representatives of the German government, and at the EU level," Jiri Havlicek, Czech minister for industry and trade, said during the official launch Friday.

"Without the PSTs, international redispatches would be massive and costly," CEPS chariman Jan Kalina said, adding that the investment cost for the project totaled Czech Koruna 1.588 billion (Eur61 million/$72 million).

The main aim of the phase shifters is to prevent disruptive surges of electricity from Germany, mainly caused by wind power production in the north directed to some of the main sources of domestic demand in the south.

The Czech Republic has been threatened in the past with blackouts because of such disruptive surges. Phase shifters are already operating on the Polish side of the joint Polish-German border to deal with similar problems.

Germany itself faces internal grid bottlenecks which have triggered the price zone split between Germany and Austria due to so-called 'loop flows', where electricity was flowing through power grids of Poland and the Czech Republic back into Austrian and Bavaria.

Germany's grid expansion has been lagging behind the boom in wind power with the pending nuclear exit expected to increase regional North-South imbalances before new major grid links come online.

But Germany has opened the 380 kV Suedwest power line, linking the Eastern state of Thuringia with the Southern state of Bavaria, improving transmission capacity by around 5,000 MW which, together with the phase shifters on the Polish and Czech borders, has helped reduce unscheduled flows especially during surges in wind power production inside Germany.

--Andreas Franke,
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell,