July 9, 2018 / 12:13 PM / 5 months ago

Europe grid operators act to fix lag, urge solution

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Europe’s power grid operators group said on Monday it had started a compensation scheme to limit a frequency deviation originating from a power grid row between Serbia and its former province Kosovo, which has again slowed some of Europe’s clocks.

FILE PHOTO: A wind turbine is seen in Kosovo's first wind farm in Kitka, Kosovo June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), grouping 43 grid operators from 26 countries, said digital clocks across Europe that use mains frequency to keep time, such as those on microwaves and clock radios, have fallen behind by one minute due to a drop in frequency on continental Europe’s transmission network.

The body urged Serbia and Kosovo to quickly resolve the problem, which earlier this year slowed those clocks by as much as six minutes.

With the warmer weather in Europe, power demand across the continent could rise and the frequency deviation may widen.

“Drops of frequency happen and solidarity mechanisms exist but the Kosovo-Serbia issue is new,” ENTSO-E spokeswoman Claire Camus said in an emailed response to questions from Reuters, calling it a political issue that demanded a political solution.

Camus said the compensation scheme launched by continental European transmission system operators would limit the delay to below 60 seconds.

“If it is proven that there is deliberate unwillingness from both parties to solve the situation, sanctions can be looked at but so far there is no such proof,” she added.

MISSING ELECTRICITY

To lessen the impact on consumers, European grid operators agreed in March to inject missing electricity into the joint network and to restore the frequency. But the operators agreed they would not tolerate a grid time deviation of more than 60 seconds.

EMS blamed Kosovo for “withdrawing in an unauthorised manner uncontracted electricity” from the synchronised European grid.

“EMS will remain in contact with ENTSO-E seeking a solution to the problem,” EMS said, adding that prior to any decision about possible sanctions all the facts and responsibility had to established.

Kosovan grid operator KOSTT was not available to comment. It aims to become an ENTSO-E member but Serbia has been obstructing these efforts.

The dispute over regulatory issues and grid operation is further complicated by Belgrade’s refusal to recognise Kosovo, which seceded from Serbia in 2008.

Some 40,000 Serbs in the north of Kosovo do not pay their electricity bills to the Kosovo authorities.

Their bills used to be paid by the rest of Kosovo’s population until the country’s energy regulator ended that practice, leaving its grid operator KOSTT without the financial means to buy the energy needed to cover usage in the north.

Because this energy is not injected in the interconnected continental European system, frequency drops slightly, creating a grid time deviation.

The European Union is mediating in the dispute, which includes the implementation of the connection agreement between KOSTT and continental Europe, Camus said.

But the Serbian authorities set as a pre-condition the creation of an association of Serb municipalities in Kosovo and this is not acceptable to the Kosovo authorities, she added.

Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Mark Potter and Gareth Jones

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