“Today, the electricity grids of Ukraine and Moldova have been successfully synchronised with the Continental European Grid. This will help Ukraine to keep their electricity system stable, homes warm and lights on during these dark times. It is also a historic milestone for the EU-Ukraine relationship – in this area, Ukraine is now part of Europe", shared Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson.
Alberto Pototschnig, Deputy Director of the Florence School of Regulation Energy and an economist with extensive experience in energy policy, regulation and market design issues, reacted to the news by answering a few questions and explaining what the move will entail.
How does an electricity system operate?
In simple terms, in order for an electricity system to operate, frequency should be maintained within narrow limits around its chosen nominal value (in Europe being 50 Herts, in the US 60 Hertz). Synchronisation of the systems throughout a region means that the systems in the whole region share the same frequency, which is supported by all the resources (generation and load) in the region. The wider the synchronous system, the more resources contribute to keep the frequency stable, the easier this is.
In which way were the electricity systems of Ukraine and Moldova operating before?
Until the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation army, most of Ukraine and Moldova were part of the Russian/Belorussian synchronous system (as the Baltic countries still are). In that respect, they relied on the much larger Russian system to maintain the frequency in Ukraine. With the de-synchronisation from the Russian system and the synchronisation to the Continental European system, now Ukraine can rely on the latter to keep its system stable.
What does the Synchronisation of the Continental European Electricity Grid entail?
As of today, Ukraine and Moldova can rely on Europe, rather than on Russia, to keep lights on. With this initiative, ENSTO-E (the European association for the cooperation of transmission system operators for electricity), the other European partners and the Transmission System Operators of Ukraine and Moldova managed to achieve in only two weeks what was planned over the next year.
For more information and visual reference on synchronisation of the electricity grid please visit page 10 - 11 of the 'The Evolution of Electricity Markets in Europe' book, as well as page 7 - 17 of The EU electricity network codes' report.
Browse the theme dedicated to 'Electricity' in the Florence School of Regulation's archive page to learn more.
More articles can also be found under 'Electricity markets in the EU' and 'EU Electricity Network Codes'.