Smart Grid a weapon to fight blackouts

Smart Grid a weapon to fight blackoutsOpen collaboration across the industry to find cost-effective solutions is need of the hour to fight blackouts in IndiaSrikanth Chandrasekaran, Standards Senior Manager for India, IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA)In multiple ways, the developing smartgrid figures to help India avoid and/or limit the impact of blackouts. Technology and standards development in a range of areas is intended, in part, to help render traditional systems of power generation, transmission and distribution grow more efficient, reliable and resilient.Some of these technical issues that frequently lead to blackouts in India will be avoided by closely synchronising demand and response across the grid; integrating power producers and utilities with business and residential customers; and building a heightened capability for monitoring and automated event response. For example, the smartgrid stands to help with one particularly vexing local problem: transmission and distribution losses (estimated at between 10-15 per cent in India). By building a more efficient grid, such losses can be reduced, requiring less generation to serve peak demands; thereby, averting some blackouts that otherwise might occur.Of course, some blackouts will still occur. For instance, the smartgrid will not prevent towers being knocked out during a monsoon. Here again, though, grid modernisation and advanced applications such as microgrids and integration of distributed generators can deliver valuable benefits. The developing smartgrid can help limit the range of business and residential users that are impacted during outages and help power be backed up and running more quickly to the affected.Standards and technology development in areas such as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), distributed generation, microgrids, phasor measurement units (PMUs) and cyber security figure to be of prime interest to India’s smartgrid stakeholders as they are fertile ground for the innovations that could dramatically improve outage management.AMI Smart meters, communications systems, meter data management systems and other AMI are critical elements for eliminating or mitigating against blackouts. From intelligence gleaned from smart meters, for example, utilities can help home in on the particular customer sectors that have lost power so that repair personnel can be more precisely and efficiently dispatched, leading to quicker service restoration. Among the more than 100 active or in-development IEEE standards that are intended to support smartgrid functionality are several that are specifically focused on AMI, including:

IEEE 1701™ “Standard for Optical Port Communication Protocol to Complement the Utility Industry End Device Data Tables” and IEEE 1702™ “Standard for Telephone Modem Communication Protocol to Complement the Utility Industry End Device Data Tables,” which define criteria required for transporting data between multi-vendor end devices such as handheld readers, laptop or portable computers and master station systems, and
IEEE 1703™ “Standard for Local Area Network/Wide Area Network (LAN/WAN) Node Communication Protocol to Complement the Utility Industry End Device Data Tables,” which defines uniform, managed, adaptive and secure network data and message delivery across utility meters, home appliances, communications technology and other devices.
IEEE 1701, IEEE 1702 and IEEE 1703 work together to support a “plug-and-play” environment of interchangeable AMI, which will be necessary to maximise cost efficiency and flexibility in building out capabilities for outage management in the smartgrid.Distributed GenerationDistributed generation sources of power—especially renewables—is of terrific interest among India’s smartgrid developers because of the country’s National Smartgrid Mission, “Quality Power on Demand for All by 2027.”  An estimated third of India’s huge population today has no reliable access to grid power. So, adding so many more users in the next 14 years will demand a significant expansion of generation sources, given that power demand in India often already outpaces supply.Renewable sources of distributed generation are particularly attractive to India’s smartgrid stakeholders because of their potential to keep in check the nation’s carbon footprint and because of their long-term cost-effectiveness relative to non-renewable sources. (Already, solar is cost-competitive with diesel as a backup power source in India.) The issue with renewable sources is their unpredictability—the intermittency of when the sun shines and when the wind blows must be accounted for if grid reliability and stability, power quality and consumer and worker safety are to be preserved. This is the basic challenge for which the IEEE 1547™ family of standards has been developed.The base standard—IEEE 1547 “Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems”—is a globally leveraged reference for performance, operation, testing, safety considerations and maintenance parameters related to interconnection of distributed generation technologies of 10 MegaVolt Ampere (MVA) or less at the point of common coupling with the grid. Since its initial publication in 2003, distributed generation technologies and applications have matured, and lessons learned through global deployments have informed expansion of a series of “dot” extension standards to enhance capabilities and address emerging market needs:

IEEE 1547.1™-2005 “Standard Conformance Test Procedures for Equipment Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems;”
IEEE 1547.2™-2008 “Application Guide for IEEE Std 1547, IEEE Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems;”
IEEE 1547.3™-2007 “Guide for Monitoring, Information Exchange, and Control of Distributed Resources Interconnected with Electric Power Systems;”
IEEE 1547.4™-2011 “Guide for Design, Operation, and Integration of Distributed Resource Island Systems with Electric Power Systems,” and
IEEE 1547.6™-2007 “Recommended Practice for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems Distribution Secondary Networks.”
Development continues, on additional extension standards and amendments, and utilities, vendors, independent power producers, regulators and other stakeholders globally are being marshaled to consider a full revision of the IEEE 1547 base standard. This work provides a timely opportunity for India’s smartgrid developers to collaborate with like-minded professionals from around the world, to share expertise and experience and to work to see that India’s particular needs with regard to interconnection of distributed generators and outage management are reflected in forthcoming global smartgrid standards.MicrogridsMicrogrids typically cluster multiple distributed-generation technologies—both renewable and non-renewable sources, such as fuel cells, solar thermal generating stations, photovoltaic fields, wind farms, diesel, natural-gas-fired turbines and/or micro turbines. They can be operated in connection with or in isolation from the traditional grid. This flexibility makes them an especially valuable application in the area of outage management as a microgrid could be configured so as to disconnect from the grid and keep power flowing to one set of users while an outage impacts another.

IEEE 1547.4 details alternative approaches for the design, operation and integration of distributed-resource island systems. Two in-development IEEE standards also are intended to support intensified, cost-effective rollout of microgrids
IEEE P2030.2 “Draft Guide for the Interoperability of Energy Storage Systems Integrated with the Electric Power Infrastructure,” which is intended to define technical characteristics for discrete and hybrid energy storage systems and requirements for their grid interconnection
IEEE P2030.3 “Draft Standard for Test Procedures for Electric Energy Storage Equipment and Systems for Electric Power Systems Applications,” which is intended to set forth standardised test procedures for verifying conformance of storage technologies and applications with interconnection requirements. PMUsPMUs and synchrophasor technologies are another powerful tool for outage management, primarily in that they can be used to help limit localised disturbances from cascading into wider-scale, regional outages. With PMUs and synchrophasors, utilities can monitor conditions across their own and other systems and perform voltage/volt-ampere reactive (VAR) control to accelerate service restoration.IEEE C37.118 “Standard for Synchrophasors for Power Systems” is a key standard in this area. Its role is to support interoperability of multi-vendor PMUs and their connection into regional and national networks so as to gather data on current state and stability and feed it into Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Energy Management Systems (EMS).CybersecurityWhen it comes to grid cyber security, the tendency is to think primarily of external attacks — attacks from the outside of the grid coming in. However, the vast majority of security breaches are sourced internally—an accidental misconfiguration or some rogue event perpetrated by a disgruntled ex-employee, for example, who has found a back door into electronic devices. Cyber security is typically most affordably and effectively, considered and implemented from the initiation of a grid-modernisation project, as opposed to engineering a solution into an already completed or in-progress initiative. A host of standards are already in place to provide smartgrid developers with guidance in this area. IEEE 1686 “Standard for Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs) Cyber Security Capabilities” and IEEE C37.230 “Guide for Protective Relay Applications to Distribution Lines” are both designed to help ensure that communications are both sufficiently open and secure in smartgrid deployments. And IEEE PC37.240 “Draft Standard for Cyber Security Requirements for Substation Automation, Protection and Control Systems” is in development to define sound engineering practices for trust and assurance of data in motion, data at rest and incident response in automation, protection and control systems.ConclusionIEEE standards will continue to be crafted and refined to address global market needs around outage management and other smartgrid applications as they develop over the coming years. In fact, collaboration sometimes commences long before a standards-development project is ever formally launched.For example, global industry is beginning to collaborate through IEEE around the possibilities to find a way to use DC electricity directly from renewable energy sources, eliminating wasteful conversions of AC to DC and DC to AC. What changes might such an innovation require across outlet design, switches and breakers, distribution equipment, power supplies, voltage regulators, safety equipment, conductor design and insulation, whole building power-conversion systems, control systems, transformers etc.? What benefits might it deliver in terms of eliminating blackouts, given that such conversions translate into high power losses, particularly in serving the most power-hungry customers like the data centres that are so prevalent for India’s giant IT industry?Through open collaboration and standards development, utilities, manufacturers, regulators and academia are building on each other’s good ideas and finding cost-effective, shared solutions to the world’s smartgrid challenges—such as fighting blackouts in India.

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