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Black Sea Transmission System Operators Sign USAID/USEA Sponsored MoU Reaffirming Commitment to Cooperation & Regional Network Planning

image credit: Courtesy of USEA
William Polen's picture
Senior Director, United States Energy Association

As Senior Director of the United States Energy Association, William L. Polen directs international energy projects supporting regional electric and natural gas network planning, infrastructure...

  • Member since 2020
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  • Aug 10, 2020

August 4th, 2020

Black Sea electric transmission system operators (TSOs) responsible for planning and dispatching the high voltage electricity grids in their countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) reaffirming their 16-year commitment to cooperate on regional network planning. Under the framework of the Black Sea Regional Transmission Planning Project (BSTP), the MOU pledges mutual cooperation and continued development of the region’s only common network planning and market simulation models used by members to identify critical infrastructure linking emerging wholesale electricity markets throughout the Black Sea region and with Europe.

Established in 2004 by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States Energy Association (USEA), and the TSOs of Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine, the BSTP provides a sustainable forum for training, network and market analysis, and infrastructure project support and promotion. It has provisioned the TSOs in Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova with essential network planning and market simulation software; provided 20,000 hours of training to Black Sea engineers in network modeling and economic analysis; and adopted more than a half dozen essential planning practices needed to harmonize planning methods in the region with those in Europe.

The project has performed multiple studies recommending transmission investment needed to increase the integration of renewable energy sources. It has estimated the cost and social welfare benefits of new transmission infrastructure linking national electricity markets on a regional basis and, it has recommended network investment needed to improve reliability to attract electricity intensive industrial development. It is currently supporting infrastructure projects linking markets in Georgia and Turkey; Georgia and Romania; and Armenia and Georgia. Its models and the expertise developed by participating engineers are being harnessed in one of the most ambitious projects undertaken since the end of the cold war – enabling Ukraine and Moldova to disconnect from the Russian dominated IPS/UPS synchronous zone and subsequently connect to the European synchronous zone of ENTSO-E.

The BSTP is one of six partnerships supported by USAID, USEA and electric and natural gas utilities to increase regional electricity and natural gas trade, improve electric power distribution system performance and strengthen cyber security in the Europe and Eurasia region.

For more information, visit the ETAG homepage.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 10, 2020

Interesting to read about-- thanks William. What do you think remain the biggest hurdles as this project moves forward? Or is it mostly in the clear with this MOU?

William Polen's picture
William Polen on Aug 11, 2020

Thanks for your interest, Matt. The region is not well connected with high voltage lines, leaving it susceptible to the malign influence of regional actors seeking to sow corruption and maintain dependence. The MoU provides the framework for cooperation to accelerate projects that will integrate the emerging markets of the Black Sea region with Europe.

William Polen's picture
Thank William for the Post!
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