More and more local energy producers with highly intermittent generation profiles have to be incorporated into today’s power grids. The trend towards self-sufficiency among private households and industrial companies means that growing parts of the energy system are moving beyond the control of conventional grid operators. This is making reliable grid management increasingly complex and pushing many existing resources and processes to their limit. We have to find ways of keeping pace with change and making sure black-outs remain a thing of the past.
Using intelligence and automation to increase reliability
The increasing digitalization of energy grids provides operators with an unprecedented level of transparency, enabling them to monitor the current status of a grid and every single asset within that grid in real time. Moving forward, a combination of meters, sensors, software-enabled analysis tools and actuators at critical points across grids will provide a powerful foundation for secure future grid operations. These tools allow complex systems to be managed more effectively and respond dynamically to peaks and outages. In collaboration with its customer CenterPoint, Siemens has developed a concept that uses data from the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to optimally run and maintain transformers.
Flexible automation solutions from Siemens allow power flows to be managed across different grid levels, enabling operators to manage the increasing streams of renewable energy being fed into the grid. Various technologies can also be combined with distributed intelligence to build self-healing grids. In other words, an innovative concept that boosts security of supply with systems that can automatically disconnect from the main grid, isolate errors and autonomously reconnect. Intelligent substations like the ones Siemens has integrated in the Cologne district of Chorweiler and in Niederstetten (both in Germany) as well as in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) play a key role here. They are an efficient means of adapting conventional grid infrastructures to the challenges of modern power systems while reducing outages to a minimum.
Using decentralized assets to stabilize grids
As our energy systems become increasingly decentralized and the renewable share of the mix rises, it is becoming much more complicated to reliably predict consumer patterns. In addition, infrastructures are struggling to manage the huge volumes of electricity being fed into the grid by consumers. As a result, distribution network operators are increasingly having to carry out tasks traditionally managed by transmission system operators. However, this new grid structure is also a major opportunity. Decentralized assets can be effectively and efficiently used to stabilize grids and make them more robust.
Wabash Valley Power is a prime example of how a modern demand response system based on the modular EnergyIP platform from Siemens can be effectively used to minimize dangerous peak loads. The EcoGrid EU project has a similar goal. Here, Siemens is collaborating with partners and the local grid operator Bornholms Energi&Forsyning to combine cutting-edge energy management with innovative building automation systems. The project has significantly increased the stability of the entire grid by aligning consumption with power generated from decentralized, renewable energy sources.
Proactively harnessing decentralized assets is not the only way of increasing reliability in the long term. Modern grid design also plays a key role. Parts of a larger grid, for example, can be operated as microgrids (e.g., in city districts or industrial parks). In the event of an outage, these smaller energy systems can continue to operate autonomously. Siemens provides a one-stop microgrid solution – extending from preparatory analyses to controllers and grid operation “as a service” based on the proven Spectrum Power platform.
Grid security and reliability is also the number one priority when installing decentralized photovoltaic systems. Siemens’ new electrical Balance of Plant (eBOP) solution is an all-round concept for seamlessly and intelligently integrating large-scale photovoltaic systems. This offering includes all electrotechnical components required for seamless connection to medium- and high-voltage grids as well as a broad portfolio of services and financing options.
Highest security standards for everything from corporate IT to behind-the-meter
To build power grids that remain safe and secure in the long term, we must ensure that all assets – from substations to management software and smart meters – are effectively protected against accidents, external attacks and natural disasters. Cyber-attacks are emerging as a significant new threat as modern energy grids become increasingly digitalized.
Siemens offers an all-round suite of internationally certified solutions here to ensure that cybersecurity is hardwired into all software solutions. Siemens’ Pretact® concept, for example, is aimed at system-critical assets such as transformers. Sophisticated monitoring functionality identifies and prevents potential disruptions as early as possible. The products themselves are bullet-proof and shielded against geomagnetic disturbances. Siemens also helps grid operators respond quickly and flexibly to outages. The company has developed the first mobile transformer of its kind in collaboration with New York energy company Con Edison. These units feature an intelligent plug-and-play concept that enables operators to restore grid availability within a very short space of time.
Minimizing the downtime is often a matter of life and death, especially in critical facilities such as hospitals. Which is why A&N Electric Cooperative in Virginia (USA) uses the Siemens distribution feeder automation system (SDFA) from Siemens. This solution enables outages at individual feeder stations to be identified and isolated extremely quickly. It can also switch to alternative energy sources if necessary – all of which has helped significantly reduce outages and permanently increase grid security.
Staying ahead of the transformation the energy markets are undergoing in the wake of digitalization is vital for future business success. We provide you with the opportunity to learn at first hand what renowned thought leaders expect from the digitalization of the future energy markets. Meet the experts and discover what is heading in our direction.
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Other topics on agility in energy
Achieving the necessary agility in the energy sector requires many components to work perfectly together. Siemens offers the right products, solutions and services in a total of four different fields of action. Use the following links to explore the three others.