Smooth power plant use and electricity distribution even in times of crisis
As Austria’s largest electricity generator with more than 130 hydropower, wind and thermal power plants, VERBUND is responsible for 40% of total electricity generation in Austria. VERBUND is also one of the leading electricity traders in Europe. Apart from safeguarding the health of employees, the business priority right now is about maintaining the power supply and necessary business processes such as, for example, the full capacity to act in power trading and the safe supply of customers with electricity.
For VERBUND, power trading represents the central energy hub between electricity generation, distribution and the wholesale market. The main load distributor, the Dispatching Centre at VERBUND head office in Vienna, controls power plant use, manages balancing power requirements and processes bottleneck management calls in order to keep the grid in Austria stable – and does so 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Generating forecasts and plans for optimising use are prepared on the basis of meteorological models for optimal marketing of in-house generation. Power plant availability and trading requirements are synchronised and processed according to a managed schedule.
The threads for the international energy trade come together on the trading floor. VERBUND trades in 12 European countries on all major energy exchanges. The long-term electricity business is processed via standardised monthly, quarterly and annual contracts via the European Energy Exchange (EEX) in Leipzig. For the current financial year 2020, VERBUND has already hedged around 70% of its generation capacity via such futures products. Short-term electricity trades are made on the EPEX-Spot (European Power Exchange) in Paris, on the Austrian Energy Exchange Alpen Adria (EXAA) and in over-the-counter trade (OTC). Electricity for the next day (“day ahead”) is traded on the basis of current generation forecasts. Additionally, the purchase or sale of electricity for balancing fluctuations takes place on the same day in intraday trading – in the form of hourly, 15-minute and even 5-minute products.
Split teams in power trading and the backup control room for maximum security
At the end of February 2020 – three weeks before the start of the Austria-wide lockdown – the VERBUND teams for dispatching, intraday and exchange trading as well as the journal service were physically separated from each other and spilt between two control room locations. A decisive advantage of this is the backup control room location outside Vienna, which is kitted out with mirrored equipment and infrastructure for dispatching and trading, and is put through its paces in regular scenario training sessions. With a special focus on the safety of employees, the team members should not come into contact with one another wherever possible. Where contact is unavoidable, e.g. during shift handover in the control room, social distancing is practised. In an absolute emergency, the control rooms are equipped with emergency beds and food rations as well as personal hygiene products.