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In this article, we want to introduce you to what black launch is and why it is increasingly critical for our power grid with a renewable feed-in. What is a black launch, where does it occur and what are the underlying dynamics? You’ll find answers in this post. We look forward to your feedback!

The current situation in the electricity grid

Black launch capability in distribution networks will become increasingly important in the future. Unlike in the past, when energy was transported exclusively from the higher-level network operators to the distribution network, the flow of energy is becoming increasingly bidirectional. This means that at the transfer stations between the distribution grid and the transmission grid, energy flows not only “down” but also “up”. Thus, the distribution grid feeds in. How this comes about is obvious: through the increased installation of decentralized plants, such as PV systems, wind turbines or storage systems, a distribution grid is able to produce energy itself and feed it into the overlying grid.

But feeding this energy into the transmission grid should not be the main goal. It is much more interesting and effective if the energy is consumed directly where it is produced: Directly in the distribution grid. This makes one less dependent on the transmission grid. The “big plug from above” is no longer necessary…. This statement does not yet apply completely, and especially not to all distribution networks. But there are already distribution grids today that are able to decouple themselves from the superimposed grid under favorable conditions.

What is black launch?

One of the worst events in the electrical grid is a blackout. This means that in the entire grid, or in large areas of the transmission network, no more energy flows. Imagine that all of Germany is “blacked out.” There are many possibilities as to how this could have happened. But now one can ask the question: If distribution grids are so independent of the transmission grid, then surely they can simply supply themselves with power if the transmission grid fails for a time. And this is where the term “black launch” comes into play. This term means that a distribution grid decouples from the transmission grid in the event of a blackout and tries to “start up” again under its own power – in other words, to supply itself with electricity.

There are already many research approaches and studies that show that this “bottom-up” method can indeed work. The important thing here is that the distribution network has so-called “black launch capable” plants – for example, a large CHP unit. This CHP unit restarts on its own and forms the first energy source of the distribution network. Gradually, the distribution network operator connects further areas of its own network until ultimately the entire network (or part of it) is supplied with energy again – while the rest of Germany remains “black”. Developing such a concept, i.e. whether and how black launch is possible in a distribution grid, is subject to many conditions.

Our service for you

We have already conducted research for distribution system operators that provides a step-by-step plan for black launch – a black launch manual. Does this sound exciting to you? Then feel free to contact us and we will be happy to advise you on the topic of black launch.

Your Es-geht! Team