April 3, 2018 / 4:29 PM / 22 days ago

Europe's digital clocks back to speed after grid operators fix lag

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Tardy Europeans have one less excuse for being late after Europe’s power network operators fixed a lag of nearly six minutes in mains-powered digital clocks that was caused by a power grid dispute between Kosovo and Serbia.

Digital clocks that use the mains frequency in an electric power grid to keep time, like those on microwaves and clock radios, began falling behind earlier this year when the frequency in Europe’s transmission network dropped.

This was caused by a power shortage lasting from mid-January to March after Kosovo began to use more power than it produced and Serbia, which is in charge of balancing Kosovo’s grid, failed to fill the gap.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) said on Tuesday that 26 of its members had carried out a compensation scheme to return the mains frequency across Europe to its standard of 50 Hertz (Hz) from 49.996 Hz.

ENTSO-E said that to do so the grid operators had put more energy into the system, maintaining an average electric frequency at 50.01 Hz during March.

“One of the effects is notably that the digital clocks geared by electric frequency are now back on time,” it said in a statement.

Serbia and Kosovo maintain conflicting claims of ownership of Kosovo’s power grid. Both power grids are synchronised with others in Europe.

ENTSO-E said it would continue to support all parties in finding a long lasting solution to energy dispute between Serbia and Kosovo.

Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008. Belgrade, which still refuses to recognise Kosovo, committed to normalise ties with Pristina, key to its progress towards European Union membership. But little progress has been made.

As part of the deal, both countries in 2015 signed an agreement on operating their grids, but it has never been enacted as they maintain conflicting claims about ownership of the power grid in Kosovo.

Serbs in the north of Kosovo, who do not recognise its institutions, refuse to pay their electricity bills and Kosovo’s grid operator KOSTT says that the Serbian counterpart EMS obstructs KOSTT’s efforts to become a full-fledged ENTSO-E member.

Reporting By Maja Zuvela; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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