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Baltic electricity systems preparing to operate independently

Baltic electricity systems preparing to operate independently

In 2018, the power systems of the three Baltic countries will be briefly disconnected from other countries so that they can attempt to operate in isolation. Testing isolated operation is one of the most important technological steps in preparing the Baltic countries for synchronisation with the Continental European Network.
During testing, the three Baltic countries will temporarily limit all connections with their neighbours – Russia, Belarus, Finland, Sweden and Poland. Electricity demand in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will be ensured solely by electricity production sources within these countries.
“We are currently part of the IPS/UPS and are heavily dependent on other participants of this large power system - Belarus and Russia. The testing is designed to check if we are prepared in the event that the neighbouring countries that we are linked to experience a failure and we would need to operate independently. This is especially pertinent in preparing the electricity systems of the Baltic countries for synchronisation with the Continental European Network: the testing will show what our technical capabilities are and whether our personnel are prepared to jointly manage the Baltic power system isolated from our neighbours. After the test, its results will be thoroughly analysed and the test later repeated,” says Litgrid CEO Daivis Virbickas.
Even though the isolated operation testing will only last a few hours, it is already being carefully prepared for this year. This year's task is to analyse system reliability by assessing the current technical condition of the Baltic power systems. In order to ensure financing for this job, the Baltic electricity system operators - Litgrid, AST and Elering - have already applied to the European Infrastructure Development Fund - Connecting Europe Facility.
After evaluating the ability of the systems to operate in isolation and planning the technical measures that need to be introduced, the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian electricity transmission system operators will decide when and how to conduct this testing. The conditions will then be coordinated with everyone who may be affected by this testing: power producers, the power exchange and the transmission system operators of neighbouring countries.
Electric transmission system operators only conduct similar tests after having carefully and completely prepared for them. The last time a test like this was performed successfully in the Baltic region was in 2002.
“The last time a test was conducted, we still didn’t have international power interconnections and we were not participants of a free electricity market; in addition, there was only one company in each country organising electricity production, transmission and supply. This time more companies will participate in the tests one way or another, and there are significantly more economic and technological factors that need to be weighed carefully and be prepared for,” says Mr Virbickas.
Isolated operation testing is planned to be conducted for the Baltic States in 2018.
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