A tailor-made electricity grid for renewables is born between Puglia and Basilicata

A tailor-made electricity grid for renewables is born between Puglia and Basilicata

Experimentation of the Osmose project started in May: on the Terna grid 18 sensors maximize the integration between conventional and renewable energy sources

(Photo: Getty) of Basilicata, the first experimentation in Italy of the international Osmose project. The operational phase of the Italian program is coordinated by Terna, the company that manages the national electricity transmission grid, which in that patch of land has placed 18 sensors along seven power lines to monitor the flows of electricity and guarantee maximum flexibility to the system between renewable and traditional sources. Osmose is a consortium with 33 European partners, part of the Horizon Europe program, which was funded by Brussels with 4.6 million euros. The goal is to study innovative methods to maximize the integration of the production of renewable sources and ensure a constant flow of green energy, trying to make the distribution in the grid homogeneous.

"Osmose wants to investigate the solutions for a competitive electricity system that in the future will have to be even more sustainable and with low C0 2 emissions ", Leonardo Petrocchi, Terna's energy engineer:" The penetration of renewable resources will be increasingly predominant and will have to change the management of the system by operators such as Terna ”, He explains. Hence the need to "investigate the tools with which to act on the grid", he says, and regulate the flow of energy even when "conventional generation will be less and less and the presence of non-programmable renewables always greater".

The key concept is flexibility, the ability of an electrical system to respond to an unforeseen event by modulating generation or load (consumption). “This flexibility historically provided by conventional plants will be less and less available in the future”, explains Petrocchim because renewable sources are not programmable and depend on weather conditions. In the “demonstrator” between Puglia and Basilicata, Terna is testing three flexibility solutions suitable for the new energy mix: intrinsic flexibility of the grid, load modularity and supply of services from renewable sources. "The objective is to evaluate the technical-economic feasibility of these solutions, in order to guarantee the same level of safety for the entire system while maintaining a cost-effective service", says Petrocchi.

The need to study new solutions to guarantee the flexibility of the electricity system arises from the evolution of the energy mix which is turning faster and faster towards new renewable sources and aims at eliminating traditional ones. “Conventional sources - explains Petrocchi - are punctual and correspond to large controllable plants capable of guaranteeing grid stability, in terms of frequency and voltage, which renewable sources currently do not provide. They also have a peculiar distribution: they are very developed in the South, where there is a lot of 'raw material', such as wind and sun, while most of the consumption is in the North ".

To study the electricity system of future, a sensor technology distributed along the high voltage power lines called Dynamic thermal rating (Dtr) is used. "These sensors allow you to monitor the thermal profile of the conductor and, thanks to real-time calculation models, tell us more precisely what the actual transport capacity of a line is", explains Petrocchi.

La the choice to experiment with these innovative solutions between Puglia and Basilicata, along the Bari-Oppido Lucano power line, is dictated by the fact that in that portion of the territory there is a high influence of wind energy, which is completely non-programmable.

“Now - explains Petrocchi - there are times of day when these lines are congested and the surplus wind energy is cut because it cannot be transported. A solution that goes against the decarbonisation goal of the system ". The Dtr sensors, he adds, "allow a finer monitoring of those lines that transport energy from wind or renewable sources and make it possible to fully exploit the transport capacity of the network", also through the integration of weather forecasts to help reconstruct the temperature profile of the cable that passes more or less energy according to its temperature.

The experimentation phase of the "demonstrator", launched two years after the launch of the project and after a period of technical software implementation , will be completed between October and November of this year, with the results to be put together by February 2022. In the short term it is expected to characterize new network resources and test new services. In the medium term, the aim is to increase the stability of the electricity system thanks to the use of new flexibility resources.

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