In today’s distribution networks - with historically grown network structures, aging equipment and a very low level of automation - low reliability is often a big problem. During the modernization process, an alternative to a simple exchange of existing components, which reached the end of their lifetime, is the application of innovative Smart Grid technologies. This is according to Dr Holger Mueller, Head of Steady State System Studies, Smart Grid Solutions & Services at Siemens, who is speaking at this year’s European Utility Week.
“There are a number of these new technologies available today, which can – in combination with standard components - be utilized for different improvements of network’s performance,” explains Mueller. He adds that distribution automation equipment can largely reduce the unavailability and outages of customer’s supply as well as lower expenditures for network operation.
In combination with the renewal of aging components and application of control centres, network reliability can be enhanced to a great extent. In addition, Smart Meters and advanced meter data management systems can help identify the losses in a system and reduce non-technical losses.
Finding suitable technologies
Prior to the modernization of a distribution network, it is important to find suitable technologies to be applied in the future. This also includes choosing the appropriate concept and implementation roadmap for an efficient utilization of all advantages, explains Mueller.
“Therefore, the application of different conventional and innovative automation, measurement and monitoring technologies and solutions has to be evaluated in the distribution network under investigation.”
For each technology, the impact on voltage stability, power flows, technical losses, equipment loading, and reliability values will be analysed separately and its impact on the improvement of these performance indicators is assessed. As a result, the effectiveness of the Smart Grid solutions for implementation in strategic network development is analysed using in depth technical comparison.
Analysing economic efficiency of measurements
While technical analysis is critical, economic evaluation is very important for the overall decision making process in utility’s asset management departments, explains Mueller.
The combined techno-economical assessment includes – apart from the comparison of technical efficiency of selected technologies - the assessment of capital and operational expenditures, commercial losses, as well as the calculation of net present value and return of investment for each individual Smart Grid technology and solution.
“As a result, from the technical and economical evaluation of different standard and innovative solutions in distribution networks, optimal measures will be revealed. The investigations show which technologies for the modernization of the distribution grids and for improving security of supply lead to a positive impact on strategic network development and investment.”