Industry Analysis

Why automate substation?

Experts talk on why automation substation becomes necessity in power sector

The Indian power system is one of the largest and fastest expanding systems in the world. The power system works under several constraints which need to be effectively managed to ensure reliability. The digital revolution contributing to the implementation of smarter grids has proven to be invaluable towards making our grids resilient. The Unified Load Despatch Centres at National, Regional and State levels allow for systematic operation of the networks in an age of a Unified Grid. The distribution networks are also rapidly expanding with the Government of India’s commitment for 24×7 power to all its citizens. There is a need to provide reliable uninterrupted power to our large urban centres which have become centres of economic activity. “Automation in distribution grids is a pre-requisite for ensuring reliable power to the consumers as it not only provides greater visibility of the real-time condition of the network but also allows to reconfigure the network in case of an outage. We have seen large investments under Ministry of Power’s programs such as R-APDRP and IPDS. The SCADA DMS projects under R-APDRP need to be extended to cover the next level of cities and also we need to provide more Fault Passage Indicators in our secondary networks,” briefs R. K. Chugh, Vice President – Digital Grid Business Unit, Siemens Ltd.

“There is huge requirement of automation in power sector because it provides the facility to integrate the power generation and transmission processes with business units. Today more than 20 per cent electricity in India is lost because of transmission and distribution. Existing distribution systems in India have certain innate inefficiencies due to legacy issues. Since most systems are monitored manually it leads to maintenance taking place only amidst breakdowns. “Automation is necessary to guarantee reliable and complete power system and usage information that can facilitate trend forecasting or help the utility in better analysis and planning,” Nitin Gupta, General Manager Pursuits, System Business, Schneider Electric Systems India Pvt Ltd.

India’s power sector is one of the most diversified in the world. Currently this industry is undergoing critical changes. Indian market is slowly diverting towards the control and automation techniques ensuring that the process industry has the right mix of technologies that will bring growth in the future.

Gupta adds, “There is a need of modernisation for automation as well as for the equipment for the aged plants as there are few stringent global emission norms and carbon footprint.”

Electrical power consumption continues to grow at a rapid place in today’s world and it therefore becomes very important to efficiently and smartly manage power distribution and consumption.

Briefing on why automation has become necessity in power sector Rajiv Kumar, Director – Marketing (ES – India), Eaton Power Quality Pvt Ltd, “Automation enables smart grids that can control and monitor power to minimise losses, improve reliability and productivity, manage demand smartly and cost-effectively and enable fact-based future-capacity planning.”

Factors that will fuel opportunities for substation automation
Substation automation is the cutting edge technology in electrical engineering. It means having an intelligent, interactive power distribution network. Updating substation automation offers the opportunity to reduce operational and maintenance costs, increasing plant productivity with the aid of enhanced schemes as well as condition monitoring for circuit breakers, power transformers, etc. Station level systems are easy to use and to adapt to customer specific requirements

Substation automation helps in increased performance and reliability of electrical protection, advanced disturbance and event recording capabilities, aiding in detailed electrical fault analysis, display of real time substation information in a control center, remote switching and advanced supervisory control, increased integrity and safety of the electrical power network including advanced interlocking functions and advanced automation functions like intelligent load-shedding.

Substation automation in India is the need of the hour, believes Gupta. He says, “Given the country’s emphasis on creating large scale renewable energy capacity and smart cities, aged power infrastructure need to be updated to cope with the surge in demand for distributed energy resources. Investments in substation and feeder automation technologies are expected to increase given the need to improve reliability as well as integrate new distributed generation (DG) resources into the transmission and distribution grid network.”
Majority of existing substations in India requires manual management which can have huge cost impacts and productivity losses especially during breakdowns. “Lack of data on the health and power consumption trends of the equipment hinders smart demand management or accurately forecasting capacity. Substation automation offers a great opportunity to bridge these gaps,” says Kumar.

As per Chugh, availability of uninterrupted and quality power is considered to be a norm rather than an exception in today’s age by commercial, industrial and domestic customers. Also, the utilities need to function in a cost-competitive manner with a high degree of efficiency. This calls for newer technologies such as substation automation that forms an important component of the solutions for investments by the power utility.

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