Anand Menon, CTO - Eng Tech Energy Management ASEAN, Siemens
Evolution in the Energy Chain
Long-term drivers like growth for energy demand, need for replacement of aging and outdated infrastructure and the challenge to create a sustainable energy system are laying focus on the means to systematically optimise electric power grids through an intelligent network infrastructure.
The energy chain is evolving into a multifaceted, electrically and mechanically well meshed network with many new participants. The outcome would be an efficiently automated system, which is digitally fully empowered to seamlessly serve energy transactions across borders, in open, transparent markets operating under new digitally-enabled regulatory frameworks. There is a disruptive shift from topology-based to customer-centric, transaction-based business models. Management of such an Energy Grid is becoming exceedingly more complex and challenging. Networks are expanding at a much faster pace than even a few years ago and demand a high degree of individual monitoring and control. Integration of renewable
and distributed energy coupled with weak infrastructures are key aspects that are being addressed.
Utilities have since long been using several applications to support transmission and distribution planning and operations, customer support and billing, asset management, and market participation. Since more than a decade, there has been a collection of new applications such as Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Feeder Automation (FA), Advanced DMS etc., which are categorized as Smart Grid applications. The challenge for utilities is when and how to deploy each of these Smart Grid applications to return the most economic benefit to the organization while minimizing the negative impact on utility operations. With limited IT/IS budgets and staff, stake-holders are forced to choose which information systems to upgrade, replace and add to obtain Smart Grid benefits as they upgrade their distribution networks.
Drivers of transformation: Distributed Energy Systems and Digitalization
Distributed energy systems and digitalization enforce each other and are shaping future energy systems which pose new challenges as well as opportunities.
Customers seeking out two primary services, reliability and resiliency have good reason to opt for a micro grid. Distributed generation close to demand reduces transmission losses and use of renewables minimizes dependency on fossil fuel and reduces CO2 emissions. If distributed generation and consumption in a certain area are integrated into one system, reliability of supply is increased significantly.
Digitalization is fundamentally changing societies and economies. Digital twins and simulation software are helping design better and more resilient electric power grids. Transparency about generation and consumption, costs, and power quality are becoming increasingly important as a result.
The goal is to put the active customer (prosumer) at the centre of the business – with the help of systems deeply linked on different levels (Fig. 1).
In the ASEAN region, there is a growing awareness on the needs and necessities for Digital Grids with implementation of several projects, especially in Automated Metering and Infrastructure, in varied stages of progress. Digital substation pilots are being conducted to demonstrate robustness and reduced lead-times while a single platform approach is being recommended for energy management solutions.
Digital twins and simulation software are helping design better and more resilient electric power grids
There are also plans afoot to improve SAIDI and SAIFI through feeder automation technologies. Focus areas are depicted in (Fig. 2).
Planning the future energy supply means defining optimum trade-offs between reliability, sustainability, and costs. The grids of the future have to be easily adaptable to new challenges in order to manage our changing energy systems.
The Siemens integrated platform strategy combining the grid control (OT) platform and the grid applications (IT) platform offers added value to utilities through various use cases. Using smart meter information in OT platform helps grid operators to identify network problems before receiving customer calls. That enables faster outage detection and restoration time. On the other hand, the IT platform utilizes outage information from the OT platform to notify the consumers pro-actively about the outage situation, restoration activities, expected duration via e.g. web-channel or mobile app.
Furthermore, the IT platform also offers an analytics environment based on state of the art technology, and advanced analytics applications to leverage more value from the existing data.
In order to enable cross vertical use cases, new business models, and new service offerings to consumers and prosumers in a networked ecosystem with multiple infrastructure domains, Siemens has launched a cloud-based, open protocol operating system for Internet of Things termed MindSphere.
Another technology with disruptive potential is Blockchain which can be used for a variety of applications, ranging from recording transactions between business partners to peer-to-peer ( P2P) energy trading in and between distribution grids ( cells) thus leading the transformation to a robust non-hierarchical energy system.
Nature of new businesses
With the increase in renewable sources in the energy mix and advent of Smart Grid, there has been substantial impact in businesses serving the electricity value chain from generation to consumption.
At a generation level, there are a host of renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar PV, solar concentrated, biomass, biogas, geo-thermal with their interfaces to the grid such as power electronics.
There also is a great demand for high efficiency fossil-fired plants such as combined cycle natural gas, apart from equipment to reduce CO2 emissions such as flue gas filtration.
In transmission, HVDC and FACTS play a major role along with grid strengthening equipment such as series and shunt capacitor banks, phase shifting transformers and reactors. Off-shore platforms with switchgear and transformers also play a role in connecting the renewable production to the mainland.
In distribution, the impact is seen in the requirement of advanced distribution management systems, substation automation and feeder automation systems. To accommodate renewables, storage systems are increasingly in demand. Automated Metering Infrastructures (AMI) are being rapidly deployed along with associated communication technologies to increase transparency in the grid which also serves as the foundation for applications such as Time of Use Tariff rates, Pre-payment schemes, theft detection, remote connect/disconnect, and Demand response applications.
Utilities are embarking on OT/ IT integration and data analytics to leverage upon the large amounts of data collected and to have a single integrated platform addressing multiple applications.
In consumption, energy efficiency has emerged as a priority to optimize energy usage especially in markets where energy government subsidies are gradually getting lifted and the electricity price passed on to the consumer. This has resulted in focus on buildings that consume upwards of 40 percent energy. Green and smart buildings need a robust building management system along with surveillance and fire security. Higher efficiency variable speed electric drives and chillers besides lighting appliances are sought to improve efficiency and reduce consumption. Residential consumer awareness is enhanced through Web Portals or In-home displays.
Words of caution.
With Information and Communication technologies penetrating down to the distribution networks, growing interconnections create more points for potential cyber attacks to critical infrastructure such as substations, micro grids, energy management systems, etc. It is highly recommended to implement cyber security controls from a holistic perspective encompassing people, processes and products (3 P) principles.
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