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Grid balancing with horticulturists, electric boilers and car batteries enabled by TenneT's mobile network in pilot project

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TenneT is investigating the possibility of using decentralised (sustainable) electrical power to participate in the market to balance supply and demand on the Dutch high voltage grid. This is the market for so-called aFRR (automatic Frequency Restoration Reserve), also known as regulating power. A new type of data connection was used successfully for the first time in the aFRR pilot project: data communication between market parties and TenneT (on activation and measurements) achieved using TenneT's mobile network. This removed a major barrier to the supply of aFRR by (new) Balancing Services Providers (BSPs).

The aFRR supply by Enova – one of the parties in the aFRR pilot – has shown that the necessary information can be exchanged with TenneT via its mobile network. The pilot parties Sympower and Next Kraftwerke will also soon follow.

Energy Manager Arjan van der Spek of the Bergschenhoek Horticulture Cluster: ‘This is an excellent example of cooperation between TenneT and Enova that will let Dutch greenhouse horticulture contribute positively to keeping the electricity grid in balance. It also seems that we’re going to be better off financially, so let’s go for it!’


TenneT will monitor and evaluate the performance of its mobile network over the coming months. If the evaluation is successful, TenneT will make the data connection available to all BSPs interested in using it to supply aFRR as soon as possible.

More active consumer role

The energy market is changing. The urgency of sustainability and energy independence is spurring a significant growth in the (decentralised) generation of sustainable energy. Consumers are also playing an increasingly active role by generating their own electricity as prosumers. So the system is changing from a demand-driven one with centralised production, to a more supply-driven system with decentralised generation.

TenneT is purchasing Ancillary Services to maintain the grid balance and is still dependent on large production units for this purpose. Because large-scale generation may no longer be available in the future, TenneT must also be able to procure it from small-scale decentralised generation and large-scale and small-scale demand response.

TenneT is investigating how it can facilitate these developments. New market parties want to serve the Ancillary Services market as Balancing Service Providers (BSPs). But the product specifications are a barrier to the new entrants, for example those relating to data communication via leased lines. 

Private mobile network

aFRR delivery requires a real-time data connection with a maximum four-second delay (one second in the future). So far the only safe and reliable option has been the leased line. This is not a problem for large-scale production units, as they frequently already have a leased-line connection with TenneT for other purposes. But for new BSPs, especially those without a direct connection to the TenneT high voltage grid, the purchase of a leased line is a major barrier to entry into the aFRR market. This threshold has been lowered with the live operation of TenneT's mobile network.

About balance and regulating power

One of TenneT’s statutory tasks is to maintain the balance of the entire Dutch electricity grid. The demand for and supply of electricity must always be in equilibrium. TenneT achieves this by calling up a range of balance products, such as FCR, aFRR and mFRR. These are standardised product names across the EU.

FCR is used to stabilise frequency disturbances in the entire (internationally) coupled high voltage grid, irrespective of disturbance. For keeping the realtime (supply and demand) balance of the Netherlands TenneT activates aFRR and mFRR. This could for example be used to support a power plant outage or an incorrect expectation of the amount of wind or solar energy within the Netherlands.

Using alternative sources in the aFRR market is not always possible with current specifications and communication technology. TenneT’s aim for these pilots is therefore to investigate and, where possible, lower the barriers to the provision of regulating power on the basis of decentralised (sustainable) electrical power. TenneT will thus be able to ensure there will continue to be sufficient future suppliers and flexible capacity to balance supply and demand in the Netherlands. 

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Jeroen Brouwers

Media Relations

+31 (0)26 373 26 00


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