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Home » Power Talk » SLS unveils cutting-edge solutions for power substations to boost efficiency

SLS unveils cutting-edge solutions for power substations to boost efficiency

December 21, 2023 3:12 pm

SLS unveils cutting-edge solutions for power substations to boost efficiency

Implementing smart grid technologies can mitigate most of the upgrading and modernising of ageing power substation infrastructure.

Power substations play a crucial role in establishing a unified power distribution network. With advancements like automation and remote monitoring, operational efficiency has soared, addressing challenges and integrating renewable energy. However, cybersecurity measures are vital to protect critical infrastructure from increasing cyber threats.

System Level Solution (SLS) is leading the industry in providing solutions catering to hardware design and prototyping, software development, and manufacturing, with over two decades of expertise. This has ultimately benefited the power sector as a whole. Additionally, India has proactively addressed the impact of climate change on power substations, implementing resilient measures. Kumar Mukund details the power substation in a talk with EPR Magazine.

How does the role of power substations contribute to establishing a unified power distribution network, ensuring uniform pricing?

An electrical power substation links generating stations, transmission networks, distribution networks, and load centres. A step-up substation receives electric power from a nearby generating station at a lower voltage level. It increases the voltage level for power transmission at longer distances to reduce transmission losses. A step-down substation receives electric power from the transmission network at higher voltages and reduces the voltage to distribute electrical power at load centres. This helps in seamless electricity transfer between surplus and deficit regions, ensuring uniform pricing.

How have advanced automation and remote monitoring technologies transformed power substations’ operational efficiency and reliability?

Advanced automation and remote monitoring technologies can be leveraged to enhance the operational efficiency and reliability of power substations in India.

Earlier substations consisted of mainly mechanical components with little communication facility. Even fault recorders were capturing information mainly in the form of paper charts. Thus, reading and analysing such information took work. Lack of communication caused any maintenance or troubleshooting to be costly and lengthy, as the personnel had to be sent to substations that were often far away and hard to reach. With the advancement in automation and remote monitoring technologies like advanced microprocessors, intelligent electronic devices (IED), SCADA, human-machine interface (HMI), digital substations, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), data capturing and analysing has become far easier and faster. This helps in better asset utilisation and management.

How can India address the critical challenges associated with upgrading and modernising its ageing power substation infrastructure to meet the demands of a growing economy?

With the advancement in the addition of renewable energy and rapidly fluctuating energy demand, the pressure on already ageing power substation infrastructure has recently increased substantially. Some of the most critical challenges faced by the discoms today are how to supply 24X7 quality power to its consumers, integrate renewable energy and EV charging infrastructure to the grid, reduce AT and C loss further, and the demand side management (DSM). Implementing various smart grid technologies that utilise advanced communication and sensing technologies to monitor the flow of electricity and dynamically manage power distribution can mitigate most of these challenges.

How can innovative technologies and approaches effectively integrate intermittent renewable energy sources into power substations and the broader grid infrastructure?

Most renewable generation sources like solar or wind are intermittent. Hence, a smoothening mechanism is required to integrate it into the local and national grid. Some new innovative technologies that can help to achieve this are smart grid solutions, including battery storage, smart metering, vehicle-to-grid (V2G), ToD tariff, data analytics, artificial intelligence, IoT, etc. Reactive power compensation at the generation end will ensure optimum utilisation of the T&D infrastructure. The energy storage solution (battery storage, pumped hydro, etc.) will absorb and store the excess power from renewables (if demand is less during that period) and supply during peak demand periods. Power substations in India are fortified with robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard critical infrastructure.

What are the key cybersecurity measures and guidelines have the government implemented for safeguarding power substations and critical infrastructure in the power sector?

Power substations are one of the most important infrastructures in India, making it a prime target of cyber attackers. A cyber-attack can be in various forms like website intrusion, website defacement, phishing, malicious code, unauthorised network scanning, ransomware attacks, data breaches, etc. Recently, such attacks have increased substantially, necessitating us to implement robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard this critical infrastructure.

In 2021, the government issued the CEA (Cyber Security in Power Sector) Guidelines 2021, which comprise 14 articles for addressing cybersecurity threats in the power sector. The Grid Code now mandates regular cyber security audits by all users (NLDC, RLDCs, SLDCs, CTUs, STUs, power exchanges, SNAs, etc.). It further states that responsible entities must secure their power infrastructure assets through updates, patching, testing, configuration security, and additional controls. It has further mandated power utilities to include specified cyber security clauses in their procurement bids, source-critical systems from trusted sources only, and have products cyber-tested in case no trusted source is available. Exchanging threat intel promptly, collaborating and sharing best practices through protected platforms, and conducting joint exercises or drills are some ways to protect India’s power infrastructure.

How has India addressed the increasing vulnerability to natural disasters, specifically focusing on the impact of climate change on power substations?

India is vulnerable to many natural disasters, such as heat waves, droughts, heavy rains, flash floods, windstorms, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches etc. These incidents have increased substantially in the last 15-20 years due to the adverse impacts of climate change. Particularly, the frequency and intensity of cyclonic wind have increased manifolds in the coastal areas of Odisha, West Bengal (WB), Andhra Pradesh (AP), Tamil Nadu (TN) and Gujarat. The Ministry of Power (MoP) in 2020 constituted a task force on cyclone resilient, robust electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure. As per the task force report, the major impact is in the form of damage to towers/poles of T&D lines, damage to substation equipment & structure, flooding of sub-stations, snapping of conductors, etc. After studying the various best practices used worldwide (including the USA, Australia, EU, etc.), the task force has recommended many strategies to make T&D infrastructure more resilient in our country. Some of them are standard operating procedure (SOP), advance preparedness measures, early warning systems, emergency preparedness plan, how to shorten restoration time, detailed Disaster Management Plan (DMP), etc.

Spokesperson: Kumar Mukund, Regional Business Development Head- System Level Solutions (SLS)

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