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Think of the world of energy as a fascinating puzzle in which the power grid and power supply chain perform a complex dance, navigating through different voltage levels – ultra-high, high, medium and low voltage, each playing a unique role. Think of these voltage levels as the different gears that control the flow of electricity, much like water pressure in a utility system.

Unlike everyday items that can be neatly tucked away, storing electricity efficiently and cost-effectively is a major challenge. This challenge keeps the power system on its toes, constantly adapting to meet the changing demand for electricity in real time. Think of grid operators as the conductors of this energy orchestra, working hard to ensure a stable and consistent supply of electricity to meet our growing needs. Any error in this delicate balance can lead to power outages, causing problems for individuals and businesses alike.

As our global population grows and everyone’s demand for electricity increases even faster, a new challenge arises. Imagine having to maintain the right voltage and frequency, as if to ensure that the rhythm of the energy dance is just right. This is becoming a critical task for electricity suppliers to ensure a reliable power supply for our increasingly electricity-dependent world.

In the past, large generators with synchronous generators were the stars, but now comes a new development: the rise of renewable energy sources (RES). These sources, such as wind turbines and solar cells, bring a breath of fresh air, but also pose a challenge: a reduction in grid stability due to reduced inertia. Think of voltage and frequency as dance partners, closely linked and essential for maintaining grid stability.

Now let’s move on to the heroes behind the scenes, the so-called ancillary services (AS). These services ensure that the power supply remains within acceptable limits. There are three types of AS: frequency AS, which balance the dance of supply and demand; congestion management services, which handle congestion on the electricity highway; and non-frequency AS, which handle voltage regulation and grid restoration.

And this is where it gets interesting! Imagine small power plants, known as distributed generators (DG), joining the energy party. These generators, often linked to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, offer reliability, peak shaving and cost-effective alternatives to grid expansion.

The global transition to renewable energy is underway, with the share of renewable energy expected to be up to 88% by 2050. The growing share of renewable energies in the electricity supply also poses challenges for stability. This is where Distributed Renewable Energy Sources (DRES) come into play, offering competition with efficient management and accommodating the trend towards greener energy sources.

Now let’s move on to the heroes behind the scenes – Ancillary Services (AS). These are the essential services that ensure the smooth operation of the electricity supply within acceptable limits. You can think of them as watchdogs, provided either by third parties or by the grid operators themselves, e.g. the transmission system operators (TSOs) and the distribution system operators (DSOs).

For our European friends represented by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSOE), AS are classified under three “headings” (as described in the previous article “What is…AS Part II”):

Frequency AS: Think of these services as choreographers that balance supply and demand to prevent deviations in the dance of frequencies.
Congestion management services: These services are the traffic directors in the power grid, managing congestion to keep energy flowing smoothly.
Non-frequency AS: This category includes the voltage regulation experts, power factor correction and grid restoration heroes that enable the restoration of parts of the grid after a blackout.

We hope that we have been able to give you a better understanding of how the ancillary services market works.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Evyatar Littwitz.

Your Es-geht! team