Currently, the DSO is obligated to adhere to the quality of supply standards, as set out by Europe’s EN 50160, and at the same time is faced with growing grid challenges which involve renewables integration specifically PV on the LV grid, and smart developments such as electric vehicles and energy storage, amongst others.
These developments, while exciting for the energy industry as a whole, have the potential to create major technical issues such as phase unbalance, voltage control and bidirectional current and feed on the MV grid.
DSO monitoring and management
The integration of decentralised generation of electricity, the anticipation of operating failures and securing of the power supply, giving the customer a greater choice of services by promoting their participation in grid optimisation, the reduction of the environmental impact of the electrical system in its entirety and the optimisation of necessary grid reinforcements are what DSOs face today..
In this new environment, all of the LV grid is only minimally monitored, if at all so real-time analysis of all the electrical flows in each grid circuit is necessary.
While consumers’ smart metering and intelligent transmission energy management helps to overcome grid balancing issues, a smarter grid management requires solutions that offer real time accurate monitoring of all LV energy flows. This will enable a more comprehensive understanding of what is happening on the grid and will help DSOs develop a stronger knowledge of how to balance loads and generation on the LV grid.
It is this type of smarter management that will enable utilities to get the best out of their business investments.
According to Nadège Clerc, Infrastructure Marketing Manager, Markets & Strategic Marketing Department, Socomec, there are two clear solutions for DSOs when looking to overcome these issues. The first one is the monitoring of secondary substations (transformer outcome and LV feeders) and the second is the development of cloud services to manage the LV grid. The connected products are substation monitoring equipment, connected to a digital platform. These solutions will involve the DSO entering the world of IOT, a necessity for tomorrow’s utility.
Today’s projects and proof of concepts demonstrate the impacts of IOT, testing new services and new uses to answer new needs which are expected to provide an added value for both the utility and customer. This orientation will change DSO’s working methods, says Clerc. “Digital services will play a new role for DSOs, which need to be determined and DSOs will have to adopt a business model based on a new CAPEX/OPEX approach.”
IOT making the LV grid safer and more efficient
According to Clerc, IOT has a major part to play in creating a smarter LV grid.
These benefits are listed:
IOT will enable the easy collection of all electric and relevant data
LV grid overview and status with real time data and appropriate analysis
Accurate knowledge of loads and productions balance
Solutions analysis for decentralized productions
Optimised, scalable and flexible investments
Complete cloud solution without need of IT infrastructure and skills for DSO.
In addition to these, key factors include ease of use, an open platform and security of data.
According to Clerc, this type of monitoring and cloud solution is an innovative concept of LV grid management, integrating renewable energy, IOT technology and new working methods.
What is important is the scalability of the solution and the better understanding of the network which will help DSO to take the right decisions, focused on the priorities, optimizing OPEX and CAPEX investments, adapted to DSO reality.
Clerce recommends to utilities: “My recommendation is to try this type of equipment because it doesn’t recreate a new reality or a scheme or an infrastructure. It is very easy to use and creates a safer, more efficient grid.”
Our most recent webinar with Socomec, Innovative Monitoring System for LV grid - From a smart MV/LV substation to a digital platform, focuses on two DSO case studies in Europe and provides insights into how Socomec is providing a scalable solution which can be adapted to various business needs, requiring small investments but achieving quick results.