The security of the electric system

New Display CNCEnsuring the security of the Italian electricity system and

contributing to the security of countries with which Italy is interconnected is a sensitive task, which Ternai performs through a series of actions determined by a scrupulous assessment of operating risks. The objective is to maintain the risk of service outage with pre-established limits and mitigate as much as possible the negative consequences in the event they occur. 

To keep security levels high, Terna must maintain an excellent performance in all the phases of its activities, from the development and construction of infrastructure to plant maintenance and real-time operation. The benchmark for the criteria to adopt is the best European practices in the field of the management of interconnected electricity systems. These practices are the result of the cooperation that has taken place for some time within the international organizations in which Terna participates as a transmission system operator (TSO). It is particularly in the most significant organization, the ENTSO-E – which was founded in 2009 to replace the international organizations ATSOI, BALTSO, NORDEL, UCTE, UKTSOA, and ETS) – that the TSOs cooperate in writing reports on the security and adequacy of the European electricity system, international grid codes, and a ten-year plan for the development of the European electric grid.

For Terna, preventing and containing operating risk means monitoring and protecting the physical integrity of its plants, preparing defense plans to limit malfunctions, preventive planning of real-time operation and control, and training the employees involved through modern simulation instruments that reproduce the behavior of the system as it can be observed from control rooms.           

Terna’s commitment to continual improvement is expressed in the Plan for the Security of the Electricity System prepared by the Company and approved by the Ministry of Economic Developmenti. The Plan is drawn up every year with a three-year time horizon. In the different editions of the Plan since it was introduced in 2003, the approach to the security of the electricity system has become increasingly complex.      

Initially, the most pressing need was to enhance anti-blackout measures, but subsequently the Company also worked on infrastructure aspects such as the reinforcement of disaster-recovery structures and the physical security of plants, as well as introducing control concepts in line with modern theories on smart grids. At the same time, the investment called for by the Plan has increased from 10 million euro in 2004 to 96 million in 2010.

In 2010, progress continued to be made in:

  • reducing the risk of power failures, thanks to integrated maintenance planning
  • applying instruments – such as optimal power flow – for the optimal provision of resources for the dispatching service and the control of congestion on a nodal basis
  • introducing advance-dispatching kinds of processes and instruments the real-time management of the system 
  • controlling and monitoring production from renewable-energy plants in regulatory activities
  • controlling and correcting automatically the most frequent congestions of the electricity system
  • planning the new control system
  • gradually extending the anti-intrusion fencing and video surveillance of electric stations
  • upgrading the defense system through the remote control of distributors, which makes the continuous control of the load available for disconnection in case of emergencies.

The seventh edition of the Security Plan for 2010-2013 provides for 212 million euro of investment.