Jerom de Haan over werken bij TenneT

Cross-border balancing

Jerom de Haan began his career as an international trainee at TenneT Netherlands and now, through a trainee position in Germany, he has gotten his dream job: cross-border balancing. ‘I can now cooperate internationally with other Transmission System Operators.’ But what are you doing and what makes you a good balancer?’ Jerom talks about engineering, energy policy and passion.

‘That I’m working at TenneT is the fault of an old professor of mine’ says Jerom with a laugh. During his study Sustainable Energy Technology at Technical University Eindhoven, he had a professor who worked at TenneT. ‘Professor Kling gave inspirational lectures. That’s why I got interested in the world of TenneT: electricity on a high-voltage level.’

You have to fall in love with this job

At first, Jerom was totally fascinated by wind energy. Later on, the integration of wind power into the electricity system became his interest followed by cross-border cooperation to balance the system. ‘What happens when a national Transmission System Operator (TSO) works cross-border with a TSO from a different country? That’s what I’m currently working on.’

Level playing field

Jerom earnestly tells about the challenges when two countries cooperate for power balancing. ‘Each country follows its own in-depth approach how to balance its area. Consequently, different power reserve procurement, activation strategies, and remuneration (payment) conditions between countries are noticeable. At first it seems like a great idea to get reserve power from another country because it’s cheaper. Cross-border cooperation has its advantages – it’s cheaper, energy efficiency – however, lack of harmonisation between the balancing philosophies in Europe, each with its local rules and mechanisms, doesn’t lead to optimisation. To a certain extent, it only generates some cash flows. ‘Harmonisation is the key for a level playing field’.

After finishing his research project, he discovered the possibility of following the international trainee programme. For Jerom it was an interesting follow-up, partly due to the possibility of doing an assignment at TenneT Germany in Bayreuth. ‘Cultural differences, what does it really mean?’

Leaving engineering behind

Jerom started his traineeship at TenneT Netherlands at the Customer and Markets department. As a trainee, you build an intern network, get to know the company and meet stakeholders. Jerom’s question: ‘How can I ensure that I’ve got a balancing market design where market parties are correctly incentivised to follow their energy programmes? ‘I didn’t only consider the technical aspects but also incorporated financial and strategic aspects. There are different players in this field, each with their own interests. It gave me a broader insight in the work environment of a TSO. ‘With this knowledge he left TenneT Netherlands and switched to the Customer and Markets department of TenneT Germany for his next assignment. But the interpretation of his task was different due to a different legal and regulatory framework. ‘In the specifics, the German market is completely different. They don’t just have one TSO like in the Netherlands, but four. This gives a different dynamic.’

During this part of his traineeship, his dream job became available: cross-border balancing. He applied and got the job. ‘I really appreciate the support I got from TenneT Netherlands. If they truly believe in you, they’re willing to think further ahead and to support you to get to the next level. So, now I’m fulfilling my dream job and I’m still attending the classes of the trainee programme to further develop my competences.’

Energy policy

‘As a balancer my days are filled with research, compromising and travelling. I speak a lot with my associates abroad about the future target model of balancing. European law requires all TSOs in Continental Europe to set a single European balancing market,’ In order to do so, Jerom travels a lot. He protects and promotes TenneT’s interests internationally. For meetings he travels from Scandinavia to Spain. He’s discovered that each country has its own way of thinking. ‘Several TSOs are still linked to electricity companies with different (financial) interests. It’s all justified, but TenneT wants to come to an international level playing field for balancing.

'The political game is intensive, but also interesting. What are the hidden interests? What is the real motive, the second agenda? Is the motivation security of supply, market facilitation, or even financial strategy?’ Jerom’s task is to internally determine TenneT’s strategic position and then to externally bring it into practice.

Social skills

In order to get everyone facing the same direction, Jerom is constantly seeking to strengthen his position. ‘I’m constantly looking for allies, for TSOs with similar views to TenneT. In my opinion, that’s the way to create a strong position together and a solid base.’ Social skills are very important in this job. Listening carefully and building a basis for trust and patience are crucial, Jerom explains. Sometimes this is extra challenging due to cultural differences. But the most importing thing is this: ‘You have to fall in love with this job, otherwise you can’t persist.’