Eastern Africa Power Pool Operationalizes Interconnection of Power Systems

Case Study
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Decarbonization
Power Systems Planning
Power System Analysis
Renewable Energy

ENGIE Impact and Partners Complete EAPP’s Readiness Assessment

Since March 2019, the “Technical Assistance to support Operational Readiness of the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP)” has been a focus of the consortium supported the EAPP General Secretariat and its regional members.

Together with Energinet and Ea Energy Analyses, ENGIE Impact’s power system team has successfully completed a major project that will pave the way towards a reliable and secure operation of the regional interconnected network. It marks a significant milestone for the goal of providing affordable and modern energy services from sustainable sources to the EAPP countries.

Challenge: Balancing Electricity Demand & Supply Across Regions

Electricity demand is growing rapidly in Eastern Africa countries. In 2020 the total forecasted peak load was around 58 GW, and this is expected to grow to 95 GW by 2030. The growth of electricity demand is driven by the expected economic growth in the region and its plans to increase electrification rates. The combination of hydroelectric power plants and fossil fuel-based power stations results in a large spread in marginal generation costs, therefore creating a strong incentive for cross-border power exchanges.

The complexity of the EAPP stems from the fact that it covers a large geographical area characterized by a diverse power generation mix. Operational readiness, where all prerequisites are fulfilled to enable reliable and successful operation of the interconnected power system, is critical for this region's growth and sustainability transformation.

Project Roadmap and Key Insights

Over the course of two years, our transversal team of power system experts steered four major tasks that were deemed as cornerstones to implementing the right framework for developing the EAPP:

1. IC Compliance Assessment

As the Interconnection Code (IC) defines the framework and rules for the planning and operation of the EAPP interconnected network, compliance to the IC is critical for guaranteeing a reliable and secure operation of the regional interconnected system.

Our teams prepared a complementary gap analysis and mitigation plan, which demonstrated that various countries showed disparate levels of compliance to the IC. Therefore, efforts will be required to harmonize operational practices as networks gradually become more interconnected in the near future. To ensure harmony, operational guidelines are being developed in close collaboration with the Operations Committee and are seen as the next step in the joint operation of the interconnected system.

2. Power Balance Statement

According to the Interconnection Code, the EAPP should publish on a yearly basis its Power Balance Statement (PBS), presenting a generation adequacy assessment per country and for the entire region.

ENGIE Impact, Energinet, Ea Energy Analyses and EAPP collaborated closely to issue a ‘power balance statement’ – a tool designed to provide early warnings about potential security issues related to energy supply. As such analysis aims to be undertaken on a yearly basis, covering the 10-year period ahead, the Planning Committee will issue the power balance statement each year at the end of September. It was recognized that this task and related developed tools will enable the Planning Committee to further develop and publish a yearly EAPP Power Balance Statement.

3. System Operator Training

Today, a framework exists on the responsibilities and the minimum acceptable requirements for the development and implementation of the System Operator Training (i.e., System Operator Training Code). The code specifies these requirements for an initial training scheme and a continuous course.

Our work on the matter consisted of a gap analysis of existing training programs for system operators. We observed that most training at utilities consist of on-the-job training, and that formal training is lacking in many situations. As a result, thorough training on operational aspects linked to the interconnected operation is often advised. In a similar spirit to the need for cross-border power exchange, we strongly recommend an exchange of system operators between neighboring countries. Besides, a thorough understanding of the characteristics and procedures at neighboring systems lies at the foundation of a reliable operation.

4. Power System Analysis

We developed a power system simulation model together with the Planning Committee, representing the entire EAPP power system at peak load in the years 2020 and 2025. These models aim to support the Planning Committee in setting up and maintaining its own power system model database.

Our model proves its efficiency on a wide array of activities, both at the national and regional levels. It can, for instance, enable the assessment of system behavior in planning, commercial and operational studies. Our models were also leveraged to perform a series of power system analyses, leading to a set of recommendations for protection schemes on the interconnection lines and installation of PSS. Ultimately, net transfer capacities on cross-border exchanges could be defined, and we validated a harmonized under-frequency load shedding scheme.

Main Forecasts and Next Steps

Within the next two years, multiple interconnections (e.g., Egypt-Sudan, Ethiopia-Kenya, Uganda-Rwanda, Kenya-Tanzania) will come into commercial operation, creating for the first time a fully interconnected EAPP power system consisting of two synchronous systems, further interconnected through the Ethiopia-Kenya HVDC interconnector. Two additional synchronous systems exist in D.R. Congo (Southern and Western system). Ultimately, our studies forecast an ever-growing share of renewables that will only strengthen the need for more cross-border exchanges in Eastern Africa.

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Develop operational guidelines to harmonize IC compliance

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Leverage the right tools to publish a yearly EAPP Power Balance Statement

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Foster international knowledge-sharing between system operators

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Focus on protection schemes for the interconnection lines and installation of PSS

With the imminent interconnection of the entire EAPP, the region is at a tipping point regarding the development of its power system. Commitment from national utilities and support from the EAPP General Secretariat appear inasmuch essential to make the EAPP interconnected operation a success that would benefit the entire region. Developing and setting the necessary framework for this region will allow for continuous operational success and growth, setting an example for the world.

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