Making smart grids possible: Distribution automation for a failproof, diversified energy grid

In July 2021, the European Commission announced new ambitious targets for green energy. By 2030, 40% of all the energy consumed in Europe should be generated renewably. While this is great for the planet, it adds another layer of complexity to energy grid management. The solution? Smart grids. Here, Johan van der Veen, an account manager specialising in energy at remote monitoring and control expert Ovarro, explains how distribution automation makes smart grids possible.

With rapid diversification and rising customer demand, these are challenging times for grid managers. The transition to solar, wind, and wave power means that energy production is as changeable as the weather quite literally. This is compounded by growing demand for energy thanks to electric vehicles (EVs) and electric heating.

As a result, the energy distribution landscape is changing. Rather than the traditional top-down structure of one producer to many customers, now there is a shifting dynamic of energy being fed back and forth as usage peaks and troughs.

But, if supply and demand don’t align, it can lead to higher rate of power loss or unavailability incidents. Nobody wants a power failure, especially with heavy fines and public opinion on the line.

All this means that energy grids need to work harder and, without huge amounts of investment in extra infrastructure, the easiest way to achieve this is to make them more efficient smarter, even. Datawatt, now part of Ovarro, has been working on making grids smarter since 1977 well before the term smart grid even existed with distribution automation technologies.

Work smarter not harder

Distribution automation covers the final part of the energy network, between the last station and customers’ homes and businesses. While in the past this section of the grid has been unmanaged apart from metres, recent years have seen a trend towards extending monitoring and control activities to this low voltage side.

Smart grids rely on monitoring equipment to collect data and analyse it. All this information can be used to predict problems, or identify them quickly once they do occur, helping grid operators take preventative or remedial action.

In layman’s terms, an electricity grid is like a chain of cables a failure in one link means the whole chain doesn’t work. Smart grids can automatically identify and isolate the fault location, remotely switching gear so customers are supplied from another part of the grid.

Previously, grid engineers would have had to drive between distribution stations until they found the one with the fault. Smart grids with remote monitoring capabilities streamline this task so that maintenance teams can go directly to the source of the problem, reducing outage duration.

Solutions for smart grids

Ovarro offers remote monitoring and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems designed for distribution grids. The Datawatt Smart Grid (DSG) series of remote telemetry units (RTUs) operates with flexibility and security in mind, adhering to European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS) security standards. The DSG operates on Linux, the modern open-source platform known for reliability and stability.

Ovarro RTUs like the DSG collect and manage data, before making it available to other systems for processing and analysing. As well as RTUs, Ovarro assembles cabinets that include a combination of its own products and third party hardware, offering complete solutions that are quick and easy to install in the field.

Johan van der Veen

For smaller operators, there’s the Datawatt Stream webscada, a central system and web portal that collects data in real-time and makes it immediately available on digital devices. Ideal for controlling different locations and processes, this easy to use system ensures worry-free management and maintenance. Furthermore, the data can also be imported into the customer’s central system, so everything is available in one place.

It’s access to data that makes grids smart. Therefore, RTUs and SCADA systems are the building blocks of modern smart grids, collecting and analysing the large amounts of process data necessary for faster, and better, decision making.

As the energy sector comes to rely more heavily on renewable energy generation, in accordance with European climate targets, more effective distribution management will become essential. Automation offers one solution, with RTUs like the DSG series able to collect, analyse and act on data, helping to prevent power outages and resolve any faults quickly.

For more information on remote monitoring for energy grids, head to Ovarro’s website.

The author is Johan van der Veen, an account manager specialising in energy at remote monitoring and control expert Ovarro.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

FEATURED IoT STORIES

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, iot home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more
RECENT ARTICLES

Nozomi Networks and Tripwire announce strategic partnership

Posted on: September 17, 2021

Nozomi Networks Inc., the provider of OT and IoT security, and Tripwire, a global provider of security and compliance solutions for enterprises and industrial organisations, announced they have partnered to help organisations lower cyber risk with consistent security controls that span their IT, OT and IoT environments.

Read more

RightIndem deploys enterprise-grade conversational AI to simplify customer claims process

Posted on: September 17, 2021

RightIndem, an global insurance technology company, has worked with Bristol-based Amdaris to simplify its customer onboarding process via developing enterprise-grade conversational Artificial Intelligence experiences.

Read more