Transmission adequacy problems versus electrical growing consumptions, control and protection technological ageing, unpredictable renewable sources penetration, unbundling and market distortion effects, lack of coordination between system operators… are just examples of possible root causes which led to partial or total blackouts in recent years worldwide. USA and European large disturbances on 2003 and 2005, as well as USA and Brazilian events on 2011, have not been so dramatic as the most recent repeated blackouts in the Northern regions of India in 2012. It may appear surprising that frequency and consequences of third millennium incidents are respectively growing and enlarging, despite the mature literature about Smart Grid concepts and the indubitable availability on the market of modern, advanced and reliable technological solutions.
Both small and severe blackouts are typically initiated by minor and local causes, but very often cascading effects, due to major and more intrinsic problems, jeopardize system security and lead to partial or total system collapses, whose social repercussions are unfortunately well known. In this framework, how to learn at best all the possible lessons for improving operational security ? Which kind of coordinated action plans, hopefully involving all the necessary stakeholders, have to be put in place ? How to decline at best the Smart Grid paradigms for really filling the existing operational gaps, choosing the most suitable functional and technological solutions on the market ?
As known, the Smart Grid vision, concepts and challenges encompass today all the electric power system spectrum, starting from the Generation plants, passing through the Transmission and Distribution networks and extending to the final use of delivered energy. Most of the initial Smart Grid focus was devoted to Distribution and committed to Advanced Metering Infrastructures (AMI) and Demand Response Systems (DRS), aimed to increase the consumer’s active participation in network operation and pushed more recently by digital communications and control advances. For Transmission, technical advances in monitoring, protection, analysis and control have continuously occurred, accompanied by periodic breakthroughs in transmission capacity. Power electronics played an important role, by enabling High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission and a variety of Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS) enhancements. This continuous progress, sustained also by ICT deployment, spontaneously introduced Smart Grid paradigms at some TSOs.
In literature the visions for paradigms and priorities of the Smart Grids for Transmission platform are quite similar: in all of them the objectives like “sustainability, efficiency, security, reliability, …” are always put in evidence and considered reachable by means like “integration, monitoring, control, communication, coordination…”. CESI proposes a four items agenda:Smart Models: in this framework the focus is on requirements for achieving an excellence in operators know-how and awareness, addressing issues like Network Data (good data quality for both planning and operational off-line studies, as well as for advanced security and optimization on-line analysis), Analysis Tools (modeling accuracy, computing robustness and flexibility), Dispatching Rules (Control Plans, Defense Plans and Restoration Plans, pillars of the Grid Code including all the technical and dispatching rules at a glance) and Operators Skills (needing a stable Enterprise Training Program with a full Commitment for Education).Smart Controls: in this framework the focus is on advanced applications of Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA), Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Wide Area Systems (WAS), devoted to network control, regulation, protection and addressing issues like Supervision Systems and Dispatching Procedures (Static Security Assessment and Dispatching Optimization features to be integrated with dynamic functionalities, like Dynamic Security Assessment, Transient Security Constrained Optimization and Dynamic Line Rating), Phasor Measurements Features (from Monitoring WAMS to Control WACS and Protection WAPS) and Hierarchical Regulations (aimed to automatically coordinate at best the Ancillary Services exploitation as concern interconnections power exchanges and frequency/voltage stability).Smart Processes: in this framework the focus is on Data Mining and Visualization issues, as well as on Standardization and Interoperability advantages on network operation, addressing topics relevant at both the power plant and control centers levels (like IEC 60870/61850/61970, Inter-Control Center Communications Protocol ICCP and Common Information Model CIM), according to modern solutions for sharing data and applications (like eXtensible Markup Language XML, Enterprise Service Bus ESB and Service Oriented Architecture SOA).Smart Assets: in this framework the focus is on advanced network devices (based on power electronics like HVDC and FACTS), renewable and storage integration (in the network) and exploitation (in the overall operational processes and control philosophy), advanced asset management and equipment maintenance best-practices (integrating business intelligence).
According to CESI experience, it is essential that any TSO conceives its own Smart Grid vision and roadmap, defining a coordinated action plan for putting in question its consolidated practices, even if they have assured for years the network operation with a suitable level of reliability. Only a roadmap customized and well defined may permit a TSO to initiate a coordinated series of development projects which tomorrow will allow an advanced operation of the high voltage system. Not choosing and following this roadmap will certainly cost more than the investments needed.