Power grid dispute between Serbia and Kosovo slows digital clocks across Europe

Power grid dispute between Serbia and Kosovo slows digital clocks across Europe
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje March 7, 2018

The association of the European transmission system operators (TSOs) ENTSO-E has urged Serbia and Kosovo to immediately resolve a spat over their power networks, which has affected the broader European grid, slowing digital clocks across the continent.

Serbia and Kosovo, a former Serbian province that unilaterally declared independent in 2008, currently share their power network, which is connected to Europe’s synchronised high voltage power system.

Belgrade and Pristina signed an inter-TSO agreement on network and system operation management in 2015, but it has not been implemented yet. The reason is the lack of consent on power distribution in Kosovo as both lay claims to the ownership of the grid, built during the time of ex-Yugoslavia, when both were part of the federation.

The power deviations, which led to a slight decrease in the electric frequency average, are originating from the control area called Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro (SMM block) and specifically from Kosovo and Serbia, ENTSO-E, said in a press release on March 6.

According to ENTSO-E, the political disagreements between Serbian and Kosovan authorities have led to the observed electricity impact. If no solution can be found at political level, a deviation risk could remain.

The missing energy currently amounts to 113 GWh and it is affecting electric clocks that are steered by the frequency of the power system rather than by a quartz crystal. Such clocks now show a delay of close to six minutes.  

Given the impact of the political dispute on the functioning of the electricity system, ENTSO-E urged European and national governments and policy makers to take swift action to help find a technical solution.

Europe’s synchronous electricity grid is a wide area grid covering 25 countries. In continental Europe, the synchronised frequency is of 50 Hz, but for the system to properly function the frequency cannot go below 47.6 or above 52.4 Hz.

“This average frequency deviation, that has never happened in any similar way in the CE Power system, must cease,” the organisation stressed.

At extreme values above and below the normal range, all connected generation and devices would automatically disconnect. The average frequency of the period since mid-January 2018 until March 6 was around 49.996 Hz, according to ENTSO-E.

The association proposed, as a first step towards solving the issue, to end the deviation and then to provide compensation for the missing energy. It expects the first step to be taken this week (though taking the system back to normal could take a few weeks), while the timeline for the second step has yet to be decided. According to ENTSO-E, the question of who will compensate for the loss still has to be answered.