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Elering: Time not yet ripe for Russian electricity desynchronization tests

An Elering electricity condenser under construction.
An Elering electricity condenser under construction. Source: ERR

Tests to be conducted ahead of desynchronizing the Estonian electricity grid from that of the Russian Federation should not be conducted until all three Baltic States are ready, grid distributor Elering says.

Elering made the announcement after its Lithuanian equivalent, Litgrid, said that it was postponing a planned de-synchronization test which had been due to go ahead this month, mainly due to the situation with energy security in the current conflict, and the soaring electricity prices, which at times have been even higher in Lithuania than they have been in Estonia.

Estonia, too, has been investing in its own grid, which means a test de-synchronization should not yet go ahead, a move which might weaken the grid as it is.

Elering director Taavi Veskimägi said: "As of today, the implementation of all these investments, worth about €350 million are in progress, and until they are completed, we see no meaningful purpose in such a separation attempt, considering that each separation attempt means a weaker electricity system and additional risks and costs for consumers."

The decoupling from the Russian grid and synchronization with the European grid is due for 2025, Veskimägi noted, adding that all three Baltic States have sufficient connection agreements with the managers of the European system to be confident about that going ahead.

A separation test would primarily ensure that all new equipment added to the Baltic electricity system, such as new lines, synchronous condensers, fast reserve capacities of power plants and control devices, are ready for synchronous operation with the continental European electricity system.

In the case of the aborted test planned in Lithuania, systems managers of all three Baltic States had made the necessary preparations to ensure the system's reliability - for instance by limiting the capacity of the largest power generation device to 350 MW, and the same to external connections – which in Estonia means EstLInk 2, the undersea connection between Estonia and Finland.

Backup electricity reserves in Latvia (100 MW) and Estonia itself (250 MW) would be utilized if testing shuold lead to Estlink 2 being offline.

Elering's Lithuanian subsidiary had made similar preparations in the case of the planned test there, with a limit to 640MW in the connection going northwards to Latvia and Estonia.

Both Elering and the partners were ready to react to possible changes in the operation of the electricity system if necessary, and electricity producers were also warned about the separation test.

Litigrid which has previously tested desynchronization on two occasions, announced on Friday that it decided to postpone the separation test planned for September, mainly due to the situation on the electricity market, including high energy prices and the need to ensure the maximum capacity of the electricity connection between the countries of the region.

In the past, Litgrid has played through desynchronization twice. The first test was successfully carried out in 2020, and the second test was carried out by Lithuania together with the Polish main grid company PSE last year through LitPol Link, which is used to synchronize the electricity grids of all Baltic countries with continental Europe.

Before synchronizing with the continental European network, all Baltic states must conduct a common isolated test, during which Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania form an energy "island". Once this is done and the technical requirements for synchronization are met, the Baltic states will be able to operate on the same frequency as continental European networks.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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