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Our region was hit by storms that severely damaged the electricity transmission network in several countries this August. In Croatia, this caused more high impact blackouts. Consumption fell drastically, but the amount of energy produced remained unchanged, creating a surplus on the grid and putting the TSO in a difficult situation. What can operators do in this situation and how can energy producers benefit from it? Kornél Tóth, energy market expert, says virtual power plants could be the answer.

Stanislav Chvála, CEO of Nano Energies

The electricity network is highly exposed to increasingly frequent extreme weather conditions, and it is easy to damage transmission lines, for example in a major storm. In Croatia, there have been several incidents recently, with 27 transmission line poles damaged or toppled, and the network has been severely damaged. In such cases, the blackouts cause sudden power cuts, but the energy already generated is retained. This summer we have seen similar storms in Hungary, and with the growth of renewable energy sources, it is becoming increasingly easy for the grid to become unbalanced, so it is worth being prepared for events like the ones in Croatia.

Weather disruptions mainly affect the distribution infrastructure of the electricity grid, i.e. the transmission between generation and consumption. The system continues to produce energy, also because of the increasing share of renewables, but damaged transmission lines mean that there is no way to get this energy to consumers. When some of the users are suddenly disconnected from the grid, the resulting excess energy poses a significant risk. End-user devices are not fit to handle the surplus, which can damage them and lead to dangerous accidents. In the energy system, a balance between production and consumption must be maintained at all times and producers should be regulated accordingly.

A flexibility aggregator providers help to balance the grid by coordinating consumption and production, explains Kornél Tóth, Head of Nano Energies Hungary. „During the Croatian storm, we had to hold back our partners' production for 75 minutes to stabilise the system, which ultimately freed the grid from 14 MW of excess energy. However, despite the curtailment, our customers received an extra revenue of around €10,000 instead of a loss, while the load on the grid was reduced. This type of grid balancing ancillary service is also available in Hungary, so Hungarian producers or consumers can help balance the grid in similar cases, which also means a higher extra revenue stream for them than in Croatia" adds Kornél Tóth .

Flexibility aggregators, which act as a virtual power plant and access otherwise untapped energy resources, will play a key role in grid developments in the coming years. They help suppliers produce electricity when they get the best price and consumers to use electricity when it is cheapest.

"Producers are already compensated for being on standby to reduce or shut down plant output and receive additional revenue for the activation itself. The resulting revenue covers, and usually exceeds, the amount the plant would have earned by generating electricity," adds Kornél Tóth.

In Hungary, there are around 2 million cats and 3 million dogs living as pets, and we celebrate them at the beginning and end of August. But this month also marks the hundreds of thousands of orphaned pets who have been denied the comfort and peace of home. Mars, which distributes popular pet food brands such as Pedigree and Whiskas, has been committed for a long time to supporting homeless, stray pets, with a key focus on helping animal shelters and encouraging adoption - in line with its purpose to create a Better World for Pets

Would you like a furry friend? - Consider adopting one in the first place

In Hungary, most shelters are overcapacity, while the number of adoptions has fallen. Taking in or rescuing a shelter pet not only significantly improves the quality of life of the animal, but also helps the shelter by providing a place for another cat or dog in need. Another advantage of adoption is that the shelter staff know the animals in their care well, so they can help find a companion that best suits the prospective owner's home, personality and lifestyle. At present, black pets are the least likely to find a new home, and black cats have the worst chance of finding a new home. Many people still associate black cats with bad luck, even though a purring pet - regardless of its coat - can be a good thing for its owner.

The uplifting influence of cats and dogs: Both can bring joy to our lives

A survey conducted earlier this year as part of Whiskas' #Iamacatperson initiative found that the biggest benefit of having a cat is the daily companionship these independent and strong personality pets provide (76%), while nearly as many people believe that their proximity has a stress-relieving, calming effect (70%). The majority of cat owners also agree that having a pet has improved not only their quality of life, but also their mental health.

On the other hand, dogs are called man's best friend for a reason, and their companionship can also have a positive impact on their owners' wellbeing. As loyal pets, dogs never let down those they reward with their love. That's why our four-legged friends deserve to be celebrated on the approaching International World Dog Day, 26 August, and to find families for as many of them as possible.

"We believe that all pets deserve a loving home, which is why we place great emphasis on supporting and educating those who care for them. And the opportunity to help a shelter is now open to everyone, whether it's through financial supportort or volunteering," said Mihaela Negrescu, Senior Portfolio Manager from Mars.

Supporting responsible pet ownership, promoting pet-friendly office concept

One of Mars' objectives is to create a better world for pets, which includes - beside advocating for adoptions-supporting shelters and promoting pet-friendly offices, and educating owners. For more than 10 years, pets have been an integral part of the company's office life. Their presence has been proven to make the workplace more pleasant, increase productivity and reduce stress, and pets are happier and more balanced because they can spend their days close to their owners.

Mars is encouraging other organisations to follow their example and set up pet-friendly offices. To do this, it has put together a publicly available, free background resource with guides and best practices to make it easy to become a pet-friendly workplace.

Anyone who has been to the Sziget Festival knows that it's hard to choose from the many concerts and programmes, and that you can get tired of wandering between stages and venues. There are two things every group of friends needs at the festival: a meeting point from which to set off on a musical voyage of discovery, and a place to stop for a break between concerts to recharge their batteries. This year, the Lipton Iced Tea Sunshine Spot, next to the Europe Stage, will be the place to be for a refreshing ice tea or cocktail and a playful activity throughout the day.

The rooftop terrace is the ideal place for groups of friends to recharge their batteries in the sunshine, and the bar is the perfect place to try out the new sugar-free mango flavoured green tea. It's a great refreshment on its own, but guests can also try it in one of the iced tea-based alcoholic or non-alcoholic cocktails - like the Mango on the Beach or the Tea-Time Gimlet - as a cool and flavourful drink is the perfect way to enjoy a good conversation in the summer heat.

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