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Smart Grids and the Evolution of Electricity Networks – A Burgeoning Paradigm

With the popularization of technology, the requirement for electrical energy resources has skyrocketed, posing a problem for energy generation and its transmission. As a result, the increased need for higher dependability, flexibility, safety, agility, and environmental and energy conservation issues is increasing the intricacies of power systems.

These characteristics of a power grid contribute to its technological prowess, which is now known as the “Smart Grid” idea. It is a notion wherein all smart features are incorporated to make the electrical system more effective, dependable, and long-lasting.

This page outlines the meaning of smart grids and their characteristics and benefits for the power distribution business.

What are Smart Grids?

Smart grid infrastructure is an electricity network that allows for a two-way flow of electricity and data and the detection, reaction, and prevention of changes in energy consumption and other difficulties, using digital communications technology. An electric grid is self-healing and allows power users to take an active role in the system.

Smart grid technologies are frequently referred to as “smartening the grid” or “modernizing the power system.” The deployment of smart grid technologies, whether as part of an existing electric grid or as part of the development of new networks or expansions of networks, is not a goal in and of itself. It is a facilitator of providing secure, dependable, clean, and affordable power to end-users. Two-way communication, control systems, and computer processing are all used to enable “smart grid” technology.

Advanced sensors known as Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs) enable operators to evaluate grid stability. The advanced digital meters give users good info about power delivery and autonomously report outages. The relays sense and recover from substation faults instantaneously. The automated feeder switches reroute electricity around problems, and the batteries store surplus power and make it accessible to the grid later to meet energy consumer demands.

The Core and Contrasts of the Smart Grid vs. Traditional Electricity Grids

A traditional solar power plant and electricity grid are demand-driven and have a hierarchical design with no energy storage potential.The voltage in an electricity network is gradually reduced from transmission voltage levels to distribution voltage levels to service voltage levels so that these various end-users can use electricity. Traditionally, a differentiation is made between transmission (high and extra high voltage transmission grids) and distribution (lower voltage distribution grids), where separate wiring and cabling methods are involved.

The goal of an electric grid is to ensure that power is always available when it is needed, without interruptions — there are numerous issues to which a smart grid network can already provide solutions. Self-healing capabilities in a smarter grid allow for automatic detection and response to grid problems and rapid recovery following disruptions.

A smart grid’s two-way flow of electricity and data allows data and information to be fed to numerous stakeholders in the electricity market. It can then be analyzed to optimize the grid, envisage possible pitfalls, respond instantly when obstacles arise, and develop new capacities – and services – as the power landscape changes. While the term “smart grid” still pertains to the bi-directional transmission of data and electricity, the term’s meaning and scope have expanded. That is due to the numerous possibilities opened up by this significant change and the increasing number of technologies used in smart grid deployments.

Benefits of a Smart Grid

The following are some of the advantages of a smart grid:

  • Reliability and resiliency have improved.
  • Restoration time after a disturbance is reduced.
  • Energy consumers will benefit from more information and energy management.
  • Integration of renewable energy systems is made more accessible.
  • Enhanced safety and security.
  • Assisting the smart grid power supply chain with new business prospects.

Evolving technologies such as energy storage in batteries, control systems, energy resources, smart meters, enhanced metering infrastructure, self-optimizing networks, management of distributed energy, and electric utility have contributed to the emergence of the smart electric grid.

Although these technologies are not new – EVs have been around for over a century – their emergence now is particularly significant because they can augment a grid that can now efficiently harness them.

Features of Smart Gids

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) created a basis for grid modernization. Smart Grid features and functions have the potential to meet all of EISA’s requirements.

Resilience

The grid system’s success is determined by consumer demand, measured in terms of resilience.

It translates to an electrical system with fewer flaws and errors and a constant supply of electric power from power plants.

Safety

One of the most challenging aspects of smart grid advancement is security.

Remote monitoring and control of the grid have become increasingly common as automation has increased, making the grid more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

System for Demand Management

The power grid offers the demand side or user to engage with the grid by leveraging two-way communication capabilities. It allows consumers to make cost-effective use of electric power.

Metering

The smart power meters are linked to distribution system automation.

In the smart grid idea, metering channels two-way communication between the energy consumers and the utility companies.

A smart meter assists distributors in maintaining a more accurate billing system and assists consumers in managing their energy consumption.

Self-Healing

A strong smart grid should diagnose and remove faults in the grid to ensure a continual power supply.

A grid with self-healing capabilities monitors electrical parameters of the grid using real-time communications technology and digital components distributed throughout the grid.

Drivers for Smart Grid Deployment

Evaluating the existing state of a given system and projected future needs is necessary for determining which smart grid technology is most suited for deployment in specific energy systems. Assuming quality data is obtained and available, judging the status is very simple but does require expert judgment.

Future requirements may be more challenging to meet, as peak demands are influenced by the country’s economic growth and how energy efficiency, transportation systems, and industrial activity are planned. The motivating factors in established and developing economies can be roughly classified. Such labels display several common aspects while also demonstrating varying degrees of emphasis.

System efficiency enhancements, reliability advancements, and energy regulations or targets are standard in the top six of each economic type, but they are prioritized differently.

For developed countries, factors include:

  • consumer participation and choice;
  • new products and services, and maximizing usage of assets.
  • economic benefits;
  • collection of revenue; and
  • the function of smart grids to promote the distributed generation of energy and its sustainability.

Options for the evolution of a particular energy system must be based on a long-term plan that considers social, economic, and environmental issues in the given city, region, or country.

In addition to determining which technologies to implement, it is critical to establish which technologies should be implemented as a cluster and in what order to receive the maximum return for a given investment in a minor period.

EVs and Smart Grids

Vehicle pollution is one of the most severe environmental issues. This difficulty is solved by using electric vehicles. Infrastructure, communication, and control are all issues that EVs face when interacting with the grid. EVs are often charged at home. However, they may also be charged at a public or commercial charging station. As a result, it’ll probably put a strain on the electric distribution system.

However, suppose the integration of EVs with the grid is effectively designed and adheres to its criteria. In that case, it is feasible that this plug-in electric vehicles charging can increase the quality of power and grid performance. The smart grid evolution has advanced communication, smart metering, and control technology. As a result, it has the potential to offer EVs as both load and flexible energy sources. Smart electricity meters are critical in addressing the grid’s EV-related difficulties.

These meters can assist in implementing smart scheduling to optimize the available energy in the grid because they have bidirectional communication capability and monitor real-time data.

Conclusion

Smart grid research and gadgets can transform energy sources’ use in a cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner. The evolution of the energy infrastructure can meet all future energy needs in the most efficient manner feasible by lowering carbon emissions and integrating a more renewable energy mix. Given the difficulties of controlling electric networks, grid stability, energy storage innovation, and AI integration are critical milestones. All of these actions must be completed while keeping the ESG criteria in mind. Aptimize comes in handy here. Aptimize, developed by Aplines, performs risk assessments and streamlines decision-making. It helps you reduce risk and increase grid dependability by integrating AI.

The maintenance optimizer will assess your portfolio and comprehend the risk visually while producing a risk matrix with tables and creating dashboards, showing data through widgets. Once the risk has been identified, it will geographically aggregate all of your functional group assets, including power lines, poles, transformers, and views aggregated by processors. It generates an action plan to help you improve your decision-making and prioritize your monetization risks.

Finally, it generates a maintenance scenario to mitigate risks, build maintenance plans, and provide an optimized maintenance plan while increasing ROI. You can define budget limitations and assign the most optimal resource groups to send for maintenance using the Optimizer scenario.

Current studies on smart meters, demand-side management systems, self-healing, and big data provide hope for the future of the energy infrastructure.  Please schedule a consultation with Aplines today to learn more about how it can assist you in achieving your asset management objectives.

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