LayLine Automation

OT 2.0 - Greater Visibility

April 17, 2023


Over the past decade, utilities have made steady improvements in the enhancement and reliability of the distribution grid. With infrastructure that is often outdated and difficult to maintain, utilities have recognized the importance of investing in their networks to meet the growing customer demands. From improving restoration times to reducing operational costs,utilities have been actively pursuing strategies to modernize the grid. These efforts have been driven by a range of factors, including advances in technology, changing customer expectations, and increasing regulatory pressures.

The increasing demands on utility networks have prompted the development of grid scale enhancements such as Fault Location, Isolation, and Service Restoration (FLISR) and Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR), among others. While these technologies are advancing rapidly, their implementation can still pose challenges, particularly for control systems and the situational awareness of control center operators. These new grid applications often require complex integration with existing infrastructure, making deployment difficult.

In response to these challenges, there has been a recent surge in the adoption of Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) to streamline the integration of new technologies with existing infrastructure. ADMS provides a comprehensive solution to manage and optimize the distribution grid in real-time by leveraging data analytics, machine learning algorithms,and other advanced tools.

As highlighted in our OT2.0 Introduction, utilities are undergoing a significant transformation due to ongoing advancements in technology and the industrialization of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), Electric Vehicles (EVs), and other related technologies. This shift, coupled withgrowing public policy support for small-scale renewable electrification and electric transportation, is disrupting the established patterns of bounded variability and rates of change that distribution grids have operated within for many years.

To successfully navigate this new distribution grid, utilities must improve their visibility into the state of the grid, includingto the edge, where DERs are primarily located. This increased visibility is crucial for monitoring grid performance, including bi-directional power flow, identifying and resolving faults, and ensuring optimal utilization of resources. Advanced sensing technologies, networks and device management systems are all necessary additions to an OT 2.0 system. Additionally, the increasing emphasis on data-driven decision-making will require utilities to invest in advanced analytics platforms and workforce training programs to support the interpretation and application of this data.

The Need for Visibility and Control to the Distribution Grid Edge

As the grid integrates more distributed energy resources(DERs), it poses unique challenges for grid operators. Variations in solar irradiance or wind speed can cause voltage and frequency fluctuations that can destabilize the grid. Moreover, the deployment of premise-based photovoltaics(PVs) disrupts the well-established pattern of voltage level setting at substations, which historically depended on the linear decrease of voltage down the line on a radial circuit.

The increasing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is further straining the grid. The charging of EVs can create localized spikes in demand, which may overload distribution lines and transformers, potentially leading to power outages. In a recent study (2021) from California on the distribution grid impacts of electric vehicles it was found that by 2030, 443 circuits in PG&Es territory will require upgrades, while only 88 circuits currently have planned upgrades, in this time frame.

Energy storage systems also introduce new variables to the grid. The state of charge of batteries and the availability of stored energy are important factors that must be taken into account for efficient grid management. These working in a coordinated fashion across the distribution grid could provide peak shaving, Virtual Power Plants (VPP) in aggregation, and localized available sectionalized resources for voltage balancing. All of this will increasingly expose radial feeders to bi-directional power flows with the inherent concerns upon safety and equipment operation.

To address these challenges, utilities need to deploy advanced monitoring and control systems that provide greater visibility into the distribution grid. These systems require new sensors, smart meters, and other technologies to collect data on the performance of DERs, EVs, and energy storage systems in near real-time. The collected data can then be analyzed using advanced analytics platforms, enabling grid operators to optimize the performance of the grid and respond quickly to any issues that arise.

For greater visibility to be of use to operators, the implementation of advanced control systems at the edge of the distribution grid is necessary to optimize the performance of the system and ensure grid stability and reliability under the OT 2.0 framework. This requires a large rcontrol surface to the overall grid. The deployment of these control systems will enable utilities to manage and optimize the performance of DERs and EVs to achieve optimal performance.

One of the critical control systems that needs to be implemented at the edge of the distribution grid is the distributed energy resource management system (DERMS). DERMS can enable utilities to monitor the performance of DERs in real-time and respond quickly to any issues that arise,providing utilities with greater visibility into the distribution grid. DERMS can also optimize the performance of DERs with respect to the local distribution grid environment.

In addition to DERMS and ADMS, another control system that needs to be implemented is the electric vehicle management system (EVMS). EVMS can manage the charging and discharging of EVs on the grid, ensuring that the system remains stable and reliable. This system can provide utilities with real-time visibility into the performance of EVs on the grid, enabling them to optimize the performance of the system and respond quickly to any issues that arise.

Furthermore, the scale, rate, and volume of change present significant challenges to grid operations of the future. Utility SCADA systems must be systematically enhanced to manage the increasing amount of equipment and data retrieved from finer scales of location and time. New systems and networks will need to become available to operators to monitor and control an OT 2.0 distribution grid. Overall, the implementation of advanced control systems at the edge of the distribution grid is critical for grid modernization, ensuring optimal performance, and grid stability and reliability.

Inclusion of IoT/IIoT in Distribution grid

The OT 2.0 distribution grid will invariably rely on the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology. IoT/IIoT is expected to play a significant role in the transformation of the distribution grid from a centralized model to a more decentralized, distributed model.

Implementing IoT/IIoT devices in an inherently OperationalTechnology (OT) system, such as the electrical distribution grid, can be a complex and challenging process. Ensuring that IoT/IIoT devices are compatible with existing OT systems and infrastructure both from a network and electrical perspective can be quite complicated. Many legacy OT systems were not designedto accommodate the large number of sensors and devices that are typically used in IoT/IIoT systems. This can result in compatibility issues, data integration challenges, and interoperability problems.

Another challenge is data management. IoT/IIoT devices generate large amounts of data, and this data must be managed and processed in real-time. This requires advanced analytics platforms and other tools that can handle the high volume and velocity of data generated by IoT/IIoT devices. Additionally, data security and privacy must be considered, as the large amount of data generated by IoT/IIoT devices can be a target for cyber-attacks and other security threats.

To this end, deploying IoT/IIoT devices in an OT system will require significant planning and coordination. This includes identifying the key areas where IoT/IIoT devices can be deployed, determining the types of devices that are needed, and developing a comprehensive deployment strategy. Additionally,the systems must be implemented such that operators are provided a coordinated and/or integrated view of information provided by the IoT/IIoT systems and OT systems. This will involve close collaboration between IT and OT teams, as well as third-party vendors and other stakeholders.

Finally, maintaining and updating IoT/IIoT devices in an OT system can be a challenge. IoT/IIoT devices require regular software updates, maintenance, and troubleshooting to ensure that they are operating correctly and that data is being collected and transmitted accurately. Unlike IT systems, this is not a typical operation within an OT environment and the skills and expertise needed may not be readily available within the organization. Despite these challenges, the benefits of using IoT/IIoT devices in the electrical distribution grid can be significant, including increased efficiency,reliability, and sustainability. We expect IoT/IIoT devices to be a major influence on the evolution from OT 1.0 to OT 2.0.

Read more articles
More Articles