Austrian Power Grid: How PICASSO and MARI help reduce electricity costs and integrate renewables


Short-term trading opportunities help save millions of euros and enable APG to fine-tune the electricity balance between supply and demand.

Vienna (OTS) Regardless of whether it is the refrigerator, the hair dryer, the washing machine or the stove, they all have something in common: they need electricity, and one that comes out of the socket at almost the same frequency. “Electricity supply and demand must be balanced at all times. Even a minimal deviation leads to fluctuations in the power frequency, which in turn can have a negative effect on electronic devices and electrically operated machines, ”explains Thomas Karall, Commercial Director of APG Austrian Power Grid (APG). In order for all electronic devices to function as consistently as we are used to in Austria, APG must always reinsure itself so that the electricity that is required can be delivered at any time. In technical terminology, the term for this is called control reserve. “This means that we buy electricity on the market that we can fall back on in the event of short-term deviations between electricity supply and demand. Secure access to control reserves is important today, for example, for the further integration of renewable energy into the European power grid – a point that will become even more relevant in the next few years, ”says Karall.

Control reserve cooperations PICASSO and MARI will revolutionize the electricity market

Up to now, purchasing control reserves has not been very flexible. That should change with two projects for a Europe-wide exchange for control reserves “PICASSO” and “MARI”. The difference: With PICASSO and MARI, APG can fall back on control reserves across Europe. “In very technical terms, this means that control reserves can be made available and traded every 15 minutes (during the day). There will be 96 energy tenders every day, each lasting 15 minutes, ”says Karall. APG plans to be there from the start of the “PICASSO” and “MARI” projects in late 2021 and early 2022, respectively. Because: the shorter the trade possible and the greater the number of cooperation partners in Europe, the lower the costs. “Since 2014 we have repeatedly shortened the auction intervals and tested new models. Due to current events: with the introduction of the regular labor market from December 1, 2020, the interval between daily auctions has been shortened to 4 hourly. Initiatives of this kind ensure that the costs for control reserves, which in 2014 were € 203 million, have now been reduced to € 40 million per year. That is a saving of more than 80 percent, ”states Karall. With “PICASSO” and “MARI” the costs should level off at this low level or even further reduce. At the same time, more Austrian providers can offer cross-border services or electricity will therefore tend to be cheaper for Austrian consumers. Another advantage of short-term trading in control reserves is that smaller providers with fewer resources can also use the results of their forecasts directly for the control reserve markets.

“MARI” and “PICASSO” are Europe-wide collaborations for the activation of short-term control reserves. In Europe, every transmission system operator is obliged to procure control reserves. These control reserves are offered, for example, by operators of gas or water or pumped storage power plants who can change their production / demand at short notice and very flexibly (within seconds).

About Austrian Power Grid (APG)
Austrian Power Grid (APG) is Austria’s independent power grid operator that controls and is responsible for the supra-regional power transmission network. APG’s infrastructure secures Austria’s power supply and is therefore the lifeline of Austria, the population and its companies. The APG network extends over a route length of around 3,400 km, which the company operates and maintains with a team of around 600 specialists and continuously adapts to the increasing demands of business and society. The capacities of the APG power grid are the prerequisite for the success of the energy transition. Employees develop suitable market products, have a command of physics and guarantee safety and efficiency for Austria. With an investment volume of 350 million euros for the expansion and renovation of the network infrastructure in 2020, APG is giving the domestic construction industry a powerful boost. Overall, APG will invest around 3.1 billion euros in network expansion and renovation over the next ten years. That is around 16 percent of the total of 18 billion euros that the e-industry will invest in network expansion over the next ten years. In the Sustainable Brand Rating 2020, APG is ranked first in the utility infrastructure category and second in the overall rating in the investment category.

Inquiries & contact:

Austrian Power Grid AG
Mag. Christoph Schuh
Head of Corporate Communications & Reputation Management / company spokesman
+43 50 320 56230

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