On April 11, around 30 interested students from the joined student chapters of Berlin and Magdeburg went on a field trip to 50Hertz Transmission GmbH. After boarding the S5 to the station Hoppegarten and a short bus ride, the group arrived at the substation in Neuenhagen. After passing the security check and receiving visitor passes, the group entered the main building and was led into a conference room where some refreshment in the form of table water and fresh coffee was waiting. The reception was followed by several presentations, given by representatives of different departments. The first presentation introduced the company 50Hertz in general. 50Hertz is one of the big four german transmission operators and supplies around 18 million people.
With around 1000 employees, it is also one of the biggest electricity exporters to germany’s european neighbors. The second talk was mathematical in it’s nature and was about market modelling at 50Hertz. Market modelling includes predictions about grid development, about the kind of powerlines that will be needed in the future, but also short-term prediction of grid load within the next hours. Mathematically, market modelling comes down to solving huge optimization problems. 50Hertz uses a joint market model that was developed at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The resulting system has 12 million equations with 8 million variables and needs 2 to 3 days on a server with 8 cores and 256 gigabyte of RAM to be solved. Last but not least, there was a presentation about system stability. Operating a power grid, one has to deal with stability of the grid regarding lightning strikes, switching overvoltages, and frequency changes, for example. After the presentations were finished, the group was invited to lunch. Strengthened by the tomato-noodle soup and the sandwiches, the group continued to the historical voltage operation room which nowadays serves as a museum. After equipping everyone with safety hats, the group was given a tour of the actual substation, where all common frequencies of 110 kV, 230 kV and 380 kV are operated. The tour concluded the field trip and the group made their way back to Berlin, where some of the students let the day come to an end with cake and coffee.