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Home » Opinion » Modular substations are critical to achieving carbon-neutral ambitions

Modular substations are critical to achieving carbon-neutral ambitions

May 5, 2023 3:56 pm

Modular substations are critical to achieving carbon-neutral ambitions
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The below analysis discusses the significance and needs for digital and modular substations. We will also delve into how it provides a scalable solution, wit h benefits including easy maintenance and faster installation times. We also explore the modularity of primary equipment and co-locating storage in modular substations.

The world’s energy landscape is rapidly evolving, with an increasing focus on renewable energy sources and achieving carbon-neutral goals. To accommodate these changes, power grids must be more flexible and efficient, requiring new substation designs that can handle the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources while ensuring a reliable and resilient power supply. This has led to the development of digital substations and modular substations.

Digital and modular substations are critical technologies to help countries, utilities, and industries transition to a more sustainable energy future. With their advanced features and flexibility, they will play a crucial role in ensuring a reliable, resilient, and cost-effective power supply while reducing the carbon footprint of energy generation.

India aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2070, while utilities and industries have announced targets ranging from 2035 to 2050. To achieve these targets, more renewable energy will be added to the grid. However, this will lead to a loss of moment inertia in the system, requiring substation technology to manage the demand and supply gap in power.

The Importance of Substations
Substations are essential as they act as a bridge between generation and transmission or transmission and distribution. Conventionally, substations are fixed, but now and in the future, substations need to be modular to accommodate the addition of more renewable energy. The new substation design should be scalable and modular, with the ability to add modules in terms of the base while ensuring the reliability and resiliency of the power system.

Digital substations are the next generation of power substations that leverage advanced digital technologies, including communication, sensors, and automation. They allow for real-time monitoring and control of substation equipment, offering better reliability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness than traditional substations. Digital substations enable power utilities to better manage power quality, reduce equipment failure risk, and improve operational efficiency.

It will help scale up the substation in a less confined space, allowing for faster engineering installation and commissioning of substation automation equipment, panels, and wiring. Digital substation fibre can be done quickly, reducing the number of panels and junction boxes and improving installation and commissioning time. With inbuilt sensors, auxiliaries, and asset performance management systems, the digital substation can provide immediate information about the substation, equipment, transformers, switchgear, and disconnector.

Multi-Purpose Use of Substations
The space in and around the substation can be used for multi-purpose, including electric vehicle charging infrastructure, co-locating storage, and green hydrogen production. Hydrogen can be used for hydrogen fuel cell-based storage, which can be used for electric mobility and can feed back power to the system where there is a power shortfall. Redesigning existing substations and creating new substation designs are crucial for accommodating new sources of energy, new types of loads, and storage. By simulating the scaling of augmentation of the substation, we can achieve all the different technologies and scale up the system.

Importance of modular substations in achieving carbon-neutral goals
Modular substations are designed to be scalable and flexible to accommodate the changing energy landscape. They are built using pre-fabricated modules, which can be assembled on-site to meet the specific power needs of the area. They can also be easily upgraded as energy demand increases, making them an ideal solution for countries, utilities, and industries looking to achieve carbonneutral goals.

The need for modular substations
Traditionally, substations were fixed and built for a specific capacity. However, with the growing demand for renewable energy, substations must be modular. As the renewable power capacity increases, the moment of inertia in the system decreases, making it challenging to manage the demand and supply gap. Modular substations can manage the intermittency in renewable energy and bridge the gap between generation and transmission or transmission and distribution.

The importance of scalability
Scalability is a critical factor in achieving renewable power goals, and it is essential to plan for the future while building a modular substation. Starting with a substation capacity that matches the current demand is essential, but it’s also crucial to consider future requirements. The modular design of a substation allows for the addition of capacity in the future, making it possible to scale up gradually as demand grows. This approach helps reduce the initial capital investment while ensuring the substation can handle the future load.

It’s worth noting that adding capacity in terms of base modules is one of many ways to scale up a substation. The primary equipment, such as transformers and switchgear, can also be designed modularly, making it easy to add or remove components as required. This modular design approach allows for easy expansion and ensures that the substation can meet the evolving needs of the grid.

To achieve the renewable power goal of 500 gigawatts by 2030, utilities and industries need to start with a certain amount of renewable power and add to it yearly. Therefore, the substations, whether collecting or cooling, need to be scalable. We can start with a substation capacity of 500-1000MW and add a capacity of 500 MW every year. Adding modules in terms of the base while maintaining the reliability and resiliency of the power system is crucial.

The modularity of primary equipment
Modularity in primary equipment refers to adding or replacing equipment in a substation without affecting the entire system. The demand for fast and efficient power evacuation is increasing with the integration of renewable energy sources. Therefore, the modularity of primary equipment, such as transformers and switchgear, plays a vital role in ensuring the reliability and efficiency of the entire system.

Modular transformers are designed to be installed in a standard substation container, allowing effortless transportation and installation. They can be combined with other modular transformers to increase the substation’s capacity. Additionally, modular switchgear can be designed to fit in a compact space, allowing for more switchgear to be installed within a substation. Not just the primary equipment, but transformers and switchgear, whether gas or air insulated, must go modular. As more renewable energy is added to the grid, it must be evacuated faster. The substations need to be scalable accordingly to prevent the power source from being ready but unable to evacuate the power.

Co-Locating Storage
Modular substations can also co-locate storage, such as utility-scale storage, battery energy storage, or connected to pumped hydro storage. This will provide a reliable and resilient power system and help achieve carbon-neutral goals. Modular substations are crucial in achieving carbon-neutral goals by managing the intermittency in renewable energy sources and bridging the gap between generation and transmission or transmission and distribution. The primary equipment, transformers, and switchgear must be modular, and scalability and reliability are crucial for a resilient power system. Co-locating storage can also help achieve carbonneutral goals.

Substation technology ensures a reliable and resilient power supply as the world moves towards renewable energy and carbon-neutral goals. Two critical technologies, digital and modular substations, can help countries, utilities, and industries transition to a more sustainable energy future. Digital substations leverage advanced technologies for real-time monitoring and control, while modular substations are scalable and flexible, accommodating the changing energy landscape. They offer many benefits, such as faster installation times, improved reliability, and easier maintenance, making them an ideal solution for achieving carbonneutral goals. With their unique features, these technologies can play a crucial role in creating a more sustainable future for our planet.

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