Slovenia and Croatia get €40m to bridge the energy gap

EU funding for the first phase of the Sincro Grid project has been awarded.
Published: Thu 25 May 2017

Slovenian and Croatian power distribution and transmission system operators are to receive €40m ($45.1m) in EU funding for the first phase of their joint Sincro Grid project, according to a European Commission statement. The funding is being made available from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the Transmission and Distribution System Operators (DSOs and TSOs) involved in the implementation of the project are SODO and ELES from Slovenia, and HOPS and HEP ODS from Croatia.

Sincro Grid to strengthen energy supplies

Sincro Grid is aimed at enhancing the link between the two countries’ electricity grids, thereby boosting renewable energy consumption in the region.

The Sincro Grid project will integrate several innovative technologies to ensure that grids have the capacity to efficiently transmit electricity across the border where a virtual cross-border control centre will be established. Technologies include 6 compensation devices to address at cross-border level overvoltage and voltage instability issues within the regional transmission grid, advanced dynamic thermal rating (DTR) systems, Batteries with a capacity of 10 MW,  2 MW of distributed generation sources with the ability to accumulate primary energy (small hydro, biogas), and a virtual cross-border control centre (VCBCC) consisting in dedicated IT infrastructure and software to be used by system operators for the efficient and coordinated management of renewable energy.

The project will also ensure that more energy can be generated by smaller, local power sources and will increase energy storage capacity in the region. This ultimate aim is to improve the security of energy supply in the region.

Croatia and Slovenia –a necessary energy partnership

Croatia and Slovenia have enjoyed cross-border cooperation for many years. The 400kV TESLA loop, built in the 1970s, has provided a strong interconnection to mainland Europe.

Slovenia and Croatia are located in the centre of the European Electricity System. Both countries host significant electricity transit flows from East to West, enabling the evacuation of high renewable generation from the Balkans to Western Europe.

A Manifesto published by 16 Members of the European Parliament in June last year: ‘South-Eastern Europe: more than just a gas corridor, a lighthouse for Europe’ highlights the significant renewable energy potential in the region and suggests the promotion of joint projects and regional cooperation to harness it.

In 2015, Croatia posted a 29% share of renewable energy, exceeding its 2020 target by 9%. Slovenia, had a 22% share of renewables in gross final consumption, still some way off its 25% target for 2020 but the Sincro Grid is aimed at boosting that figure.

According to the Sincro Grid website, the TSOs and DSOs of both countries have co-operated well at national and cross border levels and they intend to further strengthen this interaction in order to contribute to the success of the European targets for a sustainable, efficient and secure energy system.

In recent years, the Slovenian and Croatian electricity systems have faced a number of challenges including the support of renewables integration to attain EU targets,  decreased electricity consumption due to the economic crisis, a drop in centralised electricity production for electric system support and high interconnectivity between neighbouring control zones.  

Sincro Grid-synergetic benefits

The Slovenian and Croatian TSOs and DSOs started separately addressing these issues in 2014 but the system operators realised that uncoordinated actions were not going to provide a satisfactory level of security of operation while allowing for hosting higher levels of renewables integration and maintaining a sufficient level of ancillary services in both systems.

And so the need for Sincro Grid came about.

According to the project’s website, the solution offers a joint, cross-border and systemic approach which will bring “synergetic benefits to address the above-mentioned issues in a sustainable manner. It will enable TSOs and DSOs to deliver an acceptable level of security of operation for at least the next ten years, with no need for repeated investments to maintain this security level above the minimal bottom line, while hosting levels of RES in line with the trends foreseen to reach the 2030 targets safely.”