A Deeper View into the Distribution Network of the Future

Distribution monitoring and analytics is bringing greater value to the energy industry as it moves towards a new energy system of the future.
Published: Wed 25 Nov 2015

Due to the lack of visibility on Europe’s network, millions of kilometres of distribution power lines have been underinvested in and this will not support the transformation to a future energy system where more visibility and control is needed.

We spoke to industry experts at our studios at European Utility Week [video interviews attached] to gain a better understanding of how the distribution network should function in the new energy future.

Creating the grid of tommorrow

Anne-Laure Leroyer, Marketing Director, Tollgrade Communications, describes the benefits that their LightHouse® distribution monitoring platform brings to the distribution network. The solution has been developed to monitor the distribution grid’s health and help the network operators to modernize it.

“With the increase in distributed generation, the two way energy flow is creating a major paradigm shift due to renewable integration which the old grid cannot effectively accommodate. This is where a solution like Tollgrade LightHouse® can help utilities to build a modern and predictive network. The solution will help utilities transform challenges into opportunities.”

Her suggestion to the industry is to be open to solutions by exploring and sharing learnings from other industries. “Solutions can often solve multiple issues so adopt one that can be expanded on as you move into the new energy future.”

Analysis creating value

Julien Groues, SVP of EMEA, C3 Energy, explains how the full scale deployment of analytics can help improve revenue protection and predictive maintenance. He explains how predictive analysis can be used across various assets, creating great value for the industry.

He says that while smart meters do provide a lot of valuable data, it is possible to accumulate data from other meters. He points to Endesa which has three meter types. Different algorithms were created and valuable data was captured as a result, he explains. “The ability to connect all sensor information and combine this with operational systems data creates great value.”

He also describes how smart meters are becoming more than a billing medium-he says they are fast becoming a valuable resource at the edge of the grid.  

Andreas Franz, OEM Sales Manager,Taoglas, discusses the importance of antennas in the new energy system of the future and how these can enable the best radio frequency performance for the industry.

Multiple communications

Tim Wolf, director marketing, smart grid solutions and Norbert Rickert, senior director, smart grid EMEA, both from Itron, describe how their OpenWay Riva™,an IoT-based technology platform, combines multiple communications in the same device and intelligently selects the best path for communication. Distribution analytics has been added to the platform which further enhances the solution’s capabilities to solve critical challenges that today’s power grids face. 

The solution helps to analyse and crunch 1 second data at the edge of the network. Grid problems are resolved through the use of data which can warn operators of high impedance and potentially dangerous connections within a low voltage network. Theft can also be picked up more accurately based on the flow of the current instead of relying on alarms from the metering system. Demand response can also now be approached intelligently through the communication between meters. [Energy Sector Leads Internet of Things]

Both speakers discuss the benefits of the combination of Kamstrup's Omnipower smart meter and Itron's Openway Riva communications module. Utilities can now deploy a single network that incorporates radio frequency (RF) and power line carrier (PLC).Itron’s support of the Netricity programme at European Utility Week was also explained.

Mr Wolf recommends that systems and architectures be opened to drive innovation and competition which is in essence what the Openway Riva is all about. He adds, “The market needs a flexible platform to tackle the broader challenges.”


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