Synchronisation

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Synchronisation

Synchronisation of the national electricity with the Continental Europe is the last step towards Lithuania’s energy independence. The electricity systems of the Baltic states are currently still dependent on system management in Russia, but already in 2025, they will operate in one synchronous area together with the systems of other European countries. 
 
Why is this important?
 
Historically, the Lithuanian electricity system has been operating synchronously with the IPS / UPS system, which still connects the systems of Belarus, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and other countries.  That makes Baltic States dependent on system-wide frequency management done in Russia, and also susceptible to potential failures in this system. At the same time, despite being a part of the European Union, Baltic States are isolated from its integrated electricity grid by HVDC (high voltage direct current) links.
 
Energy isolation of the Baltic States in the European Union will only be completely eliminated once the electricity systems have become full participants in the European electricity infrastructure, market and system, i.e., upon the start of synchronous operation in the Continental European Synchronous Area (CESA).
 
What are the benefits of synchronisation?
 
The synchronisation project will allow Lithuania to achieve energy independence, therefore it is especially important in terms of national security. But there are other benefits to syncing:
 
•   The infrastructure installed within the scope of the synchronisation project will help to integrate more electricity generation from renewable resources into the Lithuanian system. The new lines and equipment will contribute to Lithuania's 2050 target to become a country which generates 100 percent of electricity from wind, solar and other renewable resources.
 
•   Synchronisation with the networks of Continental Europe is the only way to separate the three Baltic States from the Astravets nuclear power plant and the energy it produces not only commercially and legally, but also physically.
 
•   Electricity trade with mainland Europe, our strategic economic partners, will increase with construction of the new Harmony Link marine connection.
 
•    Complete separation from the IPS / UPS zone is necessary not only for technical reasons. It will also be beneficial in economic terms, as it will create a level playing field for producers and encourage investment in the market. At present, third-country electricity producers using unsafe and polluting equipment have an advantage over Baltic producers investing in renewable energy and striving for sustainable production.
 
Thus, in addition to becoming full players in Europe's electricity infrastructure, we will be able to self-manage the frequency of the electricity system through interconnections of electrical system networks, and there will be more opportunities for the development of renewable energy sources and greater participation in the EU's single electricity market.
 
How will the synchronisation work?
 
Synchronisation of the Baltic States with the CESA will take place by modification of the existing connection between Lithuania and Poland (LitPol Link), and a new HVDC submarine cable (Harmony Link). Internal electricity transmission grids of the Baltic States and Poland will also be strengthened, the system will be ready for disconnection from the IPS / UPS system and for independent frequency control, and synchronous condensers will be installed.
 
The Government of Lithuania approved a list of 14 synchronisation projects in 2019:
 
 
Currently, 3 of these projects (Expansion of Bitėnai transformer substation, Construction of Pagėgiai-Bitėnai 110 kV overhead line and Reconstruction of Lithuanian E-Vilnius 330 kV overhead line) have already been implemented. 
 
What are the main goals of synchronisation projects?
 
•   To create a "gateway to the West". This includes modification of the existing Lithuanian-Polish LitPol Link interconnection, construction of the new marine Harmony Link interconnection and the construction of the Darbėnai transformer / converter substation. These interconnections will both enable synchronous operation of the Baltic grid in Lithuanian, Latvia, and Estonia with CESA.
 
•   To strengthen the Lithuanian electricity transmission network in order to ensure its resilience even after disconnection from the IPS / UPS. This includes ensuring reliable power supply to the capital city of Vilnius, reconstruction of substations in North-Eastern Lithuania, strengthening the transmission grid of Western Lithuania to support disconnection from the Kaliningrad region of Russia, and integration of the Harmony Link interconnection.
 
•   To install a fleet of 9 synchronous condensers (three synchronous condensers each in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia). To be admitted to CESA, the Baltic States have to meet certain technical requirements of the system. One of those requirements is the grid inertia. To ensure this, synchronous condensers - powerful rotating motors designed to support the grid in event of extreme interruptions - will be installed.
 
•   To implement a system frequency stability assessment system and an automatic generation control system. Both of these critical IT solutions will improve stability of the Baltic grid during the synchronous operation.
 
•   To test the synchronous operation of the Lithuanian and Polish electrical systems in case of unplanned disconnection from the IPS / UPS; to perform tests of the isolated operation of the Lithuanian electricity system and the three Baltic States.
 
•   Once all the conditions are met, we will start operating synchronously with Continental Europe.
 
How much will the synchronisation cost?
 
The value of the Baltic and Continental European electricity system integration project is about 1.6 billion euros. The project is partially funded by the European Union. More than 1 billion euro funding has already been allocated to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland from the EU Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). To date, each implementation project has been funded at the maximum possible intensity of 75%, funding intensity of studies – 50%. The rest of the project is funded by the three Baltic and Polish transmission system operators.
 
How did we get to the current point?
 
2007 The Prime Ministers of the Baltic States confirmed the strategic aspiration of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to become part of the Continental European Synchronous A (then UCTE).
 
Since 2013 the pursuit of synchronisation of the Baltic electricity networks has officially become part of the EU's energy policy. On June 22 2018, a historic agreement on the Political Roadmap for the implementation of the synchronisation project was signed at a special ceremony at the European Council.
 
On May 29 2019, the electricity transmission operators of Poland, the three Baltic States and select operators from the supporting member countries of RGCE (Regional Group Continental Europe) signed a connection agreement and the Catalog of Measures, after implementing which the Baltic States will become part of the European electricity network.
 
On June 20 2019, the political roadmap on the implementation of the synchronisation of the Baltic electricity system with the European networks was signed in Brussels. It sets out a concrete action plan and key projects to be implemented by 2025, when the Baltic States will join a secure and reliable European energy system.
 
In May 2020, Litgrid and the Polish electricity transmission network operator PSE signed a cooperation agreement for the implementation phase of the Harmony Link connection project, in which the operators undertake to contribute in equal parts to the installation of the marine interconnection.
 
In December 2020, the Baltic and Polish electricity transmission system operators signed a financing agreement with the European Commission for the financing of the second phase of synchronisation in the Baltic States. The Connecting Europe Facility granted 720 million euros to a number of projects, including Harmony Link and synchronous condensers in Lithuania.
 
The synchronisation of the Baltic States' electricity grid with the Continental European Network is planned to be implemented in 2025, but more than a decade has passed since the first steps in Lithuania. We present all the major events since 2007 up to now.
 
2007
The Prime Ministers of the Baltic States confirmed the strategic aspiration of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to become part of the Continental European Network (at that time – UCTE).
 
2012
The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania adopted a law establishing the goal of integration of the Lithuanian electricity system with the Continental European Network. In the same year, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania authorized Litgrid to implement the actions of synchronisation of the Lithuanian electricity system with the Continental European Network.
 
2013
A feasibility study on the integration of the Baltic States into the European Union internal electricity market by 2020 has been completed by the Baltic electricity transmission system operators and the Swedish consulting company Gothia Power AB. 
 
2014
The project of interconnection of electricity systems of the Baltic States and Continental Europe for synchronous operation is included in the list of projects of common interest of the European Commission.
 
2015
The European Council identified the importance of all dimensions of the European Energy Union in ensuring energy security. In the spring, an “Identification of technical requirements and costs for integration of large scale generating unit into the Baltic States' Power System Operating synchronously with the Continental Europe Networks” was carried out. Its purpose is to analyse the operation of the new NPP in the Baltic electricity system and to provide possible technical solutions for the connection of the new power plant to the transmission network, taking into account the currently valid technical standards.
 
2017
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre, in cooperation with the representatives of the Baltic Sea Region countries, conducted a study on the analysis of the Baltic synchronisation scenarios in the BEMIP (Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan) format.
 
2018
A Political Roadmap was reached in June on the synchronisation scenario and implementation deadline. In September, BEMIP approved a synchronisation scenario: the synchronous connection will take place via the existing dual-circuit 400 kV AC line LitPol Link and the new offshore HVDC connection between Poland and Lithuania.
 
On 19 September the transmission system operators of the Baltic States have applied to the Polish transmission system operator PSE for connection to the Continental European networks. On 21 September PSE, as a supporting party, applied to ENTSO-E RGCE (Regional Group Continental Europe) for the connection of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian electricity networks to the Continental European Network. This way the formal procedure for the extension of the Continental European synchronous area began.
 
2019
In January, the European Commission allocated the largest possible funding for projects to synchronise the Baltic energy system with Continental European networks from the CEF. EU funding is 75% of the value of the first phase of the synchronisation projects.
 
On 29 May, the ENTSO-E Continental Europe Regional Group of the European Transmission System Operators Association has announced that electricity transmission operators in Poland, the three Baltic States and the supporting countries have signed a connection agreement and technical connection conditions that will make Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia part of the Continental European Network.
 
In August, the Government of Lithuania approved a list of 14 synchronisation projects and granted them the status of special state importance.
 
The first of these projects – the expansion of Bitėnai transformer substation – was completed in November.
 
2020
In June, the second of the synchronisation projects approved by the Government was implemented – the construction of Pagėgiai-Bitėnai 110 kV overhead line.
 
In October, the European Commission made a decision to provide a record funding of 720 million EUR for the second phase of synchronisation. As in the first phase, projects in this phase are funded at 75% intensity.

In December, the third project of the synchronisation projects approved by the Government was implemented – the reconstruction of Lithuanian E-Vilnius 330 kV overhead line.
 
2021
In January, the route at sea and on land was selected for the interconnection with Poland to Harmony Link in the territory of Lithuania and the territory for the construction of the Darbėnai substation was purchased.
 
On March 30, the Baltic electricity transmission system operators signed a service agreement with the Continental European Consortium of Transmission System Operators for 5 studies aimed at providing recommendations on how to ensure the safe and stable operation of the Baltic States in the Continental European synchronous zone from 2025.
 
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