Smart Grid, Smart Cities and the App Store Read More Sep 26, 2018
Tauron: Wrocław with a unique meter communication system in Europe Read More Sep 19, 2018
Making the smart grid intelligent: Using software to improve power reliability Read More Sep 12, 2018
Why Vattenfall made its LV grid intelligent - the use cases Read More Sep 10, 2018

Of course, a Smart Energy Grid is an integral part of a Smart City. The social and sustainability benefits of the Smart City are dependent on reliable and secure supply of energy, leveraging the changing role of distributed generation and maximising distribution efficiency. This is clearly understood by the energy industry and directs the quality and “intelligence” of Smart Grid solutions in these environments.  
Here is a whitepaper that will help you determine what type of Smart Grid is needed for a Smart City.

The linkage with the iTunes App Store may be a little harder to conceptualise, but that is exactly what Tauron, a leading DSO in Poland, has explained in a recent case study describing their deployment of a Smart Grid for their Smart City Wroclaw initiative. You can read the English version of this case study here, and the original in Polish here.

Tauron is referring to how their deployment of more than 360K meters allows the introduction of new meter vendors and services into their Smart Grid solution seamlessly; reliably working together and integrating with their back-end systems.

When you log into the iTunes App Store and download a new application, you just expect it to all work together. But, what does this mean? The application must function, yes. But, you expect the application to fit into the same security framework, co-exist with other applications sharing the same computing resource, offer the same user experience, interweave with other applications running on the same device and administrated through the same operational processes.

So, how does that translate into the Smart Grid in Tauron’s Smart City Wroclaw initiative?

Tauron has deployed an OSGP (Open Smart Grid Protocol) based solution which offers an unprecedented level of interoperability. OSGP certified meters do not just communicate over the same protocol. They communicate into the same head-end, they have the same operational controls and capabilities, they can be managed from the same operational screens and they apply the same stringent security capabilities. That is something which cannot be said for all AMI standards.

Tauron mentioned Mitsubishi Electric in their most recent case study, but other OSGP partners, including Apator and Networked Energy Services (NES), a leading supplier of highly sophisticated smart meters, have also provided OSGP certified meters for this Tauron project. You can find more information on the technology that brought this project to life here

So, let’s go back to Tauron’s endorsed linkage to the App Store:

  • Security – All OSGP devices implement industry leading security layers. An important aspect of this is that security across OSGP devices is always-on and fully enabled. There are no “chinks in the armour” for the OSGP devices. Regardless of which vendor provides the smart meters, security is uniform, fully enabled and stringent throughout the deployment.
  • Co-existence – All OSGP devices share the same underlying infrastructure resources and are designed to do so collaboratively. This covers the connection from the meter to the concentrator, the functions of the concentrator, the communications back to the HES, and its IT compute resource. None of the OSGP devices will “hog” resources and lead to performance issues elsewhere within the solution.
  • User experience – It is this conformity of performance which underpins the utility’s user experience. SLAs for all OSGP meters are monitored and managed centrally, and any remedial actions to improve SLAs in any black-spots are also standard and aligned to the OSGP characteristics rather than a specific meter vendor. By maintaining strong communications, the meters are able to share valuable information to the DSO including energy supply quality and energy flows from distributed generation.
  • Interweaving with other applications – OSGP meters offer the means to control consumer devices, interact with the Smart Home, and interact with other smart but non-communicating meters. Any OSGP meter, equipped for such local connectivity, is supported through the same operations and control framework, and follows open standards to connect with the consumer equipment.
  • Operational processes – Multi-vendor meter solutions often fragment at the operations layer. Alignment to a common protocol may not necessarily mean consolidation of operations to a single set of processes and a single set of operational screens. However, OSGP certified meters are managed through a single operational application, which provides fault, performance, accounting, configuration, remote device and security management.

So, when Tauron relates Smart Grid, Smart City and the App Store, they are illustrating how their vision for Smart Grid in the Smart City promotes a level of openness, expandability and flexibility should be achievable using leading Smart Grid protocols. The reality is not all standards guarantee this outcome. Tauron has demonstrated how this is a real and practical outcome, in its Smart City Wroclaw initiative, through the OSGP standard.

Original article in Polish retreived from 

Tauron has built an AMI smart metering system in the capital of Lower Silesia, in which OSGP-based (Open Smart Grid Protocol) meters from three manufacturers are being used, maintaining the highest standards of PLC communication security. The group emphasizes that this is the first such solution in Europe.
Initially, the company installed about 368 thousand meters in the area of the city of Wrocław as part of the AMIPlus Smart City Wrocław project. The installed devices are supplied by two different manufacturers. The smart meters are fully interoperable, which means that they interact and communicate with each other in the power grid.
“Interoperability is a unique feature of the system because it allows devices from different manufacturers to operate in the network and communicate with each other. This is a rare feature, but a very desirable one, as it increases the competitiveness of tender procedures. It also ensures greater investment in security since we are not reliant on only one equipment supplier,” says Mariusz Jurczyk, director of intelligent metering at Tauron Dystrybucja Pomiary.
This year, the company decided to install meters from a third manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric, which debuts on the domestic and European market. It is a three-phase meter, compliant with the OSGP standard   and associated PLC technology. Previously, the meter was tested for interoperability and compliance with the AMI specification. The specific procedure of verifying the meter for compliance with the OSGP standard is similar to the world of smartphones and platforms on which phones work.
“Our solution is more like the iOS platform and the rules prevailing in Apple’s App Store. To meet the standard, one has to undergo demanding testing procedures, and the same goes for all participating suppliers. As a result, we receive a meter that is compatible with the system and can be immediately included in operations, while maintaining high safety standards,” explains Mariusz Jurczyk.
Now, AMI meters from the new manufacturer   are installed in the Tauron Distribution network, mainly for newly connected customers. Wrocław is a city that is dynamically developing and expanding. It is also one of the most active investment regions in the country for multi-family housing. This causes continuous demand for AMI meters, mainly in the three-phase system.
Last year, Tauron Dystrybucja was the first energy company in Poland to release a new functionality that allows remote activation of the wireless communication interface in an intelligent electricity meter. As a result, Tauron's customers are the first to observe the energy consumption of individual devices in homes or offices in real time. This is possible thanks to a new service called HAN Tauron AMIPlus.
Since 2015, within the Wrocław region, Tauron Dystrybucja has been implementing the AMIplus Smart City Wrocław project related to the installation of smart metering. AMIplus is a system that allows automatic processing, transmission and management of measurement data. It enables two-way communication between electricity meters and the Distribution System Operator, while giving the customer access to current information on electricity consumption. Communication is done via the OSGP - based PLC technology.

Networked Energy Services (NES) and eSmart Systems have written a joint white paper about making the smart grid intelligent. This blog article is an extract - read the full white paper here

Timely actionable insight is the key to making the correct business and operational decisions. Over the last few decades, significant investment has been made in the monitoring and management of the medium- and high- voltage grids.

The latest generation of smart meters provides new levels of visibility of power and voltage quality at the substation transformer and the consumer. Some smart grid solutions even provide visibility of the low-voltage grid topology and connectivity, and can create measurements from within the low-voltage grid.

With the availability of information from the low-voltage grid, software solutions that process and analyse this information can make a positive contribution by providing timely actionable insight. This insight can be used to improve operational processes and can also have a positive impact on the quality of service that the end consumer receives.

In the following, we will explore how the latest smart metering solutions can be combined with new analytics tools to improve power reliability, by looking at three key scenarios:

  • Improving Power Quality
  • Assessing Impacts of Power Quality Problems
  • Restoring Service

Improwing power quality 
Improving power quality is the fundamental step to take. This involves gathering as much information as possible about the current and historical performance of the low-voltage grid, from the substation to the consumer, and exposing this into analytics tools to help highlight the indicators of network quality problems.

The sensor network exposes a wide range of voltage and power quality parameters, at the substation and consumer premise, but also at points deep in the low-voltage grid. This information can be used to identify capacity problems and non-optimal configurations in the low-voltage grid, which can, through analytics, be used to trigger proactive maintenance activities as well as respond to more immediate problems which are directly affecting consumers, such as voltage and power quality degradations.

Modern smart meters provide high resolution data about e.g. consumption. By using advanced analytics on consumption patterns it is possible to:

  • Group customers that have obvious similarities in consumption
  • Identify new types of consumption, such as EVs in a certain area or even identify those consumers who have just bought an EV
  • Identify new types of generation in an area, like those consumers who have highly effective solar panels.

This is information that affects the power distribution, so it is important to get an overview of this and it also helps in marketing use to make sure you increase the possibility for up-sales.

Assessing impacts 
With problems in the low-voltage grid identified, it then becomes important to identify the scope of the impacts. Through closer integration of the sensor network and the analytics framework, it becomes possible to assess impacts in terms of both affected consumers, but also the business and social impact of the outages.

Not only is the topology of the low-voltage grid mapped out by the sensor network; the mapping between the topology and physical infrastructure, and topology and consumers can also be defined through integration with back-end systems.

These capabilities mean that both the possible root-cause and impact of fault can be assessed:

  • Root-cause. Indicators of poor voltage or power quality can be mapped on the topology to «triangulate» towards a probable root-cause, such as a physically damaged line serving a wider range of consumers. The DSO can then dispatch field-engineers or technicians with more certainty as to the location of the fault, which, in turn, reduces the time to restore and the field work costs
  • With the root-cause identified, the same approach of using topology can be applied to identify those consumers depending on supply over the faulty infrastructure, and so the DSO is able to start prioritising work based on consumer impact and track the end-customer’s experience with greater accuracy.

To improve the process of impact assessment and get faster resolutions it is important to have a wider perspective, a holistic view. DSOs need to utilize all data available to see as many correlations as possible.

Restoring service 
With the root-cause and the consumer impact identified, it now becomes possible to stream-line how problems are resolved through:

Improved information: More of the right information, and more up-to-date information can be shared with the teams responsible for restoring the service. This can include information about the fault and information about possible recovery actions, such as identifying available capacity for re-routes.

Improved priority setting: Whilst prioritizing based on the number of impacted consumers is a positive first step, the ideal should be to prioritize based on commercial, business and social impacts. This requires close integration, through analytics, of a wide range of information sets which have not historically been part of the service restoration process.
The information generated from the sensor network provides a rich source of alarm/event and historical performance information, which can be used by the analytics framework to define actions, embedded into the field-engineer’s pack and accessed on-line by the engineer from the field if required.

With the amounts of data now available, we believe the ones who win are the ones that can utilize this data, do the right analysis and take the right actions.

The future for DSOs 
The combination of a sensor network in the low-voltage grid, together with an analytics framework to draw insight from the information it exposes, provides a new and exciting set of possibilities for DSOs:

  • The first step is to enrich the information available from the low-voltage grid; not just the voltage measurements at the substation and consumer, but also a wider range of quality information, on each phase of supply, with more detail within the low-voltage grid, and with additional topology discovery
  • The second step is to provide this information into an analytics framework so that the large volumes of information can be processed to extract timely, actionable business and operational insight.

Such systems are available today, with Networked Energy Services Patagonia Energy Applications Platform and smart meters, along with the eSmart Systems analytics frameworks being excellent examples.

Thanks to new technologies on the grid, utilities have at their disposal an unprecedented level of data sources and visibility on the grid.

However, perhaps the most dynamic area, the low-voltage (LV) grid is often overlooked by distribution system operators (DSOs).

In an Engerati webinar, Lars Garpetun, R&D Programme Manager at Vattenfall, one of Europe's largest producers and retailers of electricity and heat, gave his perspective on why DSOs should pay more attention to the LV grid.

Due to the cost, he explains, the LV grid is not monitored by the SCADA system, making it a black hole for Vattenfall. To combat this, the utility established a LV monitoring system based on data from the smart metering system.

He says: “It’s been running for a few years and is very cost-effective. Today we can monitor power outage and power quality data based on events generated by the meters when an unacceptable level of quality occurs.”

DSOs in tomorrow’s smart grid
The issue at hand for Vattenfall, however, is that the solution is not ‘intelligent’, focusing on reactive actions as opposed to proactive.

Garpetun explains the issues facing DSOs moving forwards: “The solution we currently use just gives us meter events when power voltage is out of an acceptable range. In the future, it will not be acceptable, nor should it be acceptable, for customers to alert the DSOs of power outage or quality issues when the event occurs.”

As the grid becomes more complex, Garpetun explains that DSOs will need to develop their LV capabilities: “Customers’ consumption patterns are changing, and with increased distributed energy resources such as electric vehicles, there will be a drastic impact on voltage networks. Today, we have no way of handling these issues of the future. The goal for us is to lower operational expenditures and improve customer satisfaction with early identification of weakness in the grid.”

Networked Energy Services (NES) is a project partner with Vattenfall as it shifts to make its grid operations intelligent. Jon Wells, Director of product marketing at NES, says: “In the past, it’s only been commercially viable to utilize SCADA for high and medium-voltage grids, but now it’s the LV grid where all of the dynamic energy usage happens.”

To combat these issues, NES has developed a new interface which can provide more proactive insights to DSOs. Wells explains: “The solution puts on top of the LV grid, two key components - what we’re calling a sensor network and an analytics framework.”

With this framework, DSOs can build a more accurate and detailed model of LV grid topology, obtain more detailed and fine-grain voltage and power supply and quality information from the substation to the consumer, and draw timely actionable insight for operational and business decision making.

Use cases for smarter LV grids
In the webinar, the panel of project partners discussed the key use cases for the intelligent LV grid:

1) Improving power quality

One of the key use cases, according to Wells, is thanks to the LV grid topology visibility gained from the sensor network layer.

He explains that with the understanding gained of the grid topology between the transformer and consumer, DSOs can get greater insight into how best to manage power quality.

Wells explains how: “DSOs are no longer limited to just looking at monitoring points at the network edge - they’re able to understand what’s going on deeper inside. This allows them to identify longer term degradation and trends, so that they don’t need to wait for a failure.”

This combined with the analytics framework means DSOs can use that new information in an intelligent, proactive way.

Wells says: “We can find out what the indicators are for failures and use them to predict and avoid future failures, look at datasets that give information of demographics to gain more insight into the growth and demand in certain areas, and then be able to understand more about the dynamics of consumption, supply and distribution across the LV grid.”

2)  Assessing impacts

A second key use case for a smarter LV grid is to identify the impact to consumers of an event in the LV grid. Wells says: “By knowing more about the topology of the LV grid, we’re given greater insight into who may be impacted, but also we can start looking at the patterns of outages and where perhaps there’s a root cause creating wider impacts.”

The analytics framework can then look at this data and add value to it based on other data sources in the business or public domain, looking into things such as the social impact of an outage, as well as the economic and business impacts.

From there, Wells explains, operational measures can be intelligently evaluated: “We can use analytics models that are able to calculate the revenue generation of that consumer. So this can help us decide the priority criteria for fixing problems based on the social, economic and business impacts as well as the traditional technical severity considerations.”

3) Restoring service

The key concerns for DSOs restoring service in the smart grid is making operators able to identify the root cause faster, spot available capacity for re-routing and  enriching information passed over to field crews.

Wells explains: “The sensor networks role in this is to identify the root cause through reachability of network health points (points in the network which are historically highly reliable communicators) and the topology, and also identify where there’s capacity to switch energy distribution flows and where there’s been a reroute to accommodate for that problem. Then it can help drive semi and fully automatic load control.”

Following the information gained here, the analytics framework can improve the dispatch of tasks to field work.

Wells says: “We can make information provided with the field work tasks more accurate, provide more detailed and contextual information, and also are able to bring in information from wider datasets in order to be smarter about that priority setting.”

The future for DSOs and the smart grid
Next generation metering systems can give DSOs the opportunity to improve business processes by implementing comprehensive monitoring of the low voltage grid which enables them to take a more proactive approach to operations.

Garpetun sees this as a crucial way for DSOs to gain the most benefit from the future smart grid, saying: “An advanced metering system with the ability to continually measure current and voltage in combination with advanced analytical methods are the key components to provide customers and DSOs better service and lower costs.”

To find out more about the difficulties posing DSOs in the smart grid future, watch our webinar “Making the smart grid intelligent: Using apps for power reliability” on demand now.

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