History of the transmission systems in Europe

1884

Pioneers in Swiss electricity

First electricity transmission line is commissioned from the Taubenloch Gorge near Biel/Bienne to a wire drawing plant in Bözingen. The lines are mounted on wooden masts along the streets, over roofs and sometimes even on the facades of houses – the beginnings of electricity transmission in Switzerland.

1958

Switzerland, Germany and France join forces

The three countries interconnect their 220 kV electricity grids for the first time.

1967

The Star of Laufenburg

Germany, France and Switzerland interconnect their grids at the high-voltage level. The central hub of the 380 kV grids is in Laufenburg. The Star of Laufenburg brings greater grid stability and security of supply. A further 14 countries join together in the European integrated network UCPTE1. The Eastern block countries (UCPTE2) are not connected.

1984

East and West move closer together

Western Europe starts trading electricity with Eastern European countries. Political and physical difficulties need to be overcome. The two grids are not synchronised and operate using different voltages, frequencies and phases. High-voltage direct current links are deployed so that electricity can still be exchanged.

1999

EU opens up the electricity market

The EU member states liberalise their electricity markets. This changes the rules of the game for Switzerland: energy producers and grid operators who want to participate in the European electricity market are required to unbundle their activities. At the same time, UCPTE becomes UCTE (Union for the Coordination of the Transmission of Electricity), coordinating the work of 29 transmission system operators in 24 countries.

2006

Switzerland establishes an independent transmission system operator

On 15 December 2006 Swissgrid commences operations as operator of the Swiss transmission system and with responsibility for operation, security and expansion of the 6,700 kilometre long high-voltage grid. In particular, Swissgrid guarantees transparent and non-discriminatory access to the grid.

2007

First stage: opening of the Swiss electricity market

The new Electricity Supply Act brings greater competition. Large consumers (over 100,000 kilowatt hours) are allowed to choose their electricity provider. These 50,000 or so corporate consumers account for half of the electricity consumption in Switzerland. The electricity market is scheduled to be fully liberalised in 2018. Deregulation in Switzerland is based on directives issued by the EU and aims to enhance security of supply and competitiveness in Switzerland.

2009

Merger of the European transmission system operators

ENTSO-E (European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity) took up its work in July. ENTSO-E coordinates cooperation between 42 European transmission system operators and, as such, has assumed the responsibilities of its six predecessor organisations UCTE, ETSO, ATSOI (Ireland), UKTSOA (UK), NORDEL (Northern Europe) and BALTSO (Baltic states).

2014

Swissgrid takes part in European power exchange EPEX Spot

The cooperation agreement between Swissgrid and EPEX Spot has laid the foundations for future implementation projects for the launch of market coupling at the Swiss borders. Market coupling means power supply and cross-border transport capacities will no longer be traded separately but together. As a result, limited cross-border transport capacities can be managed more efficiently in the future.

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